Restoration effort preserves 20 acres of floodplain forest along Rum River

More than 75 volunteers gathered on Saturday morning, Oct. 27, to restore 20 acres of floodplain forest along the Rum River just north of Cambridge.

Linda and Bruce Mickelson kneel next to one of the trees planted during a restoration project held Saturday, Oct. 27, on their land located along the Rum River just north of Cambridge off of Polk Street NE. The trees are marked so mowing can be done in between the rows.  Photos by Rachel Kytonen


Leading the effort was Great River Greening, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to fostering clean water, healthy habitat and improved quality of life through local, community-based restoration in Minnesota.

The volunteers planted trees and scattered seed on private land protected through a Minnesota Wild and Scenic Rivers easement to restore the last major gap in the otherwise intact floodplain forest along the Rum River.

Students from the University of St. Thomas School of Law volunteered with the restoration project. Pictured are Adrienne Geile, Laura Gisler, Nicole Limper and Roger Maldonado.

Floodplain restoration is part of a three-year plan that includes riverbank stabilization, invasive species control and wild rice seeding.

The property is owned by Bruce and Linda Mickelson, Diane (Bruce’s sister) and Larry Lundeen and Judy (Bruce’s sister) and Glen Thorson.

Bruce explained the land has been in the family since moving from Milaca to Cambridge in 1952.

“Great River Greening sent us a letter looking for land located in a DNR easement,” Bruce said. “We were also looking to do some restoration projects so it seemed like a good fit. We met with Great River Greening and everything took off from there.”

Volunteers planted 500 floodplain forest trees, including silver maple, American cranberry, pussy willow, meadowsweet, silky dogwood and cottonwood, and will seed the area with native grasses and wildflowers.

Volunteers learn about the restoration project.

Great River Greening Volunteer Manager Josh Kritz thanked all the volunteers for their time.

“We had around 75 volunteers whose time totalled around 200 service hours,” Kritz said. “These volunteers saved us a week’s worth of time for our crew. With these volunteers, we eclipsed 30,000 volunteers.”

Why the Rum River

The Rum River, a state-designated Wild and Scenic River, runs 89 miles from its source at Mille Lacs Lake before entering the Mississippi River at Anoka. The meandering river passes through extensive backwaters and marshes, sand plains, floodplain forests and stands of red and white pine that are remnants of the vast pine forests that were logged during the late 1800s. Although it is a river with relatively clear waters, land use activities and invasive plant species are dramatically altering the landscape and pose a significant risk to the “outstanding and remarkable values” for which the river was originally designated.

Great River Greening

Great River Greening, in collaboration with partners, began the Rum River Program in 2010 with a three-year plan to restore, enhance  and provide long-term protection for the Rum River and important habitats within its watershed.  

Work has been performed on private and public lands throughout the watershed, involving riverbank and riparian forest restoration, installation of erosion control measures, upland habitat restoration, and the reintroduction of wild rice into the river’s backwaters.

Great River Greening is a nonprofit environmental organization that is leading the charge for clean water, healthy habitat and improved quality of life through local, community-based restoration in Minnesota. Founded in 1995 in Saint Paul, the organization is growing statewide, and has engaged 30,000 volunteers, multiple landowners, public and private agencies in restoration partnerships.

Minnesota’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Program

Minnesota’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Program was established in 1973 to assist communities and property owners in developing management plans that protect the scenic, recreational, natural, historical and cultural integrity of the land. Six rivers in Minnesota have segments designated as wild, scenic or recreational under the state program, including the Rum.

Area landowners in collaboration with the Minnesota DNR have protected 117 parcels totaling 1,180 acres with permanent scenic easements on the Rum River, as well as other Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state.

Funding Sources

The restoration project was made possible with support from Bruce and Linda Mickelson, MN DNR Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, MN DNR Shorelands Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Connexus Energy, Viking Gas, the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.