What would you do if half an acre of land behind your condo building was eroding? If you were in the Appletree Condo Association, you would undertake a native plant restoration project.
When a $250,000 retaining wall proved too expensive, Master Naturalist Tom Fahey and other association board members looked at other options. After three years of discussions with other community members and the City, the association board applied for two grants, each $7,500, from the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District. The first grant in 2022 helped with the cost to remove existing gravel at the top of the slope. The second grant in 2023 helped with the cost of seeds, plugs and erosion blankets for the steep slope.
“The Appletree community came together for this project,” said landscape committee member Pam Bott. “It gave us a great sense of pride, a greater sense of community with our neighbors at the wildlife refuge and a greater appreciation of the resources within Bloomington.”
With the help of 20 volunteers like Fahey and Bott who invested more than 650 hours this last summer, the runoff is now captured by the deep roots of native plants, and residents have a close-up view of all the blooms, butterflies, bees and wildlife that show up.
“It is very rewarding to know that we are one of a growing number of groups undertaking initiatives to return our bluffs and open spaces to their natural state, encouraging the revitalization of the wildlife in our area,” Bott concluded.