Protecting Nature

Restore the Nine is a local grassroots organization formed to safeguard Nine Mile Creek and Central Park's natural woodlands, wetlands, and prairie.

Central Park, part of the Nine Mile Creek Corridor, is a beautiful urban oasis in Bloomington, MN. It is an essential ecosystem for numerous species of animals and plants, including some that are threatened or endangered. Unfortunately, this natural habitat is at risk.

Bloomington recently received funds for a park renewal project. In addition to restoration projects, they will consider other projects, such as widening existing pedestrian trails along Nine Mile Creek and adding paved bike paths or mountain bike trails, all of which will involve cutting down trees, removing native vegetation, and destroying wildlife habitat.

Widened trails will do permanent damage

Converting the current trail to a ten-foot-wide shared trail requires flattening 20 feet of ground, more if they need to move the trail away from the creek or if they need to straighten it.

This image shows a hill that would be destroyed by a new widened path. Many spots in the park would suffer the same fate. The wooded slopes to the trail would be replaced by high retaining walls.

“Once these natural areas are lost, they are gone forever.”

-Bloomington Park System Master Plan, 2021, p, 45

Hold on… What is “the Nine” and why should I care?

“The Nine” is Nine Mile Creek in Central Park, near downtown Bloomington. It is a unique natural area, home to threatened and endangered species, as well as being a serene and restorative place to walk, bird-watch, or hang out in a hammock.

If you are unfamiliar with this park or just want to learn more about where it is located, why it is important ecologically, the habitats it contains, and the plants & animals that live there, click More About the Park.

Beavers are just a few of the animals that call Central Park home, along with otters, mink, fox, coyote, deer, raccoons, and many others.

Remind me: what’s going on?

In the November 2023 election, Bloomington residents voted to support a local sales-tax to pay for three projects. One of these was the Nine Mile Creek Corridor Renewal Project.

Restore the Nine is concerned that construction and development in the park will irrevocably damage the various ecosystems and habitats it supports and radically change the unique character of the park.

Bloomington will be holding Community Engagement events to find out what residents want in the park. Restore the Nine encourages everyone to participate and tell the City to protect this unique natural area.

Participate in Community Engagement!

Community Engagement is Bloomington’s term for  how they will determine residents’ visions for the park.

If you want to make a difference in what happens to the Central Park, it is important to participate in the City’s Community Engagement events:

Restore the Nine’s position

Restore the Nine would like Bloomington to:

  • Restore stream banks along Nine Mile Creek and repair eroded areas using bioengineering techniques whenever possible.

  • Restore the park’s woodlands and wetlands by removing invasive species without the use of heavy machinery that will damage nearby trees and vegetation, and then planting and caring for new native trees from species that are resilient enough to withstand climate change.

  • Preserve the unique, wild character of the park which would be compromised by widened trails that would cut into steep hills and require tall retaining walls to hold back the slopes.

  • Maintain the existing infrastructure—keep the park safe by repairing trails, bridges, and stairs.

  • Designate Central Park as a sanctuary and protected natural area to preserve the revitalized corridor for future generations.

  • Keep the paths safe for pedestrians, especially for seniors, children, birdwatchers and dog-walkers, by not converting the walking trails to shared pedestrian/bike paths.

  • Preserve the quiet, serene nature of the park by not giving access to faster-moving wheeled vehicles that startle both pedestrians and wildlife.

  • Use the park for nature education. The park has so many ecosystems and such variety of animal life that it would make an ideal setting to educate the public about the importance of nature.

  • Make Central Park more accessible to wheelchairs on the paved trail north of 106th Street, while keeping the trail to the south unpaved for those with disabilities that prevent them from walking on pavement.  

We are neutral about all projects in Moir, such as the park shelter building, as long as they do not involve cutting down native canopy trees.

Bloomington’s proposal

As of April, 2024

A wide array of improvements will be implemented including:

  • Stream and bankside restoration

  • 131 acres of woodland and wetland restoration

  • Invasive species prevention

  • New outdoor gathering space with restrooms (Moir Park)

  • New playground (Moir Park)

  • New park shelter building (Moir Park)

  • ADA accessibility improvements

  • Trail enhancements

  • Possible boardwalk connection to Minnesota River

All items subject to change. Extensive community engagement will take place to help guide final decisions.

How do Bloomington and Restore the Nine differ?

Bloomington and Restore the Nine both talk about restoring and protecting the Nine Mile Creek Corridor. What is different between our position and Bloomington’s? What did the City’s original proposals for the Corridor say?

“The world is waking up to the fact that our future depends on reversing the loss of nature just as much as it depends on addressing climate change. And you can’t solve one without solving the other. Everyone has a role to play in reversing these trends, from individuals to companies to governments.”

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of WWF-US

More ways to help

  • The most important thing you can do is to participate in the City’s Community Engagement events, which are designed to find out what residents want to see done in the park.

  • Subscribe to our newsletter, and we will let you know when these events are occurring.

  • Write to decision makers and others expressing your thoughts.

  • Join our social media groups and post about us on your own social media accounts to help spread the word.

  • Volunteer.

  • Donate so we can reach out to others. 

  • Click Learn More to find details and additional ideas.

What do we mean by “Restore”?

Restore the Nine members understand the park will not be restored to what it was 100 or even 50 years ago. That is unrealistic, given climate change, invasive species, and urbanization. Ecological restoration does not imply such a goal. Nor does it mean we allow further degradation by constructing more paths, pavement, and retaining walls that will require more trees to be cut down. Restore the Nine supports implementing a habitat restoration project that will increase carbon capture, purify our groundwater, provide shade during hot summer days, protect animal habitat, decrease flood risk, support biodiversity, and offer a rest stop for migrating birds. 

Our #1 priority is restoring the natural environment surrounding Nine Mile Creek. With 20 million dollars, we have a unique opportunity to transform this park into a healthier ecosystem that will serve as a model of urban environmental stewardship.

What if I don’t live in Bloomington?

The park renewal project is being funded by a local sales tax. Per the Bloomington Forward website: “…an estimated 65% of the tax will be paid by nonresidents.”

The state legislature approved the sales tax funds in part because the projects are regional in scope.

You are paying for the park project whenever you shop in Bloomington. It seems reasonable that you should have some say in what happens.

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Subscribe

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Put up a yard sign

If you want a yard sign, let us know at team@restorethenine.org and we will get one to you at no cost.

If you give us your address, we’ll deliver it to you!

Donate

We spend your donations on outreach, primarily flyers, yard signs and t-shirts. Anything you can donate will help us continue organizing and growing our membership.

We are not a registered charity, so donations are not tax deductible.

New: car magnets

A car magnet is like a traveling yard sign. If you would like one (free), please contact us at team@restorethenine.org.

We are not alone

Other local communities are struggling to protect natural areas.