Biodiversity is the variety of life in one area, from animals and plants to microorganisms and ecosystems.  

This is distinct from habitat quality, which can be, but is not necessarily, correlated with species survival or biodiversity. Central Park and the NMCC have habitat quality issues which the sales-tax funded restoration project intends to address.

Restore the Nine believes that the habitat restoration work done in the park, coupled with a cessation of development, will help preserve the high biodiversity significance of Central Park.

A site of High biodiversity significance

The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) collects and interprets data on plant and animal distribution as well as the ecology of native plant communities and functional landscapes and assigns a biodiversity significance rank to each survey site. There are four ranks: outstanding, high, moderate, and below. 

The Nine Mile Creek Corridor and adjacent part of the Minnesota River Valley is a site of High biodiversity significance, and the only other site with that rank in the city is Tierney’s Woods. 

People commonly think of Hyland Lake Park Reserve as being a high quality natural area, but it is low in biodiversity. Whether the fact that this park is more heavily trafficked by people and more developed overall than Central Park is causative or coincidental is not known.

MBS Biodiversity Rankings

  • Outstanding sites contain the best occurrences of the rarest species, the most outstanding examples of the rarest native plant communities, and/or the largest, most ecologically intact or functional landscapes.

  • High sites contain very good quality occurrences of the rarest species, high-quality examples of rare native plant communities, and/or important functional landscapes.

  • Moderate sites contain occurrences of rare species, moderately disturbed native plant communities, and/or landscapes that have strong potential for recovery of native plant communities and characteristic ecological processes.

  • Below sites lack occurrences of rare species and natural features or do not meet MBS standards for outstanding, high, or moderate rank. These sites may include areas of conservation value at the local level, such as habitat for native plants and animals, corridors for animal movement, buffers surrounding higher-quality natural areas, areas with high potential for restoration of native habitat, or open space.

Habitat Quality

Barr Engineering did a Natural Resources Prioritization and Management Strategy document for Bloomington in 2022. Based on the DNR’s Land Cover Classification System, they mapped the habitat quality of Central Park and Moir Park.

As you can see, most of the park is considered to be in moderate condition, with a large area of good quality habitat and some pockets of poor quality and one rated highest.

Restoration of this park was given a high priority by Barr and the city. p30

Yeah, but it’s just a trail…

How much damage can adding a trail do to the level of biodiversity in the park? Can you prove it will be a problem?

Restore the Nine cannot prove widening the trails will impact biodiversity in Central Park. It also cannot be proven they will do no harm.

We do know that habitat will be lost, and more human traffic in the park means more trash and probably more habitat degradation when hikers and potentially bikers go off trail. If the trail is opened to bicycles, it is certain that electric bikes will follow, and their faster speeds increase the risk to both pedestrians and animals.

Ultimately, it comes down to the question of priorities. Our priority is protecting this very special and unique bit of land for the plants and animals who live there and for future generations of Bloomington residents. We believe climate change is real, and that we are in a time of unprecedented peril to all life on earth, including humans. While protecting the NMCC against development is a like drop in the ocean, we believe every drop counts.  


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