We are removing forty years’ growth of invasive buckthorn from Sunfish Lake Park. It is a difficult process, but someone has to do it, and that someone is George!

Volunteer Buckthorn Removal will take place from 9:30 to Noon on the following dates in 2023. We have the gloves, loppers, and daubers. Contact George at 651-757-5610 for details.

FREE – Regular Buckthorn Removal Days – Second Saturdays at 9:30 AM 2023 Schedule:
Not July – August 12th, September 9th, October 14th, November 11th , December 9th

Please come and help remove this pesty plant. We have the loppers and gloves, bring your energy. Free fresh air and exercise. The Restoration of Sunfish Lake Park project has done initial clearing of 40 acres of buckthorn, and replanted oaks, and native grasses and forbs. For more details, visit “Buckthorn” tab above, or https://sminc-lake-elmo.org/buckthorn/ George is working out the plan for clearing the rest of the Park!!! – please contact George at 651-757-5610 for details.

Link to information about Forest Restoration Demonstration Plot, our latest Eagle Scout Project :

Eagle Scout Project – Forest Restoration Demo Plot

Have you noticed that some areas of the park look much more open now?

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park have received a Grant for the second phase of the “Restoration of Sunfish Lake Park” from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Scroll down to see the map of the Phase 2 work plan. This $457,000 program will complete the effort begun in 2018 and supported by an earlier DNR-CPL $154,000 program.

please click on the links below to learn more about this Fund



The State of Minnesota Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.   The focus of the first phase effort was to remove buckthorn and restore the native habitat. in a designated 40 acres of the woodland area of the park – shown in GREEN outline in the current sketch below (but omitting the yellow-outlined portions) – and runs through Spring 2023 .  The State will reimburse up to $139,000  in costs, the City of Lake Elmo has voted a $10,000 contribution, and the Friends will contribute at least 300 volunteer hours valued at $20/hour for a total program cost of $154,000. Our selected contractor, Stantec has done the heavy work of clearing and mulching. Volunteers are needed to do some of the manual tasks. As soon as the buckthorn dares to show its early green leaves, we will resume the Second Saturday buckthorn removal. Every volunteer hour contributed will be a $28.80 credit to the DNR contract effort – please come and sign in and lend a hand (or two). We have the tools and gloves.  Please contact George for further information or questions at 651-757-5610.  

First Phase, 2020 – Early 2023

The area outlined in bright green, but not the areas outlined in yellow, show the 40 acres restored under this program. The mature native trees were marked so that the forest mulching machine operators spared them.

Final step in the first phase, and then ongoing maintenance – In addition to improving wildlife habitat, the grasses will help to provide fuel for a prescribed burn which was attempted in Spring 2023 but had to be stopped due to excessive woody debris creating too much heat. Spot applications of broad-leaf herbicide were done in Spring to help control other broad-leaf weeds (like burdock). A Stantec ecologist walks the woodland to monitor recovery of the native ground layer plants and guide weed control efforts. Of course these dates are estimates and the actual times depend on weather and growing conditions.

With extra support from a Minnesota Parks and Trails Council Friends grant, we celebrated Earth Day 2022 with three Saturday mornings of planting oak trees (130 seedlings and saplings) and several acres of native grasses and sedges, followed by picnic lunch.

The 2023 Earth Days activities were named in memory of John Neitge, who organized the 2022 activities but sadly died of leukemia this past December.

Phase 2 2023-2026 – map of the area that will be restored

Progress to date, March 2023

Burning a 35 ft x 15 ft pile of logs on March 7th: