Mission Creek Plant Walk summary by Kelly Beaster
Field trip leader: Ethan Perry
On August 2, the Arrowhead Native Plant Explorers met at Mission Creek for a guided hike of intact native plant communities in a small sampling of the 2,246 acre Fond du Lac Forest Park within the City of Duluth. With MN DNR plant ecologist, Ethan Perry, the group explored the history of the park and observed plants like wild ginger, starflower, Indian pipe, and a variety of ferns. He also touched on the past importance of the area to the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes and the residents of the area. The St. Louis River and the surrounding region, considered sacred to the Ojibwe people, provided everything the indigenous peoples needed to survive, including wild rice, maple syrup, medicinal plants, and ample fishing and hunting opportunities. Many encampments, including at Mission Creek, were placed adjacent to the river which functioned as a trade corridor. The creek gets its current name from the first Christian mission in the area. The City of Duluth maintained a tree nursery for boulevards, the first City Arboretum, a sandstone rock quarry, and a winter sports complex along the river. Ethan pointed to the field of tansy and the need for the recent restoration of the creek bed as signs of those past disturbances. Amazingly, despite those disturbances, the mixed hardwood forests perched on steep ravines still remain high quality ecosystems within City limits.
Much of the historical City Parks information in this summary can be found at http://zenithcity.com/archive/parks-landmarks/fond-du-lac-park/ and the Ojibwe information can be found at https://www.americanrivers.org/2015/10/gitchi-gami-ziibi-the-lake-superior-river/