Editor's note: The following contains portions of a news release from Flint Hills Resources.
More than 80 volunteers from Flint Hills Resources, Friends of the Mississippi River and Great River Greening continued restoration efforts Saturday along a section of the Mississippi River bluffs that is owned by Flint Hills Resources.
The volunteers removed buckthorn brush and opened and connected prairies on the bluffs, continuing the work that the three organizations have collaborated on since 2000. The goal of the annual event is to restore and reconstruct natural areas on the property.
Known as the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area, the 1,300 acres of natural prairie, savanna, and oak woodland provide critical habitat for both resident and migratory animals.
Since the restoration project began, volunteers have worked to eliminate invasive plants and reclaim important habitat for the Mississippi River flyway, a migration corridor for millions of songbirds and 40 percent of North America’s waterfowl and shorebirds. Staff members from Flint Hills also monitor artificial bluebird nesting structures at the bluffs each year.
This summer, 89 young bluebirds left their nests at Flint Hills, a company record.
“It has been incredible to watch the transformation of the Pine Bend Bluffs over the last 12 years,” said Don Kern, Engineering and Facilities Manager at Flint Hills Resources. “Thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers, including many of our employees, the natural habitat around the bluffs is well on its way to being restored to conditions that precede the modern settlement of our state.”
The Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is an Environmental Initiative award winner for natural resource protection and is designated as an area of outstanding biological diversity by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In addition to the restoration work, the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area is used to educate area students about the environment and importance of restoring and preserving natural habitats.
Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend in Rosemount has a crude oil processing capacity of 320,000 barrels per day. Pine Bend employs nearly 1,000 full-time; an additional 400-2,000 mostly union contractors work at the refinery daily on construction projects. More information about the company is available at www.fhr.com.