Tag Archives: Friends of Lake Nokomis

Blooming Alley Tour & Happy Hour

Written by Aleli Balagtas

Come see Metro Blooms’ first Blooming Alley, and rediscover back alleys. The idea is to look beyond garbage cans and garages and envision alleys as inviting, ecological community spaces. That’s what neighbors on a block near Minneapolis’Lake Nokomis did last spring when they started planning their alley makeover as part of a project called Nokomis Neighbors for Clean Water. This is alley beautification with a green mission: to create lovely neighborhood spaces that incorporate strategies to reduce storm water runoff and promote native habitat.

Stormwater flowing through backyards, driveways and alleys is a major culprit in Lake Nokomis pollution. Metro Blooms undertook this project to partner with local groups, government and residents to reduce the problem. The key is community engagement: provide the tools—namely, expertise in landscape design and stormwater management—that allow residents to work together to find a solution, and make their community a better place to live in the process. Funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the City of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County supported the project and, over several months, Metro Blooms helped neighbors on the block design and create the first Blooming Alley.

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The History of Lake Nokomis

This past Tuesday, myself, Mark Pedelty (a professor at the U of MN), and three of his students had the pleasure of learning about the history of Lake Nokomis from Steffanie Musich, President of Friends of Lake Nokomis, and Julia Vanatta
with Wild Ones.  I learned more about Lake Nokomis that day than I thought there was to know, and I was intrigued so I went looking for even more information.  I have to say, Lake Nokomis has a long and colorful history.  If you’ve ever wondered just how and when it came to be (that’s right, it hasn’t always been a lake fit for swimming) read on and find out!

Lake Nokomis, known as Lake Amelia until 1910, was originally meant to serve as a reservoir to maintain the constant flow of water over Minnehaha Falls.  The park board did not actually own the land around Lake Nokomis, Rice Lake (Lake Hiawatha), or Minnehaha Creek in the late 1800s but that didn’t stop them from making plans to deepen channels and dam the lake.  Luckily, most of these plans fell through for reasons unknown today, but they were all made with the hope of maintaining a flow of water over the falls.  In fact,  in 1900 President Benjamin Harrison was quoted at the falls saying “Minnehaha Falls would undoubtedly be very beautiful if there was water in the stream.”

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