A sad day in Apple Park
La Crescent area residents have a hidden gem of a county park on North Ridge, along the Apple Blossom Scenic Byway.
Apple Blossom Park has short, mowed prairie trails that lead to great overlooks of the Mississippi River.
Winona County park volunteers have worked hard in recent years to add an area with new picnic tables and trail signage, courtesy of competitive State Health Improvement Plan grants.
A DNR grant provided 27 young shade trees for the main lawn and parking lot perimeter, planted and watered in 2019 by local volunteers and park neighbors. The park is always busy with local residents stopping by, as well as tourists passing through.
Sadly, on Aug. 19 some of the beautiful new trees were killed by some park users. Branches were ripped off the trees, stripping the bark and killing the trees. The top of one tree was completely snapped off.
As someone who has worked for decades alongside my neighbors to improve the prairie plantings, trails and trees in this park, I am heartbroken. Who would do this? Couldn’t they be bothered to scavenge for twigs for the fire pit?
This 50-acre park was purchased with state and federal recreation grant funds in the 1990s.
The Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District provided prairie seed and guidance to establish a great prairie. Mowing and burning to establish the prairie has been done by local volunteers and members of the MInnesota Driftless Chapter of the Prairie Enthusiasts, along with the La Crescent Volunteer Fire Department.
Creating this park has truly been a group effort. A park plan shows a pavilion for group use in the future, if a donor can be identified.
Incremental progress is impossible without grants, individual funding and (apparently) watchful eyes. As a result of this vandalism, the grant requires Winona County to buy new trees to re-plant those that were destroyed. Replacement costs can range up to $200 each and we will need volunteers to plant and care for them.
Please contact local law enforcement if you observed the vandalism at the park on Aug. 19. Also, anyone who would like to help with the park in any way (donating for new trees, assisting with prairie burns or watering young trees) would be welcomed with open arms.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Morse, Dakota, and Eileen Krenz, La Crescent
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