Jay C. Hormel Nature Center: Protecting land and water

Published 6:01 am Friday, April 26, 2019

By Luke Reese

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center naturalist

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center surrounds and protects water at the confluence of the north and south branches of Dobbins Creek. In fact, one could say the nature center wouldn’t be where it is without a creek running through it.

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Proximity to water was probably a big factor in Jay Hormel’s decision to purchase land where he did. Proximity to the flood plain made Mr. Hormel’s property a great place to plant the trees that would become his personal arboretum.

In 1971, after Austin established the nature center, it was decided that the forests and Dobbins Creek were not enough. A pond was excavated and prairies were restored around it. That pond and prairie significantly diversified the birds and wildlife that occupy the nature center. Additional forests and farmland were acquired and more prairies have been restored, further increasing quality habitat for wildlife.

As this occurs, the water resource at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center becomes richer. Marshes and wet prairies slow and hold water on the landscape reducing the flash flooding potential in Dobbins Creek. Water that reaches the creek is cleaner and free of topsoil. In fact, phase 2 of the habitat restoration that we are working on will, in part, create more wet prairies and marshes by slowing the water running in an old drainage ditch.

Managing and protecting the water resource at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center is a top priority that began over 90 years ago. Continuing that tradition ensures that southeast Minnesota will have a vibrant place to explore nature for generations to come.

Connected to water: Read more about Austin’s rich history of water