A companion and I first discovered Islands of Peace probably 40 years ago. At the time, beyond the signature bridge which is still there, was nondescript seemingly abandoned straight pavement and a lot of back-water. Ill-used, I suppose, the park lived up to its name, peaceful even in proximity to a roaring freeway a few blocks south.
It’s at the end of Charles Street off East River Road in Fridley (past 694, turn west – it’s between “Georgetown” and other apartments). Signage is small. If you miss it going north, turn back through the parking lot at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, also on the left/west, with an electronic sign you can’t miss.
Changes in Islands of Peace park may have opened it up to more freeway hum, but bird sounds are audible. Birder Karen Kraco and I bundled up on April 11 to check out progress, new interpretive signs installed. One sign gives the history of the park, created and developed through the hard work of WWII veteran Edward T. Wilmes, who was injured during his time in the Navy. Upon returning to Fridley, he dedicated the rest of his life to creating natural spaces accessible to people with disabilities.
When it opened in 1973, Islands of Peace was considered one of the first parks in the Twin Cities consider ADA-accessible at the time. The new path to the bridge switches back several times to make the grade wheelchair friendly, while the adventurous or impatient have worn a straight path down the slope.
Another sign speaks of location along a bird migration flyway. Invasive brush has been removed and a bee-friendly lawn will mature in the center of the largest island. More info at https://www.anokacountyparks.com/parks (click on Islands of Peace).
Just up the road, behind Banfill-Locke at 6666 East River Road, Fridley, is Manomin Park. While Karen and I heard enough birds at Islands of Peace for her to teach me to recognize some of their calls, she said the photography potential might be better at Manomin. The photo of the pileated woodpecker shown here was from a previous outing. The phoebe was spotted at Islands of Peace.
Below: Interpretive signs, pileated woodpecker, and phoebe. (Photos by Karen Kraco)