A flock of hungry Canada geese and a summer full of clear skies are to blame for turning green riverfront turf at Mill Ruins Park into a chalky gray moonscape.
Geese have eaten just about all the blades of grass on the park's flat area, said Michael Schmidt, assistant superintendent of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. (Wild grasses on the park's steep hillsides remain intact.)
The park's lawn resembles sand now, similar to the color of two giant gray rocks that sit on the turf.
The city is applying a goose-gagging repellent to what's left of the grass, according to one park worker, who was watering the dried-out surface on a bright Monday afternoon.
The park -- located below the city's new Mill City Museum -- has used the goose-gagging product with mixed results, Schmidt said. It has been tried on grass around the Nicollet Island Pavilion and city-run golf courses. Parks officials might look into adding Mill Ruins to a list of sites for its annual goose round-up, he added.
The product is nontoxic and won't harm the geese, short of making them upset to their stomach, he said.
The Mill Ruins park has attracted as many as 200 geese, according to park staff.
"It's an ideal place for them," he said. "They are very adaptable wildlife creatures."
Apparently, geese love to graze on short grass like the kind they gobbled up at the Mill Ruins Park. They also like to be close to open water, such as the Mississippi River.
Dry skies have also contributed to the problem, Schmidt said, leaving the grass parched.
The city might do more seeding on the site this fall if the weather is cooperative, he said.
Mill Ruins Park opened in 2001, offering people the chance to get a closer look at the remains of the old flour milling industry. The city boasted the largest water-powered mill at the turn of the 20th century.