Sunday, April 1, 2012

End of March

Post contributed by: Youth Outdoors Crew 2, Minnesota Conservation Corps

Conducting a prescribed burn on the shore of Lake Phalen
This week temperatures dipped down to more normal temperatures for March, although without all the snow melt we are sort of skipping the mud season.  Perfect for outdoor work.  The awakenings of spring are continually exciting as we traipse through the woods.  Trees are budding out and the ephemerals continue to pop.
(Prunus virginiana)
We spent some time managing buckthorn, a highly aggressive invasive species, and we are in a narrow window of time when it is especially easy to tell buckthorn and cherry apart, making for easier work.  This early in the spring, cherry leaves have a red tint to them while the buckthorn is a bright green. 

One of the major highlights of the week was conducting our first prescribed burn as a crew at Lake Phalen.  Along much of the shoreline, native grasses have been restored and it is important to manage them with fire every few years.  Check out this video of Lake Phalen being burned in 2011!

Saturday, we worked with our youth program in Taylor Park and Highwood Preserve hauling previously cut buckthorn to the road so that it can be picked up and taken downtown to the District Energy building where it will be converted into energy for the city of Saint Paul.  While we were at Highwood Preserve, we were able to see a few purple twayblades (Liparis liliifolia), a rare native orchid. Purple twayblades are not a particularly showy orchid, but it is neat to see them nonetheless. Wildflowers may not be dug up without permission of the landowners, and it is illegal to sell wildflowers without the appropriate permits. In addition, orchids do not take particularly well to transplanting. For these reasons, we request that any visitors to Highwood Preserve simply admire the orchid and refrain from disturbing them, or their growing area, in any way. For more information on Minnesota's wildflower laws please visit this link from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.