Friday, August 31, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: August 28-31st

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

Stephan receiving some help
collecting acorns from a friendly passer-by!
Another week spent battling the invasive plants of Saint Paul and working to restore a balance to the open spaces!  We returned to Pickerel Lake early in the week to finish clipping purple loosestrife, many plants started flowering since we had been there the previous week, and we were reminded of how dogged and observant you need to be in order to time an attack on an invasive plant and be effective. 

During the hottest part of the week we spent some time collecting acorns and seeds from walnut and basswood trees to plant in the floodplain forest of Crosby Farms Regional Park this fall.  Many people stopped by to ask what we were up to crawling around on our hands and knees, and we even had some little helpers! 

There were a couple of exciting highlights from the week.  One was that we uncovered a painted turtle nest  along the lake shore at Como Lake.  There were more than a half dozen little turtles in the nest and we watched excitedly as they made a beeline for the waters edge.  We also started an exciting project in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom clearing vegetation from sections of the woods that are being turned into trails in the near future.  We whipped out our chainsaws and brush-saws and got to work making room for the heavy machinery that will be used to install the trails.  We are excited to see the results!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: August 21-24th

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

Como Raingarden maintenance
We started the week by finishing off prepping the rain gardens for the Minnesota State Fair. They looked really good, and the additional signage should encourage citizens to pursue them in their own communities.

Later in the week, we continued the fight against invasive species. We focused efforts on two sites: Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, or CWOC, and Pickerel Lake at Lilydale Regional Park. We started the year at CWOC working against smaller herbaceous plants like burdock and garlic mustard, and we've seen a big improvement in those areas and their season is nearly done. We moved onto clearing out some larger trees and shrubs, targeting the invasive buckthorn. This is a  very fast growing, aggressive. We removed buckthorn and thinned out unwanted boxelder trees to encourage biodiversity. The areas looked a lot healthier when we were done.

Clipping seed heads of purple loosestrife
At Pickerel Lake, we worked on clipping seed heads from an invasive species called Purple Loosestrife. Although it produces a pretty magenta flower, it has begun spreading through the prairie that borders that lake. Purple loosestrife is extremely aggressive and doesn’t provide high quality habitat and nutrition for wildlife like our native species of plants do. We're working to control invasives and maintain the native biodiversity of this beautiful prairie.

Don't forget to check out these sites in person:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Como Park Bluebird Trail, Final Update of the Year!

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer Bluebird Trail monitor:

The bluebird nesting season is over and all the boxes have been removed for cleaning, repair, and winter storage.  On the trail this year, 31 bluebirds, 16 chickadees, and 2 cowbirds fledged from 10 boxes, for a combined total of 49 birds fledged.

The ratio of bluebirds fledged to bluebird eggs laid was 62% (31 fledged/50 eggs).  The extended, extremely hot weather was probably a factor in lowering the survival rate for the bluebirds, chickadees, and tree swallows that attempted nests on the trail this year.  Six fewer bluebirds fledged than in 2011, when the trail had a total of 11 boxes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Conservation Corps Update, August 14th-17th

Post contributed by Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors Crew 2:

Pickerel Lake
The Youth Outdoors crew 2 saw a variety of work during the third week of August. It began around Pickerel Lake in south St. Paul sweeping for invasive species such as purple loosestrife, burdock, spotted knapweed, and thistle, among others. These invasive species in particular are beginning to throw their seeds and the crew is working to collect and dispose of those seeds before that occurs.

The crew spent a bit of time in Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) in preparation for future volunteer planting events that are scheduled for later this August.

Como Lake Shore received some of that planting this week by the crew restoring some grasses, forbs, and sedges along the south west shore. The plants were all plugs, or young specimens in individual cells ready for planting, so they are a little less obvious to the untrained eye. In a few years, the hope is to have a lush shoreline with a variety of species.

Working in the raingarden
The crew worked around and in Lake Phalen collecting shoreline trash and other debris. Lake users should notice a considerable difference and will hopefully find the clean shoreline aesthetically appealing. The rain garden just north of the boat house received some attention from the crew as well. They took out invasive species, pruned out suckers and volunteer trees, and thinned a beautiful, but aggressive native: golden rod.
With the State Fair quickly approaching, the crew spent the final day of their week preparing Como area rain gardens for the crowds. The crew worked at cutting out any dead or dieing summer plants, thinned aggressive species, edged the beds, and put up protective fencing. If you are in the area, take time to appreciate the beautiful autumn blossoms, there is still a ton of variety!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Conservation Corps Update, August 7th-10th

Post contributed by Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors Crew 2:

Tuesday, August 7th
The Conservation Corps crew is glad to be back to work for St. Paul after spending the majority of the summer leading Summer Youth Outdoors crews. We started the week by installing posts for fencing along an area of newly planted shoreline at Como Lake. We also removed old fencing at the Victoria rain garden. Finally, we spent some time in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) removing buckthorn.
Wednesday, August 8th
Wednesday began with finishing the fencing project along Como Lakeshore. We then removed the seed heads of burdock in CWOC. We have been working diligently to keep this pesky invasive species out of the park and have noticed that our efforts have been helping.
Katie showing the burdock seed heads that we removed
Thursday, August 9th
On Thursday, we visited the rain gardens in the Como neighborhood and did maintenance on them. We removed some invasive plants and thinned out other crowded plants. The gardens are looking very nice and functioning well to filter storm water after rain events rather than allowing it to run right into the storm drains and flow, unfiltered, into local bodies of water. Beautiful and great for the environment!

Friday, August 10th
To conclude the week, we worked at CWOC again removing buckthorn and clearing an area of all plant life in preparation for the beginning of a new project.