Thursday, November 29, 2012

Conservation Corps Updated: November 26th-29th

Post contributed by Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors Crew 2:

Hauling brush from Mississippi River Boulevard
The last week of November's fairly mild temperatures allowed our crew to accomplish a variety of projects. Monday, the crew worked in Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom loading and hauling out the "firewood" size chunks left behind from previous volunteer brush hauling efforts. This helps to improve the natural aesthetic of the area. CWOC users wandering through the classroom will notice fewer pieces of wood with saw cut ends littering the forest floor.
Continuing the theme of removing materials, the crew focused their efforts on Tuesday along the Mississippi River Boulevard. They scoured the stretch from Shadow Falls to the North Gate of Hidden Falls for brush that they worked at cutting in previous weeks. The ultimate goal is to provide the many desired saplings planted this spring ample space and sunlight to grow and develop into a mature upland forest.

Raking leaves at Lake Phalen
We've been fortunate that there isn’t much snow yet to slow us down on our projects, especially for raking leaves. Both Youth Outdoors crews concentrated their focus at Lake Phalen on Wednesday performing forest litter management in effort to diminish the leaf litter in the restored prairies and raingardens along the shoreline. Leaves form dense mats which suffocate the vegetation beneath preventing sprouting in the spring. The mats of leaves, in addition to suppressing resprouts, also make it difficult for much needed prescribed burns to move through the prairie in the spring.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: November 13th-17th

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

Restoration work
around Lake Como

The weather has continued to be warm and sunny.  We realized the other day that with our youth group we have only pulled out our rain jackets twice during their eleven week program.  

This week our efforts have been focused on finishing a big section of the restoration work to be done around Lake Como.  We finished spreading compost and native grass seeds and some grass plugs.  We covered these areas with erosion fabric in order to help prevent erosion while the grasses establish.  

A glimpse at the new trails in
the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom

In Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, we hauled out previously cut logs to improve the natural aesthetic of the area.  We also cleared a propagation area that the environmental department plans to use in the future as a native plant nursery.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: November 6th-10th

Post contributed by Minnesota Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors Crew 2:

Erosion fabric with native grasses plugged in will make this
section of lakeshore more natural and less prone to erosion.

On Wednesday, we spent the day planting native grasses and forbs all along the Como lakeshore.  These native plants will grow to have extremely long root structures which will help to prevent further erosion on the lakeshore and improve the water quality too! 
On Friday, we continued planting for the majority of the day and also did other tasks around Como lakeshore. Through the day we worked on some trail erosion sites that we will try to transform into native grass areas. Funds for this project have been provided by a grant that the City of Saint Paul recieved from the Clean Water Funds for water resources restoration.

Volunteers recieving instruction for the
volunteer event at Crosby Park on Saturday morning.

On Saturday, the entire Youth outdoors program along with our youth participated in a volunteer event at Crosby Park near the Mississippi River. It was beautiful weather as we began the day with hauling buckthorn and other undesirable tree species that were recently cut down in the Floodplain Forest section of the park. This removal work created some more open space in the canopy which will create a more favorable environment for more desirable tree species to grow. Later in the morning, we planted seeds of hackberry, basswood, and bur oak trees to replace the removed invasives. Thank you to REI for helping us to recruit volunteers and for providing snacks and t-shirts to get us all movitated! We were excited to have groups from Audubon and Big Brothers Big Sisters working with us on Saturday as well. Great work everyone!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Conservation Corps Update: October 31st to November 3rd

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

This last week the Youth Outdoor Crew 2 worked at a couple different locations, the Mississippi River Boulevard and Como Lakeshore.
Wednesday, the crew spent the day sweeping the bluff area along Mississippi River Boulevard for buckthorn and honeysuckle to remove. This effort is a continuation of the initial sweep that occurred last year to restore the area to a native upland forest and open up the understory so that the river can be spotted from the Boulevard. 
Thursday, the youth crews worked at Bruce Vento Regional Trail close to Lake Phalen hauling out invasive trees and shrubs that the crew had cut in the last few weeks. By the end of the evening the crew had removed all the down brush which makes a considerable difference in the understory.
Friday and Saturday, we worked at Como Lakeshore installing biologs in four different areas around the lake to help stabilize the bank. After installing the biologs, we backfilled in areas then put down some erosion control netting and compost to seed native species. After seeding we covered it with fabric to keep the seeds in place in hopes for them to germinate next spring.  In addition to seeding in some areas we have been planting native plugs to give the area a jump start next spring. In a few short months you’ll be able to see a noticeable difference!