Monday, April 29, 2013

Como Park Bluebird Trail Update: April 29th

Post contributed by Sharon, volunteer bluebird trail monitor:

Our late spring means a late start on the bluebird trail this year.  Seven boxes are up and ready; one has the beginnings of a nest, either bluebird or chickadee (it is cup shaped, like a bluebird’s, but there is moss inside, like a chickadee’s), and the rest are empty.  Bluebirds are here now and can be heard and seen in the park and on the golf course.  In one of the boxes put up in early April, I found a dead male bluebird.  Perhaps the cold winter weather of the past few weeks was too much for him.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Removing trash!

Post contributed by David of Conservation Corps of Minnesota's Youth Outdoors crew:

I think it is safe to say that spring is officially here and in full swing. Yet I’m hesitant to say it, as just last week I was watching a polar bear have a field day rolling around in fresh powder while shoveling off pathways in the zoo, and now I’m explaining the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion to our youth crews. 

Preparing a raingarden for spring.

The theme for the week was spring cleaning. We traveled around to various rain gardens installed in the Capitol Region Watershed District. We removed garbage that had collected and cut back dead plant growth to make room for new greenery. Why are we concerned with rain gardens you say? Good question. Rain gardens, besides beautifying the surrounding area, help to reduce water pollution by capturing rain water and preventing excess water and pollutants from getting into our lakes and rivers. Want to help improve water quality in your neighborhood? Install a rain garden by your home or team up with neighbors and install one together! This is the perfect time to start, plus there are many plant sales occurring now that can help supply you with all the plants you’d need.
Cleaning out storm grates at Lake Como.

Sometimes rain gardens aren’t enough to capture all the sediment and debris in the streets; luckily there are storm grates to prevent too much debris from getting into our water bodies. This week we cleaned out storm grates that drain into Como Lake. We donned rubber boots and wadded out into the lake cleaning leaves, sediment, and garbage from the drains. It was wet and dirty and we loved it, as it was a beautiful day and we got to spend it at a beautiful place. Perhaps you saw us in the lake, laughing and working hard, come say hi next time, we won’t bite. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring time is here...or is it?

Post contributed by Meg from Conservation Corps of Minnesota's Youth Outdoors crew:

This week our crews continued to do green ash and Siberian elm removal at Round Lake.  The geese and ducks have been visiting us on the lake, and you can feel spring coming.  Or is spring coming?  This week has been oddly cold and snowy, and it has been documented as the snowiest April for the Twin Cities in 11 years!

In addition to working at Round Lake, one of our crews did tree removal and Phalen Golf Course, and the other crew girdled green ash trees at Crosby Farm.  In some cases, we prefer to girdle trees rather than cut and remove them. We are very careful about selecting trees that are undesirable species, and ones that will not create any hazards to park users once they die. Leaving these dead trees standing provides great habitat for many wildlife species such as wood ducks. Crosby Farm is the largest natural park in the Saint Paul system of parks!  Read more about the park here:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Slowing the Spread of Emerald Ash Borer

Post contributed by Meredith of Youth Outdoors Crew 1:

Conservation Corps crew
removing green ash trees

                This past week the Youth Outdoors leaders and crew members have been working diligently on removing and abating growth of green ash trees in Saint Paul’s parks.  The work this week has been focused primarily at Round Lake which is adjacent to Lake Phalen.  The week started with our adult crew members felling green ash trees for our youth to pile into five giant brush piles along the east shore of Round Lake.  Our work felling and hauling ash trees resulted in a great educational opportunity for our Youth on the importance and implications of managing for the Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) through removing ash trees in our local parks.
                We discussed that a “boring” insect, such as the EAB (which is, actually very interesting), can compromise the health and natural defenses of a tree.  The presence of EAB, whose larvae live and develop under the bark of Ash trees, reduces a tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients through its vascular system. This compromises the overall health of the tree and makes it more susceptible to disease.  Some symptoms of EAB such as “D” shaped holes in the bark and increased wood-pecker activity were mentioned. More information about identifying trees infested with EAB can be found here
We also discussed the importance of removing healthy trees in order to prevent the spread of EAB.  EAB continues to march outward from its initial appearance in Michigan in 2002 and was found in Saint Paul Parks in 2009.  By removing the host species, or Ash trees, of the Emerald Ash Borer, we can attempt to stop the pest in its tracks.  Information about nationwide spread and management of EAB can be found here. In addition to the Saint Paul’s effort to stop EAB, here are some steps the public can take to help save our Ash trees:
                The week was an excellent reminder for both the youth and adult members of the Youth Outdoors program of why we work so hard cutting and hauling tons upon tons of logs and brush.  It was rewarding to see our hours of hard work in neat piles at the end of the week, ready to be hauled off and burned as biofuels in Saint Paul’s downtown power plant.