An April prescribed burn rolls through a blufftop prairie at the Flint Hills Pind Bend Bluffs property. (Photo by Karen Schik.)
Spring has officially sprung, and with it comes those familiar signs of life: plants begin to green, flowers bloom, migrating birds return, and fires burn through the prairies at FMR restoration sites!
Learn more about how we use fire to restore wildlife habitat, and the impact of a recent unplanned fire on an FMR restoration site. >>
Three cheers to Flannery Enneking-Norton and her first-place finish at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair. Her project "Confirming the facilitative relationship between Lumbricidae and Rhamnus cathartica" also earned honors from the USDA and Minnesota Horticultural Society.
In 11th grade, Flannery Enneking-Norton went on a field trip with her class and FMR staff to Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul. Their task? To identify and count certain plant and insect species, including invasive earthworms. As they wriggled from the ground, Enneking-Norton was smitten.
Since then, the St. Paul Academy high-schooler has been working hard to help FMR better understand the relationship between earthworms and their fellow invasive species, European buckthorn, at our habitat restoration sites.
The result? An interesting finding regarding the worst worm invader of all — nightcrawlers — and a first-place win for Enneking-Norton in the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair! Not to mention awards from the US Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Horticultural Society. >>
To celebrate our 25th year, each month in 2018 FMR staff will profile places along the metro Mississippi River that are near and dear to us, places that connect to FMR but that we also enjoy in our own downtime. By the end of our silver year, we'll have built a map of 25 special river places for you and yours to learn about, visit and enjoy.
First up: Houlton Conservation Area. Check out the backstory on this tale of transformation and mark your calendars to witness the return of a massive riverfront prairie! >>
One of the many types of forestry mowers used on FMR projects, often a bobcat or skidsteer with a modified front attachment.
You may think winter is the offseason for FMR’s outdoor work – a time when our ecologists are huddled inside for warmth, writing reports and grants, and pining for spring. But restoration work doesn’t stop because of snow. In fact, some tasks are specifically timed for the cold season, and set the stage for work throughout the year.
Once on the brink of extinction in Minnesota and beyond, wild turkeys are now a common sight for Twin Cities and greater Minnesota residents alike. This November, take a minute to learn about this wild animal with an interesting history. >>
An aerial view of a prairie in progress. On the left: stubble left over from the fall soybean harvest. On the right: the half of the field worked up for broadcast seeding native prairie species.
It's not every day that FMR ecologists get to convert 180 acres of soybean and farm fields back to native prairie. Sure, we return park lawns and buckthorn thickets to prairie every year, but individual project sites rarely crack the 100-acre mark.
So we're especially excited about beginning the large-scale transformation at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River. Check out some photos from the first steps of creating this much-needed pollinator and wildlife habitat at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers!
Each year, the cool fall weather is accompanied by a flurry of wildlife activity. Most species are busy preparing for the winter — gathering and storing food, prepping their nests and burrows, and putting on a few extra pounds. In the Twin Cities, no animal is a better example of this than the gray squirrel.
While many residents consider them a bit of a nuisance — chattering from the trees, darting across streets, and leaving piles of chewed food on decks and sidewalks — these smart little critters have an interesting history and impressive adaptations that allow them to flourish in our human-dominated landscape. >>
The paired, bright red berries of bush honeysuckles are easy to spot in the fall. Unfortunately, their beauty belies some serious negative effects on our feathered friends.
Each fall, two common invasive plants produce starkly colored berries: European buckthorn bears shiny jet-black fruit while bush honeysuckle produces brilliant red to yellow berries. Unfortunately, birds that dine on the fruit not only spread the invasives' seed but are negatively impacted by the berries themselves — they can even disrupt some birds' mating patterns! >>
Ever wonder what keeps FMR ecologists up at night? Buckthorn and crown vetch may have pretty glossy leaves or flowers, but for anyone who cares about wildlife, they're a serious threat to forest and prairie habitat in the metro river corridor.
Join FMR ecologist Alex Roth for a walk through our most common invasives: buckthorn, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, burdock, spotted knapweed and crown vetch. Along the way, you'll learn why they matter and how to identify and remove them in your own back yard. All in two minutes!
Thank you Tom Reiter and Will Stock for creating this wonderful video!
Yengsoua Lee, an MWMO Green Team alumni intern, helps survey trees on Nicollet Island as part of his time with FMR.
Marking storm drains with youth groups, measuring trees, removing invasive species — it was all in a week's work for Yengsoua Lee.
Although here a short time through an internship program with Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Yengsoua (pronounced Yeng-shu-a) experienced a breadth of FMR programming and was able to participate in a variety of field and office events, providing invaluable help to multiple FMR staff. In turn, Yengsoua’s experience at FMR and other Twin Cities environmental organizations will help him as he pursues a degree in environmental science and an eventual career in the environmental field.