Bowing to pressure from agribusiness groups and select lawmakers, Gov. Mark Dayton made statewide news with a surprise announcement in late-January: a major portion of the 2015 buffer bill is being rolled back. As a result, hundreds of miles of private ditches will be exempt from buffer requirements and will continue to carry polluted farm runoff into Minnesota's waters.
Without a buffer strip of grass or other perennial vegetation, water runs straight off a farm field, carrying phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment into nearby streams, lakes and rivers.
Last month's view was from West Island Avenue on Nicollet Island looking west towards the North Loop neighborhood. The three round iron structures in the water are "mooring cells" which provided a parking spot for barges when the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock was in operation. Now that the lock is closed, these structures could have an alternative use or be removed in the future. Also visible in the photo is the mouth of Basset Creek, which enters the river at approximately 5th Ave N, and the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.
Territorial drumming of this common Minnesota species echoes throughout our late-winter woods.
Declining water levels in White Bear Lake have been big news for the northeast metro area for some time. (Photo Freshwater Society)
Recently the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released a much-anticipated report detailing cost estimates for pumping water from the Mississippi River to refill or "augment" shrinking White Bear Lake. The potential price tag?: $107 million, plus up to $4.1 million in annual operating costs. Given this, along with previous analyses casting doubt on such a system's potential effectiveness, FMR opposes any further state investment in such direct augmentation efforts.
Mid-January, Governor Dayton announced that his administration will host the Governor's Water Summit in St. Paul on Saturday, Feb. 27th. FMR and our conservation partners are working with the administration to help shape the summit and provide a much-needed focus on ideas that can help address agricultural water pollution, the largest source of pollution to the Mississippi River. Summit registration has closed, but you can still play a role and help set its agenda by taking the Governor's Clean Water Summit Survey.
Long-eared owls (yes, there's more than one) in a red cedar as seen through a spotting scope roughly 60 feet from the tree so as not to disturb their roost. Photo by Alexander Leo Lewanski.
Most owls are solitary creatures, however some Midwestern species do in fact roost communally, such as the closely related long-eared (Asio otis) and short-eared (Asio flammeus) owls.
FMR Communications Manager sue rich (left) and Volunteer Coordinator Amy Kilgore (right)
Friends of the Mississippi River is excited to announce key staff changes in the new year. As we grow and take on new work, we're adapting our staffing to better address the huge range of activities in the works for 2016.
This month's view is from a quieter part of our river corridor than the urban views of the past few months. Have you been to this lovely off-the beaten-track winter wonderland?
A little more green, please — for a healthy river and riverfront communities. (Aerial view, from the north, above Saint Anthony Falls.) Courtesy City of Minneapolis
Good news: The Minneapolis park board now owns over half the land needed to bring continuous riverfront parks and trails to the banks of the Mississippi River in north and northeast Minneapolis. FMR is continuing to advocate for and support the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s acquisition work while also investigating ways to work with north Minneapolis residents to increase and strengthen their local riverfront access.
A healthy whitetail deer will eat around five pounds of food per day. Photo from www.northamericanwhitetail.com.
Perhaps drinking from the river or bounding through blufflands, deer are a welcome sight on any oudoor excursion. From an ecological perspective, however, an overabundance of deer are creating problems. It turns out many uncommon native plants are especially tasty. But invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard? Not so much. Compounded by earthworms and climate change, our treasured whitetails may play a large role in the future of our forests.