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The river is just a few blocks away but it may as well be miles. But community members, FMR and our Northside partners are working to change that. (Photo courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield.)

What's it like to walk to the river along Dowling Avenue North in Minneapolis? Harsh, inspiring and beautiful are all words that were used when we joined neighbors in lacing up our walking shoes and heading to the river on two warm September evenings.

With great change on the horizon for where Dowling meets the Mississippi (new riverfront parkland!), we walked and talked and imagined the possibilities. We'd hoped that bringing people to these spaces would spark interest in advocating for improved public access to the riverfront and we were not disappointed. We hope you'll join us too! >>

October 2017
Gray squirrel feeding on a tree branch

'Tis the season for gray squirrels to fatten up.

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. >>

October 2017
Volunteer-bred monarch

Monarchs face a complex array of threats, but volunteers are acquiring much-needed data to help the embattled species survive.

Through heat, rain and mosquitos, eight dedicated FMR volunteers surveyed a patch of milkweed plants throughout the summer, hunting for the eggs and larvae of monarch butterflies. Their efforts, combined with hundreds of others', help researchers better understand the complex ecological needs of our iconic, declining monarchs. >>

October 2017
Saint Paul's first storm-drain mural!

FMR worked closely with neighborhood groups and local artist Gustavo Lira to design St. Paul's first storm-drain mural. The koi fish represents Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, the music notes Como Dockside and the snapping turtle Como Lake.

When you think of a storm drain, what do you see? The concrete of the street, perhaps a metal grate. How about a pathway to our local lakes or the Mighty Mississippi? Or a large beautiful painting that helps illustrate this connection with our local waters?

Now you can check out such a work of art along Como Lake in St. Paul. The result of an 18-month collaborative partnership, the new mural is the first of its kind in St. Paul, possibly in the metro. >>

October 2017
row crops and water tower

Annual crops planted in rows, like corn and soybeans, are treated with nitrate fertilizers that are increasingly ending up in Minnesotan's drinking water. (Photo by Weekly Grist, Joe Dempsey.)

We can all agree that clean, safe drinking water should be accessible and affordable for everyone regardless of geography or income. Sadly, that’s not the case for many Minnesotans.

Nitrate used in cropland fertilizer is a leading source of drinking water contamination in Minnesota. Although essential for plant growth and health, excess nitrate harms aquatic life and human health and drives the formation of the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. It's also extremely costly to Greater Minnesota communities.

That’s why FMR is working with our conservation allies to strengthen a new Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule – one of the few places in state law where regulators can require row-crop farming operations, the biggest source of nitrates, to reduce pollution to our waters. >>

October 2017
West Publishing and county jail site in downtown St. Paul

After spending millions to demolish city and county-owned buildings built into and atop the bluff just west of where Wabasha bridge meets downtown, St. Paul and Ramsey County are once again looking for a developer to return the site to the tax rolls and strengthen St. Paul's riverfront.

The redevelopment of the former West Publishing and county jail site on the bluffs of the Mississippi in downtown St. Paul hit another snag recently when the landowner, Ramsey County, and the prospective developer, Cardon Development Group, decided to part ways. The county is now considering plans that call for less parking.

FMR has been closely following efforts to redevelop the site and recently served on a task force formed by the county and the city to provide guidance. >>

September 2017

Many FMR supporters recognized this spot and the ruins of the first and northernmost lock and dam on the Mississippi River where St. Paul meets Minneapolis. >>

September 2017
The paired, bright red berries of bush honeysuckles are easy to spot in the fall.

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! >>

September 2017

Water levels in White Bear Lake have fallen due to excessive pumping from the aquifer underneath the lake.

In a sweeping order, Ramsey County Judge Margaret Marrinan faulted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for authorizing unsustainable groundwater pumping; depleting the aquifer and artificially lowering water levels in White Bear Lake. The ruling could have widespread implications for groundwater management in Minnesota.

September 2017

We asked readers what inspires them to reflect upon the river and received a wide range of thoughtful and beautifully written responses. May you enjoy their poems and stories as much as we did!
This issue features works by Ellen Fee, Chelsi Kahl, Jim Larson, Christine Bronk, Linda Moua, Margie O'Laughlin, Sarah Degner Riveros, Willow Thompson and Justin Florey. >>

August 2017

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