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Land Conservation

Cheers to Flannery & her award-winning earthworm research with FMR!

Flannery Enneking-Norton stands with her award-winning project at this month's Twin Cities Regional Science Fair.

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. >>

March 12

Special Places: Minneapolis' riverfront Above the Falls

View of downtown Mpls from the Lowry bridge

View from the Lowry Bridge in North and Northeast Minneapolis looking south towards downtown.

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.

This month: Minneapolis’s riverfront Above the Falls.

The Minneapolis riverfront north of St. Anthony Falls is an interesting juxtaposition of the natural, urban and industrial. Here you can enjoy bike and pedestrian trails, or rent a kayak to see a heron rookery, restored prairie, riverfront raingarden parks and sculptures, as well as industrial relics. You'll also want to visit often over the next decade to experience the changing riverfront, as more industrial sites are converted into public parklands.

February 12

If you build it, will they come? Investigating whether restored habitat means more wildlife.

A red fox ventures into an open, grassy area.

Bird surveys and wildlife cameras (one of which captured this red fox on film) have long provided a glimpse of how wildlife use our restoration sites. But recently we've been greatly expanding our monitoring to include amphibians, reptiles, pollinators and other insects.

Since the creation of our land conservation program over 20 years ago, FMR has protected, restored or enhanced over a thousand acres of prairie, forest, wetland and other types of wildlife and pollinator habitat in the metro area. But does increasing native habitat result in the return of native animals?

Learn about bird surveys, wildlife cams and our work with local high schools to find out. >>

February 9

Nature Notes: Let's talk turkeys

A wild turkey displaying its feathers

A wild turkey struts his stuff.

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. >>

November 13

FMR bids farewell to longtime Conservation Director Tom Lewanski

Thank you Tom Lewanski

Bill Clinton was President, Arne Carlson was Minnesota’s governor, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a sixth NBA championship and Google was founded in a California garage, but the big news in 1998 was that Tom Lewanski was hired as FMR's first conservation director. After more than 19 years of outstanding service to FMR and our great river — having protected or restored 2,800 acres of prairie, forest, wetlands and other natural areas — Tom is leaving. 

September 13

Walk amongst the invaders (video)

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!

August 7

Saying goodbye to a dear friend, Tecla Karpen

Tecla Karpen and students in "Karpen Woods"

Tecla Karpen and local Hastings students helping to restore "Karpen Woods" on the blufftop.

Local conservation hero, educator and environmental advocate Tecla Rose Karpen passed away in late May.

I first met Tecla in 1999 during a visit to her bluffland home along the Mississippi River in Hastings. As the relatively new conservation director at FMR, I was spending a lot of time out of the office meeting landowners and trying to understand the lay of the land. Tecla was one of the first.

June 21

Losing our cottonwoods: What’s at stake?

Installing cottonwood live stakes in the floodplain forest near Hastings

On a recent rainy October morning, volunteers from 3M helped FMR ecologists install over 300 cottonwood live stakes near the river in Hastings. Vital for wildlife and floodplain forests, cottonwoods have not been regenerating along the river. In 2013, FMR began a series of experimental plantings to help restore these imperiled icons. So far, live staking appears to be a promising method.

A key species of floodplain forests, Eastern Cottonwood trees aren't regenerating naturally in the floodplains. FMR ecologists and volunteers are using cottonwood cuttings or live stakes to re-establish a floodplain forest in Hastings.

November 7