When Susan Goebel moved to Woodbury a few years ago, she began looking for opportunities to make friends and get involved in the community. In West Bend, Wis., where she had lived for years, she had been a town clerk and a town supervisor. She worked as a volunteer coordinator, taught classes at a nearby technical college, helped establish the first-ever land use plan and recycling program in West Bend, and was an organic gardener and an avid traveler. Now, as a retiree, she was looking for ways to stay engaged and help support local environmental efforts.
Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but it is also the land of 10 million wetlands. These oft misunderstood features are sometimes wet, sometimes dry, but always important to people and wildlife. Officially, there are eight types of wetlands in Minnesota: bogs, shallow and deep marshes, shallow open water, shrub and wooded swamps, seasonal basins, wet meadows, and calcareous fens. In the blurry intersection between water and land, frogs lay their eggs, carnivorous plants devour passing insects, and boisterous red-winged blackbirds sway from the tops of cattails.
"Backswimmer, scud, dragonfly nymph, water boatman, another water boatman..." My son had just woken up from a nap and stumbled bleary-eyed to a clearing near the Mississippi River where our group was peering intently at a bucket full of river water. Within seconds, he was rattling off the names of aquatic invertebrates we'd found, proud to share his knowledge with the families gathered. I could hear an excited murmur in the group as other children began to recognize differences in the shapes and movements of the critters as well.
In 1961, newly elected President John F. Kennedy launched a program to help mitigate poverty around the world and spread American ideas and goodwill. The Peace Corps program captured the attention of young people around the country, and thousands of applications poured in for the inaugural cohort of volunteers. "The wisdom of this idea is that someday we'll bring it home to America," Kennedy proclaimed.
'Tis the season for gratitude, and this Thanksgiving I'm counting flushing toilets among my many blessings in life. What did people do before toilets were invented? Well, depending on where they lived, they either walked outside to use the outhouse in the freezing cold or did their business in a chamber pot and then dumped it in the street the next day. Consider using that approach this Thanksgiving!
If you sit very quietly in the middle of a tamarack fen and close your eyes, you can hear a goose honking in the distance, a red-winged blackbird trilling from the cattails, and 24 little kids, desperately trying to be still.
What do you love most about Minnesota's water and what are your biggest concerns? Earlier this year, Gov. Mark Dayton announced an initiative to reduce water pollution in Minnesota by 25 percent by the year 2025. A supporting bill was introduced to the Legislature by Republican Sen. Carrie Ruud, who is chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance committee. Without additional action, the quality of Minnesota's waters is expected to improve only 6 to 8 percent by 2034.
The number in Washington County is up to 22. In Chisago County it is 12. Anoka has 16 and Ramsey has 29. Statewide, approximately 5 percent of the 11,000 lakes in Minnesota are now infested by aquatic invasive species (AIS).
When Jack MacKenzie was a golf course superintendent, he never had time to take care of his own lawn at home. The long hours of the job also left little time for hobbies he enjoys like camping up north in the Boundary Waters. After a job change, he dove into new projects in his local community, joining the Forest Lake Parks, Trails and Lakes Commission and the Comfort Lake — Forest Lake Watershed District's Citizen Advisory Committee.
Remember back in grade school when the kid in front of you at the drinking fountain would slurp away for what seemed like an eternity until finally someone screamed, “Save some for the whales!?” Well, I’m betting that kid grew up, bought a house with a big lawn, and programmed his automatic sprinklers to go off every other day, regardless of whether it is raining or not.