Wetland Restoration Funding Available!

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Anoka Sand Plain Rare Plant Rescue

The Anoka Sand Plain (ASP) Rare Plant Rescue Program had a busy year in 2023! Thanks to the assistance of partners and volunteers, we:

  • Rescued over 900 state threatened and endangered plants from 3 new sites!
  • Transplanted over 600 rescued plants and species from seed germination trials.
  • Collected seed from 5 rare plant ASP populations for genetic preservation in the MN Landscape Arboretum's Rare Plant Seed Bank.
  • Began stem cutting and/or germination experimentations on Gaylussacia baccata (Black Huckleberry) and Rubus sp. (Bristle-berries).
  • Collaborated with the City of Blaine to adjust land management practices around a rare population of Endangered Aristida longespica (Slimspike Three-awn).
  • Implemented follow-up monitoring of previous rescue transplants to calculate survival and record success rates of locations and methods.
Left to Right: Rescuing Lance-leaved Violets before development begins. Transplanting Lance-leaved Violets into a protected natural area. Volunteers rescuing rare plants in Hugo, MN.

Looking Forward:

  • Plants rescued in 2023 are overwintering at the MN Landscape Arboretum and will be ready to move into their new homes in 2024.
  • As habitat loss continues, we will continue to seek out and survey new suitable habitats for the rescued transplants.
  • Research efforts will continue as we expand our knowledge about these rare species.
  • Conservation plans are being developed for the rare species of the ASP, outlining methods and protocols for plant rescue and conservation.
We are anticipating additional rescue events in 2024. Please stay tuned and sign up here to join our contact list! The ASP Rare Plant Rescue Program is currently funded by Lessards-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council using MN Clean Water Land and Legacy Funds. If you want to learn more about the rare plant rescue program contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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April Showers Bring Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are shallow wooded wetlands that fill with water in the spring and fall, then dry out in the summer. They may simply look like a large muddy puddle, but in reality these small depressions are filled with life and benefit local water quality.

  • Water Resource Benefits

By capturing water from snowmelt and heavy rains, vernal pools reduce the amount of runoff – and the contaminants it carries – reaching nearby surface waters and developed lands. This lowers flooding risks, improves water quality, and contributes to groundwater recharge as the trapped water slowly infiltrates through the soil.

  • Aquatic Invertebrates and Amphibians

Vernal pools rarely contain fish because their water levels fluctuate dramatically. This provides a safe haven for many invertebrate and amphibian species that would otherwise be heavily predated upon. Many depend on vernal pools during their egg and larval stages, leaving for nearby aquatic and terrestrial habitats once fully developed. Others spend their entire life within or near the wetland's depression.

  • Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals

Due to their abundance of amphibians and invertebrates, vernal pools supplement the food and water needs of wildlife such as waterfowl, songbirds, turtles, snakes, bats, and even bears. These benefits stem beyond the vernal pool itself when many of the invertebrates transition from aquatic larvae to terrestrial adults, serving as forage for insectivore species.

Explore and Protect

Vernal pools are highly sensitive to changes in vegetation cover, climate, and local topography. Because they are nearly invisible for much of the summer, they can be easily missed and destroyed if the land is modified; even an unintentional pass through these depressions during an ATV ride can strongly impact their function. 

Seasonal wetlands like vernal pools are regulated under the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA). You can prevent impacts to vernal pools on your property by marking their boundaries when visible in the spring and avoiding disturbance throughout the year. This is also a great time to explore the abundance of wildlife in and around these wetlands – an especially popular adventure for children.

Additional Resources

"Spring-to-Life Ponds": an Illustrated Learning Guide, produced by the MNDNR

MN Frog ID and Calls and Common Vernal Pool Invertebrates, produced by the MPCA and University of Wisconsin

Locating and Protecting Vernal Pools, produced by the MN Land Trust 

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Winter Work is Underway!

Believe it or not, winter is a busy time of year for ACD's field crew. This winter, our buckthorn crew has started a five-year restoration project at Lamprey Pass Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Columbus, MN. A popular destination for waterfowl hunting, Lamprey Pass is the second largest WMA in the North Metro. 

Buckthorn thicket after clearing
Buckthorn thicket before clearing
ACD Technicians next to a huge Common Buckthorn 

The Lamprey Pass site is currently overrun with common buckthorn, a large invasive shrub that crowds woodland understories and shades out native plants. ACD's crew is working hard to remove this invasive plant from the WMA, creating a more open habitat which will benefit native plant species and make the woodlands more hospitable for hunters. The images above and below demonstrate the impact of clearing buckthorn on the site. For more information about treating buckthorn, contact Logan Olson, Restoration Technician at Logan.Olson @AnokaSWCD.org 

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Increasing Biodiversity in Prairies

Prairie once covered 1/3 of Minnesota. Today only a little more than 1% of native prairie remains. Prairie is a key habitat for 34 Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and for many at-risk pollinators in Minnesota. It is important to maintain and enhance the little prairie that is remaining to help out these important species. Anoka County Parks maintains prairie habitat on County land with prescribed burns every 3 to 5 years. ACD helped manage weeds before the scheduled burns and overseeded a custom seed mix for each site after the burns. The native seed mixes contain species that are minimally present or not present at all the prairie units. Species that benefit at-risk pollinators were included in the mixes. The goal is to enhance the prairies by reducing non-native weeds and increasing native biodiversity. 

Pre-burn, August 2022, showing weedy hoary alyssum. ACD conducted weed control in 2023
Sally, ACD Seasonal District Technician, assisted Anoka Parks and Red Rock Fire with the Pasture Unit prescribed fire earlier this fall and is pictured here seeding on bare soil.

Bunker Hills Regional Park Pasture Unit includes a wetland depression surrounded by dry prairie. Site preparation involved controlling non-native woody encroachment and monoculture patches were sprayed or mowed. ACD overseeded following a prescribed burn in the fall. The seed mix contained 41 different forb species and 5 different grass species. A mix of wildflowers provided pollen and nectar sources for several endangered species of Bumble Bees. For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Now Taking Tree and Shrub Orders!

ACD is now taking orders for the 2024 tree sale! The district offers a variety of species including black cherry, mixed oak, maple, lilac and pine trees. Trees can be purchased as bare root seedlings in bundles of ten for $23.00, or twenty-five for $45.00, not including tax. Mixes of native prairie seed are also available. You do not need to be an Anoka County resident to order. Click here to learn more and place your order today! For more information contact Kathy Berkness, Office Administrator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Bundling for Healthier Lakeshores

ACD Staff and Interested Contractors Meeting to Review Upcoming Lakeshore Stabilization Project on Martin Lake

Eight Martin Lake residents, in collaboration with ACD, are bundling their individual lakeshore improvement efforts into one larger project. By joining efforts, they are hoping to save money while making the work more attractive to contractors. It seems to be working, as 15 contractors joined in the bidding process!

This upcoming project is being coordinated by ACD, who has completed designs and will be providing construction management. ACD has also been able to incorporate three state grants, making the project even more affordable. In exchange, the landowners are installing lakeshore stewardship practices that go above and beyond – utilizing natural materials, native plant buffers, and aquatic vegetation for habitat. Collectively, we'll make a healthier lake.

For a fun & informative 8-minute video about healthy lakeshores, watch ACD's video "Our Lakeshore Connection." For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Project Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Living Large on a Small Lake

Minnesota boasts an impressive 12,208 lakes, as classified by the Minnesota DNR. Among them, 8,402, or roughly 69%, are classified as 'natural environment lakes.' Anoka County is home to several natural environment lakes including Fawn, South Coon, and Island Lakes.

What defines a natural environment lake? These are the smaller, shallower lakes, typically less than 150 acres in size and less than 15 feet deep. They come with numerous developmental constraints and are particularly sensitive to disturbance. With lakeshore properties in high demand across Minnesota, many natural environment lakes are now being earmarked for development. However, it's important to note that the lakeshore experience offered by these lakes might not align with the typical desires for boating or swimming that potential buyers often have.

Learn more about natural lakes on November 8th through a webinar featuring Joe Bischoff, an aquatic ecologist at Barr Engineering Co. Joe will delve into the intricacies and benefits of natural environment lakes. Additionally, some of the ongoing local conservation efforts to monitor and protect natural environment lakes will be highlighted.

Register today at tinyurl.com/small-lakes

  432 Hits

It's Time For Buckthorn Busting

Fall is a great time to manage buckthorn on your property. Common and glossy buckthorn are invasive woody shrubs which aggressively outcompete native plants, disrupting the habitat benefits they provide. Buckthorn chemically alters the soil, creating an inhospitable environment for other plants.
Buckthorn leaves stay green longer than most other Minnesota woodland trees and shrubs so you'll easily notice them in mid to late October.
Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) can be found in upland forests. Look for the thorn, which can be found at the end of some branches. Glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) tends to grow in slightly wetter areas but can be found in a variety of habitats. There are no thorns. Look for the rust colored terminal bud.

New research from the University of MN suggests that buckthorn seeds do not persist in the soil for 6+ years as was previously thought. Their findings suggest that over 97% of seeds germinate in the first year. As you manage buckthorn, aim to prevent seed production on mature plants with mid-summer cutting and follow up with treatment of the small sprouts for the best results.

See ACD's buckthorn fact sheet for tips on identifying buckthorn, to learn about native look-alikes, and compare methods for controlling common and glossy buckthorn. For more information contact Logan Olson, Restoration Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Common Buckthorn
Glossy Buckthorn
  922 Hits

Pollinators and Partnerships

 ACD strives to build resilient pollinator corridors throughout Anoka County. This goal is accomplished by protecting and enhancing existing habitat and creating new habitat. ACD is fortunate to have local partners who also share this vision and are helping identify unused turf areas that can be converted to native plantings. ACD is currently working with the Cities of Fridley and Blaine to convert turf into prairie plantings in public green spaces. Half an acre of turf is being converted in Fridley's Commons Park and 0.3 acres of turf to prairie at Blaine's Laddie Lake Park. Staff from both cities prepared the sites and mowed the sites to prevent weeds from seeding. ACD staff seeded the sites in the spring. Members of the Cities and multiple volunteer groups planted native grasses and wildflowers to add to the seed mix.

These projects are funded by BWSR's Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot (HELP) grant. Other ACD HELP turf to pollinator projects are at Coon Lake County Park, Bunker Hills Regional Park and Ramsey River's Bend Park. The BWSR HELP grant also provides funds to enhance native prairies at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Bunker Hills Regional Park, Rum River Central Regional Park, Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve and Mississippi West Regional Park.

One way to help these projects is to donate your native prairie seeds, including milkweed seed. See ACD's previous post about milkweed seed collection. Watch this short video to see butterfly milkweed seed cleaning

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  496 Hits

Restoring Wetlands on Your Property

Minnesota is rich in wetlands which provide numerous benefits such as flood mitigation, groundwater recharge, water quality improvement, recreation, and high-quality habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife species. However, many wetlands exist in a degraded state due to decades of human disturbances such as drainage and filling to increase usable land for agriculture and urban development.

Recognizing their importance, many federal, state, and local agencies have developed programs to provide technical expertise and funding for wetland restoration projects. The goal of wetland restoration is to return a wetland to its natural functions, and the nature of each project depends on the wetland's unique location, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and impacts (historic and current).

Restoring wetlands on your property adds to its ecological value and can often be financially beneficial. Understanding your options can be complicated, which is why ACD – on behalf of, and with funding from, the Rum River Watershed Partnership – created a new wetland restoration brochure. In it, you will find information on benefits, approaches, processes, and funding options common for wetland restoration projects. Click here to access the brochure below.

Anoka County Residents: ACD currently has funding to support wetland restorations benefitting the Rum River! If you live near the Rum River, believe that you have impacted wetlands on your property, and are interested in restoring them, please contact Breanna Keith, Water Resources Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more. 

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ACD Wants your Milkweed Seed!

Do you have native milkweed plants on your property? If so, early fall is a great time to collect seed. Seeds are mature and ready for collection once they are darker brown. Milkweed pods will turn from green to brown, start to open up and reveal the brown seeds inside. Pods will continue to open up and the seed will fly out and disperse. However, it's ideal to collect seed before the pods fully open up and the seed fluff/silk develops. It is best to remove the fluff from the seed for storage. To separate the seed from the fluff, remove the entire stalk of seeds and fluff/silk from the seed pod, hold the end of the fluff/silk and gently push and pull the seeds off the fluff/silk. Watch this short video to see butterfly milkweed seed cleaning. Once the seed is "cleaned" (the fluff is removed), lay it out to dry completely, label the seed with the plant species name (common or butterfly milkweed), and write the date and location the seed was collected. Store dry seed in paper or mesh plastic bags.

ACD collaborates with Anoka County Parks and cities within Anoka County to enhance local native habitats. If you have native milkweed seed you would like to donate, ACD staff will happily take it and spread seed at appropriate locations. Contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There will be a waterproof box outside the ACD office for seed drop off. Be sure to label the milkweed species. ACD office address: 1318 McKay Dr NE Suite 300, Ham Lake, MN 55304. 

Meet The Milkweeds 

Common Milkweed ▪ Asclepias syriaca
Whorled Milkweed ▪ Asclepias verticillata
Butterfly Milkweed ▪ Asclepias tuberosa
Poke Milkweed ▪ Asclepias exaltata
Swamp Milkweed ▪ Asclepias incarnata
Green Milkweed ▪ Asclepias viridiflora

Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed. Let's help feed these hungry caterpillars!

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Invasive Knotweed

Knotweed is a species of increasing concern with several new populations across Anoka County. Knotweeds are herbaceous shrubs characterized by a sturdy, bamboo-like stalk which can grow to over 10 feet in a single season. They grow aggressively, especially along riparian areas where they outcompete native vegetation and create bare ground which enhances erosion damage. Knotweed can also grow through sidewalks and concrete foundations, damaging infrastructure.

There are three species of knotweed in MN: Giant, Japanese, and Bohemian which is a hybrid of the first two. All three Knotweed species are on the state noxious weed list as Prohibited Control species. Efforts must be made to stop their spread and propagation. Late August into September is the easiest time to spot Knotweed infestations due to their showy white flowers. You can help keep this species under control by entering sightings into EDDMaps or reporting them to ACD staff.

See links for Giant, Japanese, and Bohemian knotweed ID and knotweed management guidance from the MDA. 

Photos From MDA

For more information contact Logan Olson, Restoration Technician, at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

  530 Hits

Native Plantings: Worth The Effort

Native wildflowers, grasses, sedges, and shrubs provide numerous benefits to wildlife habitat, soil health, and water quality. They are also generally more resilient to fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, and foraging by wildlife than non-native species. However, native plantings can still be impacted by disturbances such as weather or the growth of invasive and weedy species. For these reasons and especially if a specific landscaped look is desired, maintenance is still required to help native plantings thrive and look their best.

Plants are most susceptible to die-off within the first 3-5 years of being planted. During this initial period, it is essential to frequently weed, water, and re-plant in areas where losses occur. Once established, native vegetation requires less maintenance but should still be regularly inspected for weeds and pruned or thinned as needed to ensure there is adequate sunlight available for all species. Large-scale restorations such as the conversion of former agricultural fields to prairie may require regular management through prescribed burns, grazing, or mowing to mimic cycles of natural disturbance and new growth. 

The most common barriers to achieving success in establishing native plants is failing to water  and remove weeds. These two actions make a big difference in the appearance and function of native landscaping features, as shown in these two photos – one of which is regularly weeded and watered (above left) and the other which has received less maintenance (above right). 

You can take several steps to make native landscape maintenance easier. First, make sure the species you plant are well-suited to the soil and sunlight conditions on your property. Plant into erosion control fabric or mulch to help reduce weed growth. Learn to identify the native species you choose and plant them in clusters to make it easier to spot weeds that pop up. Water native plantings, especially during times of drought. Weekly maintenance, especially during the critical establishment period, strongly increases the likelihood of success and prevents these tasks from becoming overwhelming. If weeds have taken over or you've noticed die-off in your native landscapes, it isn't too late! Use the following resources to help guide your native landscape rehabilitation endeavors.


For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Technician, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  698 Hits

Root Weevils Released at Anoka Nature Preserve for Biocontrol

At the beginning of August, we released 100 root boring weevils to help control a population of spotted knapweed at the Anoka Nature Preserve (ANP), in the City of Anoka. Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant native to Eurasia that is spreading across Minnesota. It releases a toxin that threatens nearby plants, giving it the tools to outcompete and dominate, and thereby decreasing biodiversity. 

Root boring weevils are a method of biocontrol that target knapweed without affecting surrounding native plants. As larvae, root weevils burrow into the roots of spotted knapweed and feed on them throughout winter and spring, leaving the plants dead or weakened. The weevils we released at ANP were adults who will lay their eggs at the base of the plants through early fall and hopefully begin to weaken the population of spotted knapweed within the preserve.

ANP was a promising candidate for root weevils biocontrol because the site has a large, dense population of spotted knapweed, and the weevils will not be disturbed by mowing or other land management activities. It can take several years to see the effects of the weevils, and the site will be monitored to see if they have been established. The weevils were provided by Monika Chandler from the MN Department of Agriculture, who delivered them in a sealed paper cup where they were kept refrigerated or in a portable cooler until the time of their release later in the afternoon. 

Article and photos provided by Sally Herman, Seasonal Technician with ACD  

  607 Hits

Bringing Fish to the Table for a Reimagined Rum River Dam

The City of Anoka successfully secured funding from the Minnesota Legislature to complete a feasibility analysis and project design, which should be complete by the spring of 2024. City of Anoka civic leaders and staff have embarked on a path to reimagine how the Rum River Dam in Anoka can serve the community for the next 100 years. The vision includes the following.

  • Safety and Operations: Replace manually installed flashboards with automated crest gates and install a maintenance platform.
  • Water level management: Enable active water level management to minimize flooding and erosion, benefit particular species, and respond to mounting climate extremes.
  • Energy: Install a hydroelectric power system to offset some of the power needs of downtown Anoka.
  • Recreation: Maintain water levels to accommodate boat traffic with the addition of a lock to allow passage of small boats. Establish a cross river trail as a second purpose for the maintenance deck.
  • Ecology: Create a fish bypass to connect the Rum River to the Mississippi River.
ACD's interest in this effort is primarily the potential fish passage around the dam. Because dams cut off natural fish spawning routes, the single most beneficial project that can be done to improve Rum River ecology is to connect the waterway to the Mississippi River in a way that fish can make the journey between the two rivers. Other examples of restoring connectivity, have dams being removed or converted into rapids with slow enough flows for fish to pass while still managing water levels. These approaches aren't practical for the Rum River Dam, however, because they don't allow for water level management to optimize recreation while minimizing property damage from erosion and flooding.

The option that is on the table is a constructed stream that flows around the side of the dam. Inspired by nature, it does its best to mimic natural streams providing irregular flows and small pools to rest along the way. The Oswegatchie River fish bypass at the Heuvelton dam in New York recorded 2,000 migratory fish of 14 species in 5 days in the first season it was opened. A group of experts has been assembled to provide crucial guidance over the coming months to ensure the designs for the fish bypass element of the project optimize success for targeted fish species.

For more information contact Chris Lord, District Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Landowner Story

Landowner prairie restoration: Site prep and seeding in 2022

 From Landowner, City of Andover:

Thanks for the encouragement, it's been quite the journey. So many more pollinators, less wasp problems around our house, and more butterflies! Even though there are lots of weed problems (buckthorn), crown vetch, and garlic mustard. And this is with one year of site prep! Crazy stuff… it is very encouraging to see how creation relies on each part of each other and the interaction between plants, animals, bees, etc. is fascinating to watch!

There were no current cost share funds available but ACD has been providing technical assistance to many landowners who are interested in starting prairies. Throughout Anoka County there is a lot of interest in prairie restoration.

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, Carrie.TaylorThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  535 Hits

Shallow Lakes Don’t “Stink”

Okay – the decay of organic materials in oxygen-poor shallow waters doesn't smell great. While this can worsen when nutrient pollution triggers excess algae growth, it is an otherwise natural process. Odor is a small price to pay for the vast benefits we receive from shallow lakes and wetlands; they retain floodwater and pollutants present in runoff, recharge groundwater, and provide fish and wildlife habitat that supports bountiful opportunities for hunting, fishing, bird-watching, and other outdoor recreation.

For many, the word "lake" triggers a vision of clear and deep water ideal for swimming and boating. However, over 5,000 of Minnesota's lakes larger than 50 acres are actually shallow lakes that are less than 15 feet deep and dominated by wetland habitat. In shallow lakes, sunlight reaching the lakebed, combined with readily available nutrients, increases the growth of aquatic plants. Shallow water also allows for more abundant emergent vegetation such as bulrush and  cattails, which can extend well beyond the shoreline and even become dominant, especially during periods of drought. Mucky lakebed conditions are produced as large quantities of organic materials die, settle to the bottom, and decompose over time.

Shallow lakes can exist in one of two states: clear or turbid. Clear shallow lakes are dominated by submerged vegetation, which often grows densely and can reach the water's surface. These aquatic plants are a source of food and habitat for fish and wildlife such as amphibians, waterfowl, and invertebrates at the base of both aquatic and terrestrial food webs. On the flip side, turbid shallow lakes are dominated by algae, which clouds up the water and restricts the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation. Turbid lakes typically support fewer fish and wildlife due to the lack of habitat provided by aquatic plants. 

Depiction of a clear, plant-dominated shallow lake versus a turbid, algae- dominated shallow lake. Image credit: Martin Scheffer, 2001.

Many shallow lakes are impacted by human activity, particularly those that are on the receiving end of stormwater and agricultural drainage networks. However, even the most impacted shallow lakes  are still valuable and can surprise us, as the recent plant inventory of Highland Lake in Columbia Heights proved when an uncommon pondweed species was found.

Check out MNDNR Shallow Lakes Program for more information about shallow lakes. Also, here's a great video produced by Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District about Minnesota's shallow lakes.

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$1.7M of Habitat Enhancement for the Rum River Corridor

$1.7M of state funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment was awarded for habitat enhancement in the Rum River Corridor. A broad-based partnership will bring an additional $215,000 in local matching funds. We will use these funds to enhance wildlife habitat from the headwaters in Lake Mille Lacs to where the Rum River joins the Mississippi River in Anoka. The Rum River Corridor is critical habitat for many rare species, including Blanding's Turtle and two types of mussels, to name a few. We will be doing habitat improvement projects from in the river to beyond the banks.

Links:
Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council
Outdoor Heritage Fund

For more information visit the links above or contact Jared Wagner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x200
  561 Hits

Rare Plant Rescue: Black Huckleberry

The Rare Plant Rescue team coordinates with the MNDNR and local developers to salvage rare plants before construction begins. The most recent salvage was focused on the State Threatened species Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) which was listed as a threatened species in 2013. After locating the plants, the top layer of leaves and sandy soil were carefully brushed away to expose the root systems. Staff dug by hand through the sandy soil, following the woody rhizome until it was connected to another black huckleberry plant. Whole sections of black huckleberry were unearthed, placed in water and transported to the MN Landscape Arboretum (MLA). Staff and volunteers potted the plants so they can grow in a controlled setting at the MLA throughout the summer. MLA staff also took stem and root cuttings to experiment with different propagation methods.

Plants that survive the salvage will be transplanted into a protected site in the fall. The study includes documenting the habitat type of the salvaged site, propagation methods, and rare plants previously planted at protected sites are monitored annually. Approximately 80 Black Huckleberry plants were transplanted during this recent rescue in Ham Lake.

For more information on the Rare Plant Rescue program contact Carrie Taylor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x130 

  798 Hits

Happy 1st Birthday Rain Gardens

Six curb-cut rain gardens were installed approximately one-year ago and have been capturing runoff and its associated pollutants ever since. With each rainfall, runoff flowing in the street gutter is redirected into the rain gardens via a cut in the curb. Following a rain event, the water that enters the rain gardens is able to soak into the ground, which better mimics the natural hydrology before impervious surfaces (e.g. roofs, driveways, roads, etc.) and storm sewers directed runoff directly to Rice Creek. The rain gardens are able to store water and are filled with native species that were carefully selected for the site-specific conditions (e.g. light, soil type, and moisture).

Cumulatively, the six rain gardens are estimated to infiltrate 455,000 gallons of water, as well as remove 605 pounds of sediment and two pounds of phosphorus loading to Rice Creek annually. The native plants help to maximize infiltration and provide the co-benefit of pollinator habitat. One additional rain garden is located adjacent to a trail entrance into Locke County Park, providing an excellent public education opportunity.

These rain gardens were installed in partnership with the landowners, the City of Fridley, and the Rice Creek Watershed District. ACD provided design services and construction oversight.  

The rain garden shown in the pictures below was planted last summer and as you can see, it didn't look like much at the time. Now, it looks beautiful and is full of flowers which pollinators love! This rain garden captures curbside runoff from 6.5 acres of neighborhood which previously went untreated to the Rum River. The native plant's roots create channels through the soil and reduce compaction, ensuring a maximum amount of water can infiltrate into the ground. The homeowners who worked with ACD to make this rain garden a reality, kept weeds at bay, and provided irrigation for the new plants during drought conditions!

Project funding was from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy amendment, and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. To see other rain gardens installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website.

For more information on rain gardens in Anoka County contact Mitch Haustein at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x150

  633 Hits

Gravel Bed Installed at ACD

 Gravel beds are designed to store bare-root trees and shrubs while enhancing root development. Gravel beds can be crafted from anything that can contain 18-inches of pea gravel, or can even be made from nothing more then piles of pea gravel.

Plants placed in gravel beds become stressed and put energy into creating fine root systems to find nutrients and water. After a few months, the well-developed root systems increase survival rates after planting by several fold. Gravel allows for root growth while making the plants easy to remove. Gravel also doesn't degrade and inhibits the growth of pathogens and weeds.

Bare-root trees and shrubs are easier to handle, cheaper to purchase, and come in greater varieties. Since bare-root plants are often only available in the early spring, the gravel bed can store bare-root plants for projects that have a summer or fall timeline. Plants with healthier root systems and higher survival rates are particularly important on projects where watering newly planted trees and shrubs is impractical.

ACD's gravel bed was envisioned and designed by Ethan Cypull, a Minnesota GreenCorps member that is currently stationed at ACD. Construction of the gravel bed was completed by Ethan and other ACD staff.

For more information contact Ethan Cypull, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763.434.2030 x120 

  742 Hits

Spring Fix-Ups to Protect Valuable Real Estate

Shorelines are some of the most valuable real estate. Both financially and ecologically. The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has stabilized nearly 4.5 miles of eroding stream or riverbank and 1 mile of lakeshore over the years. When possible we use natural materials, a technique called bioengineering, to create stable, beautiful places that benefit lake or river health.

Near-record snowfalls in winter 2022-23 gave way to spring flooding that impacted many shorelines. Making matters worse, just after ice out there were several days of strong north winds. South shores of our bigger lakes took a beating. The shorelines most impacted were those that are mowed to the edge and without other protections such as riprap. Some of ACD's fall 2022 shoreline bioengineering projects were impacted because the vegetation had not had time to mature.

In recent weeks ACD staff have repaired damaged projects, including at Lake George (see photos).One of the beauties of bioengineering is that a few people with basic tools can make quick work of repair. After growing and establishing this summer, these lakeshores will be ready for whatever next spring brings.

Shoreline homeowners interested in creating stable, ecologically-friendly shorelines can contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager at 763.434.2030 x210 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  568 Hits

Check out a recap of ACD's 2023 Tree Sale!

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  619 Hits

“Our Riverbank Connection” Animated Video

Recent extreme flooding has highlighted the dynamic and powerful nature of flowing water. If you live on a river or even a smaller stream, you've likely witnessed these characteristics and their impacts firsthand. With flood waters receding, now is a great time to assess the condition of your riverbank and consider stewardship and stabilization approaches that will help protect your property and the water you live on. Fortunately, we've created a brand new resource to help guide you through this process – the "Our Riverbank Connection" animated video!

Living by a creek, stream, or river provides many benefits and a unique opportunity to support water quality and wildlife. It also comes with some challenges such as erosion, which can eat away at your land over time. In this video, you will learn how to create a river-friendly lawn and riverbank that also protects your property by reducing or repairing losses from erosion. Video topics include:

  • Recommended lawn care practices
  • Signs of erosion and factors that may make your bank more susceptible to it
  • Creating a well-vegetated bank
  • Bank stabilization approaches to address active erosion
  • Project planning and construction – what to expect

Watch "Our Riverbank Connection" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9wLuIrRuA

Want to learn more about streams and rivers and how you can help them, even if you don't live on their banks? Watch Part 1 of the "Our River" Installment – "Our River Connection" – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdQEcmLyQJI 

  608 Hits

Rescuing Rubus fulleri – State Threatened Species

The Anoka Sand Plain Rescue team salvaged rubus fulleri just days after the snow melted and the take permit was issued. A recent development was designed to avoid impacts to natural/uncropped wetlands and leave a natural area that contains most of the rare plants on the site. However, a subpopulation of rubus fulleri was to be impacted since there was no feasible way to avoid the areas due to construction constraints. 


Staff from ACD, Critical Connections Ecological Services and the MN Landscape Arboretum salvaged whole plants and cut stems/canes. Plants were taken to the MN Landscape Arboretum where they will be potted. Stems/canes were cut into pieces ensuring each piece included a bud and was potted. The Arboretum is experimenting with different propagation techniques and will keep the rubus  on-site until the fall. At that time, plants will be transferred to ecologically appropriate protected site where they can be monitored for survival and growth.  

Root tipping – yellow circles show rooting at the base and the tip

Rubus fulleri was designated as a state-threatened species in 2013. In Minnesota, this species is restricted to the shallow wet meadows of the Anoka Sand Plain. Following a century of agricultural and residential development in this region, few high quality examples of R. fulleri habitat are known in the state. Rubus fulleri is most threatened by habitat loss, with populations becoming more isolated and fragmented. Active management, including prescribed fire and invasive species control is needed to maintain a viable R. fulleri population.

Rubus Anatomy:

Cane: a biennial, woody shoot which grows out of the perennial crowns and roots

Primocane: first year cane, mainly comprised of vegetation growth

Floricane: the same cane in the second year, bearing the flowers and fruits, then dies back


Rubus fulleri traits include canes that arch and trail along the ground. They also root tip, meaning the tip of the trailing cane grows roots into the ground. 

For more information contact Carrie Taylor at 763.434.2030 ext.190 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  545 Hits

Lawns to Legumes Grant Application Open Now!

The MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is accepting applications for the Lawns to Legumes grant program through June 30, 2023. Any Minnesota landowner can apply for up to $350 in reimbursements for creating new pollinator habitat on their property. This includes pollinator gardens or meadows, bee lawns, and native tree or shrub plantings.

Grant recipients must contribute 25% match in the form of purchasing materials, hiring contractors, or as in-kind time spent planting and maintaining the project.

Find resources for planning your pollinator planting, choosing native plants, and applying for a grant on the BWSR Lawns to Legumes website. 

  771 Hits

Garlic Mustard Pull at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard Pull at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
May 16th, from 9:00 am - 11:00 am


Join ACD and Cedar Creek staff to remove an invasive Garlic Mustard patch from the interior of Cedar Creek property. Bring bug spray, water bottle, long pants and hiking boots as we walk to the site. Utilize this on-hands training to learn more about how to identify and remove garlic mustard.

Work tools and other supplies will be provided.

For more information visit the event page or contact
Carrie Taylor at 763-434-2030 ext. 190 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  521 Hits

Lunch with a Scientist Series

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
May 9th from 11:30 – 1:00

Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist with the Anoka Conservation District, will discuss how to identify and control invasive species. 
Come in person or join online. In-person attendees will also complete a short hike at the Cedar Creek Science Reserve.

For more information visit the event page or contact Carrie Taylor at 763-434-2030 ext. 190 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  429 Hits
Tags:

Common Landscaping Plants Added to MN Noxious Weed List

Earlier this year, the MN Dept of Agriculture (MDA) added Amur Silvergrass (Miscanthus sacchariflorus) and Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) to the Restricted category of the state noxious weed list. It is unlawful to sell or propagate Restricted plant species and landowners are encouraged to manage their spread.

Amur silvergrass has been used as an ornamental plant in the US for over a century. It forms dense colonies that can aggressively outcompete native species. Consider replacing this species in your landscaping with showy native grasses such as little bluestem (Schizacharium scoparium), yellow prairie grass (Sorghastrum nutans), or prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis).

Winged burning bush was also introduced to the US as an ornamental shrub. While its dense thickets made it a popular hedgerow plant, they also enable it to crowd out native vegetation when allowed to spread into natural areas. Winged burning bush produces many seeds which are distributed by wildlife, allowing it to easily spread over long distances. Consider replacing this species with native shrubs such as serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), and button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

Learn more about identification and management of these invasive species with these MDA resources on Amur Silvergrass and Winged Burning Bush

ACD Contact: Carrie Taylor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763.434.2030 x190

  492 Hits

Identifying Wetland Restoration Opportunities in Anoka County

Anoka County is rich in wetlands that provide countless benefits to the county's ecological and water resources. Wetlands capture and filter floodwater and runoff, provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species, and help recharge the groundwater supply. Anoka County has lost approximately half of its original wetlands since European settlement. Historically wetlands have been drained and filled to create more useable land for agriculture and rural development. Many regulations exist to protect wetlands today, but a history of impacts combined with present-day challenges such as invasive vegetation, increasing demands for housing and suburban development, and altered hydrology threaten what remains.

For these reasons, the Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has increased efforts to identify wetland protection and restoration opportunities. An inventory of restorable wetlands was recently completed for two priority watersheds in the county including the Ford Brook watershed and the Rum River direct drainage watershed. Altogether, approximately 70 potential wetland restoration sites were identified across both private and public lands. In the coming months, ACD will conduct outreach and explore these possible opportunities in more depth, with the goal of restoring hydrology and native vegetation at one or more sites in 2024.

ACD has enhanced wetland habitat via vegetation management for several years, but hydrologic restorations are a relatively new endeavor which require careful planning, holistic approaches, and multi-agency collaboration. In 2022, five acres' worth of wetlands on public land were successfully restored by plugging drainage ditches which restored previous hydrology conditions and managed current vegetation such as the invasive reed canary grass to improve habitat with a diversity of native species.

For more information contact Brenna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Candidate wetland restoration sites (shown in red) for the Ford Brook watershed in Northwestern Anoka County.
A wetland restoration completed at Cedar Creek Conservation area in 2022 included reed canary grass removal (above) to improve the wetlands’ native vegetation communities.
The Cedar Creek wetland restoration also included ditch plugs (above) to improve the wetlands’ water-holding capacity.
  571 Hits

Smart Salter

Salt (chloride) is toxic to freshwater plants and animals, threatens our Minnesota fishing economy and heritage, and causes expensive damage to bridges and other infrastructure. To date, 54 lakes and streams in Minnesota are impaired by chloride and nearly 40% of shallow monitoring wells in the Twin Cities area have chloride concentrations that exceed the water quality standard. 

This interactive workshop is specifically designed for local decision-makers such as city councilmembers and county commissioners and will provide action steps and recommended policy changes to reduce salt pollution in our communities without impacting public safety. Co-hosted by the Lower St. Croix Watershed Partnership with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Lake Superior Coastal Program, and We are Water Minnesota. Funding comes from the Clean Water Fund and Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Register here: MPCA Smart Salting for Community Leaders Workshop Tickets, Thu, Mar 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite
The learning environment for this class is an interactive online format. Instructors will teach class online in real-time. Participants will interact with instructors and other participants through live chats, polls, and class discussion using the WebEx platform. We require attendees to actively participate in the online interactive class in addition to completing a survey after attending.
Can't attend? Check out this Low Salt – No Salt Toolkit for local government.

  463 Hits

Enhancing Street Sweeping to Improve Water Quality

Street sweeping doesn't just improve the appearance and function of your neighborhood's roads; it's also one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants entering our lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Common materials such as leaves, yard waste, sand, road salt, vehicle fluids, litter, and other debris accumulate in street gutters and have nowhere to go other than down the storm drain and, eventually into local waterways – flushed in by water during snowmelt and storm events.

Many cities complete street sweeping twice per year: once in the spring to remove solids from winter road treatment, and again in the fall to remove fallen leaves. However, gaps in sweeping schedules give these pollutants time to re-accumulate and flush into storm drains (and thus downstream waterbodies) before they can be removed. Increasing the frequency of street sweeping can greatly reduce pollutant loads in stormwater, which is why the Anoka Conservation District has added enhanced street sweeping considerations to its "water quality toolbox".

Enhanced street sweeping analyses combine area-specific information such as tree canopy cover and storm sewer networks with research-based pollutant recovery estimates to improve recommendations for the timing, frequency, and location of street sweeping. This approach has recently been applied in the direct drainage watersheds for Martin and Linwood lakes. 

Find more information about the benefits of street sweeping here: MN Stormwater Manual: Street Sweeping 

ACD Contact: Breanna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  520 Hits

“Our River Connection” Animated Video: Understanding Rivers and the Ways We Impact Them

Rivers are essential resources and provide an immeasurable list of services that are critical for many ways of life throughout the world. Minnesota is home to many important river systems, such as the Mississippi River, that provide services which help sustain life and provide resources to help human economies thrive.

Minnesota's rivers endured decades of intensive impacts as the state industrialized, commonly used as a dumping grounds for untreated waste and modified extensively to make navigation easier. Our treatment of rivers has improved significantly in the years since, but human activity continues to impact them today. River systems are extremely complex in nature and many of the negative impacts caused by human activity go unrecognized or are misunderstood. Fortunately, there are many ways we can minimize our impacts and help restore our rivers to good health.

The Anoka Conservation District has proudly released a new animated video to help understand how rivers function and the role humans play in keeping them healthy. "Our River Connection" video brings you on a journey through a breadth of river topics, such as river formation, natural river behavior, current and historical human impacts, and actions we can take to protect them today. This video is suitable for a wide range of audiences, with narrative and visuals that are approachable and easy to digest. When you're done watching the video, you can take the companion quiz or explore the links in the video description to learn more. 

ACD Contact: Breanna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  571 Hits

Creating and Enhancing Habitat in Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Zones and Conservation Corridors

I have fond memories of chasing fireflies in the neighborhood's empty lot and watching them glow in jars. It was a joy to see their light show. After living in the west for 15 years, I was excited to move back to the Midwest to be closer to family AND to see those fireflies once again with my kids. Sadly, we rarely see them these days.

There has been a significant decline in pollinators worldwide due to pesticides and habitat loss. Pollinators including; fireflies, bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and native flies, play a key role in pollinating many commercial crops and are an essential part of natural environments. The loss of these species is getting noticed and many are trying to help.

Fortunately, there are technical and financial resources available to help enhance pollinator habitat. The MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) received funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, to create cost-share programs for pollinator-friendly native plantings and habitats. The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) is a recipient of BWSR's Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Neighborhood grants. ACD collaborated with local Watershed Districts, Cities, church groups, libraries, volunteers and residents to complete 53 pollinator plantings. Those plantings together, create habitat corridors within Anoka County along the Mississippi and Rum River, Coon Creek and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes. ACD also received funding from BWSR's Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot Program and are collaborating with Anoka Parks and Cities to convert turf areas to native plantings and to enhance native prairies. These programs create opportunities for collaboration, education, engagement with residents and most importantly, improve pollinator habitat. 

This map shows High Potential (red) and Dispersal (yellow) zones for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. Green areas on the map are Metro Conservation Corridors and Public Lands. The yellow dots are sites funded by the Lawns to Legume program and the orange dots are sites funded by the Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot program. ACD strives to work with Partners including residents to increase biodiversity and enhance habitat in Anoka County.

There are still cost share opportunities to create pollinator habitat in your yard. Applications for INDIVIDUAL Lawns to Legumes grants with Metro Blooms will be accepted through January 18, 2023.Apply online at Blue Thumb – Planting for Clean Water's website.
My family has only seen fireflies in our yard once, but we've enjoyed frequent visits from all sorts of other pollinators including monarchs and bumble bees in our native plantings. Birds are also fun to watch on tree and shrub berries and wildflower seeds.
Learn more about what you can do to help:
Xerces Society
BWSR Lawns to Legumes
MN Department of Agriculture- Pollinators
MN Department of Natural Resources - Pollinators
Audubon Native Plants Database

ACD Contact: Carrie Taylor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  542 Hits

Lakeshore Stabilizations Coming to the Sunrise River Chain of Lakes

The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization, are poised to receive a $78,500 State Clean Water Fund Grant. The application scored 4th highest among 47 project applications statewide. The grant will fund shoreline stabilizations including native plant buffers. Target lakes are Martin, Linwood, and the Coon Lake Basins with work expected to begin in 2023 and 2024. 

ACD Contact: Jamie Schurbon, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  478 Hits

Rum RIM protects 149 acres and 8,370 feet of shoreline in northern Anoka County

Anoka Conservation District and other SWCDs are working together to prioritize parcels and enroll willing landowners in BWSR's Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve in the Rum River Watershed. The RIM Reserve program compensates landowners who are willing to give up development rights on their land in perpetuity to permanently preserve the natural landscape. The Rum River flows from Lake Mille Lacs to the Mississippi River through diverse landscapes and land uses. Protecting priority lands will benefit water quality and Twin Cities' drinking water supply, as well as improving wildlife habitat and connectivity. 

ACD is grateful to the families in northern Anoka County who just recently enrolled their land in BWSR's RIM program. Those families cherish the natural state of their land and the Rum River. Thanks to them, 149 more acres of land will be protected.

  684 Hits

Anoka-Ramsey Community College provides helping hands for rare plants and rare habitats

ACD staff have been collaborating with Professor Kristen Genet to create hands-on learning opportunities for an Anoka-Ramsey Community College Ecology class. The class learned about rare plants, rare habitats and the invasive species that threaten them, and provided service through their learning. The class got out to plant native grasses and wildflowers to create a dry prairie pollinator garden in a Coon Rapids park. They also conducted rare plant surveys to help guide rare plant rescue planting densities and removed buckthorn that was starting to grow into areas with rare plants. Thanks to Kristen Genet and students for all their contributions!  

  644 Hits

Protecting Pollinators at the ACD Office

Plant species that are "native" to a local area (i.e., grow there naturally) provide necessary food and habitat for pollinators and enhance soil and water quality. Outdoor spaces that are in covered in turf provide very few benefits to pollinators or the environment, so frequent pockets of natural spaces are critical in developed areas. We recently converted part of our office property from an area that was annoying to mow into beneficial pollinator habitat! Here's how we did it:

In early summer, we used "sheet mulching" to kill off the grass and weeds. If you can plan to have a couple of months before planting, this is an easy method to prepare a site without using herbicides. The future garden space was fully covered in cardboard sourced from our local recycling facility and then covered with a couple inches of mulch. This effectively smothered existing weeds.

We selected 11 native wildflower species, 2 native shrub species, and 2 native grass species for the garden that will thrive with the amount of natural sun and water that the spot gets. Adding wildflowers is a no-brainer to provide nectar for pollinators, but adding grasses sometimes gets overlooked in pollinator gardens. Native grasses provide homes for insects to overwinter in and add beautiful texture to a space! There are many great places to order native plants from in Minnesota; we used Minnesota Native Landscapes and Glacial Ridge Growers.

Since our garden is next to a sidewalk, it was lined with river rock to create a cleaner look and contain the mulch. 

In early fall, the plants arrived and were planted. By this time, the cardboard underneath had broken down enough that it was easy to rip gaps in it to dig holes for the plants. Autumn planting gives plants an edge for developing strong roots in their new home and is a great option if you miss the spring planting window. The plants were spaced about 1.5 feet apart to leave them with room to grow into their full-sized forms. The already-present mulch will help hold in water and continue to suppress weeds.

It will be exciting to watch these new plants grow over the coming year to create a beautiful spot that will support some of our essential pollinator species in Anoka County.

You can also follow these steps to convert areas of your property that may not get much traffic or are hard to mow into a space that will benefit everyone! 

  1071 Hits

Spiders: Friend or Foe?

White crab spider with its prey


We have all noticed spiders in our homes or when we are out for a walk. Most of the time, we view them as gross or something to fear. Instead of instantly thinking of spiders as pests that we want to kill or remove from the home, we should try to gain a better understanding of the important role these creatures play within the ecosystem.

Minnesota is home to 519 different species of spiders, including a species of 'jumping spider' that has only been found in Anoka County. 7 of the spider species found in the state are poisonous, but a spider bite resulting in death hasn't been recorded in the United States for decades. Less than 0.5% of spider bites lead to major medical complications.

The main benefit that spiders provide is that they eat a massive amount of insects, consuming on average between 400 and 800 million tons of bugs globally every year. Not only do spiders eat common pests like mosquitos and flies, they also act as a natural insecticide, eating many insects that are known for destroying crops or gardens.

To learn more about why spiders are important, please visit our friends at the Three Rivers Park District: https://www.threeriversparks.org/blog/myths-and-facts-spiders

Black and yellow garden spider
  839 Hits

Filling Ditches and Scraping Weeds

Anoka Conservation District, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the City of Andover are working together to restore natural hydrology and establish native vegetation at Pine Hills North Park in Andover. 

A private ditch was plugged and weeds in the basin were scraped and used to fill in the ditch, preventing drainage of water and recreating the conditions of a wetland. The scraped area will be seeded with a mesic prairie seed mix in the fall.

  1348 Hits

ACD and Partners are Working to Bring Legacy Funds to Enhance Habitat in Anoka County

Anoka Conservation District recently submitted two proposals, HRE07 Rum River Corridor Fish and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement – Phase 2 and HA02 Anoka Sand Plain Habitat Conservation – Phase 8 to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council ML 2023 Request for Funding. The proposed activities will enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitat in Anoka County and collaborate with Partners in the Rum River Corridor and the Anoka Sand Plain Ecoregion.  

HRE07 Rum River Corridor Fish and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement – Phase 2
$3.5M request ($3M for Anoka County) includes:

  • Streambank and in-channel stabilization (2,200 linear feet);
  • In-stream fish habitat with a focus on game fish (1,200 linear feet); and
  • Riparian forest, wetland, and prairie enhancement in the Shoreland Zone (118 acres) including wild rice habitat on tribal lands.

Partners:

  • Anoka, Isanti and Mille Lacs SWCDs
  • Anoka and Isanti Counties
  • Upper and Lower Rum River WMOs
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

HA02 Anoka Sand Plain Habitat Conservation – Phase 8
$8.9M request ($2.15M for ACD) includes:

  • Conservation easements (540 acres)
  • Habitat restoration and enhancement (1,736 acres and 2,200 linear feet of shoreline)
  • Rare plant rescue program

Direct Grant Recipients and Partners:

    • Anoka Conservation District
    • Great River Greening
    • Minnesota Land Trust
    • National Wild Turkey Federation
    • Sherburne County Parks
    • Anoka County Parks
    • City of Anoka
    • MN Landscape Arboretum
    • Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
    • MN DNR Forest Lake WMA
  810 Hits

Anoka CWMA works to control invasive species in Anoka County

BWSR awarded ACD $15,000 for the third phase of the Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area. The Anoka CWMA formed in 2018 and consists of Anoka Conservation District, Anoka Parks, Cities, Watershed Districts, MN Department of Agriculture, and volunteers to coordinate invasive species control efforts in Anoka County. Anoka CWMA activities include mapping, monitoring, outreach, treatment on select populations, and provides some cost share assistance. 

  910 Hits

Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot Program

BWSR awarded ACD $40,000 for the Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot Program. ACD, Anoka County Parks, City of Blaine and City of Fridley identified project sites to create species rich, diverse prairies. There are 12 prairies identified in Anoka County Parks land with low forb diversity within the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee priority area that will be enhanced. Turf to prairie conversion will occur on a total of 4.75 acres at Fridley Commons Park, Blaine Laddie Lake, Coon Rapids Dam, Rice Creek West Regional Trail and Bunker Regional Park. These projects range from 0.25 to 1.5 acres and will be forb-rich.

  817 Hits

Rare Plant Rescue Program Salvaged 200 MN Endangered Rubus stipulatus

The Highway CSAH 14 (Main Street) is slated to expand and build storm ponds in an area with Rubus stipulatus, a MN Endangered rare plant. The Rare Plant Rescue Program, consisting of Anoka SWCD, Critical Connections Ecological Services, and MN Landscape Arboretum, coordinated with the MN DNR and Anoka Highway Department to salvage the plants prior to construction. As soon as development permits were complete and signed, the Rescue Program swiftly accessed the highway expansion site to dig out plants that were just emerging. Plants were taken to Bunker Hills Regional Park where Anoka Parks staff and Volunteers transplanted 200 plants into plots. Cuttings of Rubus stipulatus were also taken, and will be propagated at the MN Landscape Arboretum and planted in the fall. Rescue transplants will be monitored to assess survivorship and recruitment. This is all made possible with collaboration, Volunteers, and Anoka Sand Plain Partnership Outdoor Heritage Funds.

To learn more about this program and how to get involved, see the information flyer here: https://tinyurl.com/mnrp-flyer

Sign up on the Rare Plant Rescue Network form

  1300 Hits

Biomonitoring with Area High Schools

Each spring and fall, ACD staff teaches area high school students about collecting macroinvertebrates to track water quality in Anoka County streams. This lesson is educational and fun for students, while providing ACD with data to track water quality over time through the streams' biota. Biological organisms that can be used to track the health of the environment they live in are called biological indicators (or bioindicators for short).

Macroinvertebrates, the larval forms of many common insects, are a great biological indicator for stream health in particular. They also live in lakes and wetlands. Many people don't realize that common insects like dragonflies, mayflies, black flies, and many others spend the majority of their lives as larval forms in the water. These larvae have varying tolerance levels to pollution, meaning some need very clean water to survive, while others can survive in either clean or polluted water. By tracking the populations of these organisms over time, we can gauge changes in water quality by assessing population shifts and known tolerance levels. This provides a valuable supplemental dataset to water quality samples collected periodically. Because these organisms spend months to years in the water, they give a more comprehensive long term look at water quality than water samples collected at random times can alone. 

Anoka High School students sorting through Rum River samples for macroinvertebrates, May 2022

For the past 24 years, ACD has partnered with numerous schools and groups in Anoka County to collect macroinvertebrates. We currently partner with the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations, the St. Francis American Legion, and the Rice Creek Watershed District to fund this monitoring with classes from four schools. Anoka High School and St. Francis High School classes monitor the Rum River near their schools, Totino-Grace High School classes monitor Rice Creek in Fridley, and the Forest Lake Area Learning Center monitors Clearwater Creek in Centerville. We also plan to take a new class from Blaine High School out in the fall of 2022 to monitor Coon Creek in Coon Rapids.

Over time, this program has taught thousands of Anoka County students about stream water quality, biological indicators, and work in the environmental sciences, all while getting them out of the classroom and into a stream. 

  878 Hits

Tree and Shrub Pick Up!!

Pre-ordered trees & shrubs will be ready for pick up on April 30th, staggered by last name. 

Map of pick up location

DATE AND TIME: Saturday, April 30. Staggered pick up by first letter of Last Name:

          A-D: 9-9:30am                                P-S: 11:15-11:45am

          E-J: 9:45-10:15am                         T-Z: 12-12:30pm

          K-O: 10:30-11am 

PICK UP LOCATION: ACD Office- 1318 McKay Drive NE Ham Lake LOWER LOT

  • We strongly encourage you to come during your timeslot
  • Drive-thru pick up to comply with social distancing
  • Make space ahead of time so ACD staff can put your order in your vehicle
  • Refer to www.AnokaSWCD.org for up-to-date information
  • Ask a neighbor or friend to pick up if you can't make it
  • Parking lot is too small, so no large trailers!!

Storing your seedlings until they can be planted:

  • Store trees and shrubs in a cool, dark location (garage or shed)
  • Your trees and shrubs should be fine stored for up to 3 weeks
  • Keep roots moist but don't fill bag with water or put roots in a bucket of water
  • Roots have been dipped in root gel and bagged to keep them moist

Questions?

1st, try: www.AnokaSWCD.org

2nd, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  881 Hits

Anoka Conservation District received BWSR’s Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Grant

Anoka CD, in partnership with Rice Creek Watershed District, Coon Creek Watershed District, City of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Blaine and Lino Lakes, received BWSR grant funds to create a pollinator corridor in the North Metro. These cost share funds are available to local residents and public spaces (e.g. places of worship and libraries) who are interested in creating pollinator habitat. Eligible projects include native pocket plantings, pollinator beneficial trees and shrubs, pollinator lawns and pollinator meadows to benefit the rusty patched bumblebee and other at-risk species.

Contact Carrie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763-434-2030 x 190 to learn more about the North Metro Pollinator Corridor cost share program. 

  1020 Hits

New Name, Same Pest

Lymantria Dispar is an invasive moth formerly known by the common name Gypsy Moth. Last year, the Entomological Society of America officially changed the common name for this invasive species to the Spongy Moth. Romani people, Europe's largest ethnic group, generally consider the common name "Gypsy Moth" to contain a racial slur. The Entomological Society of America states that "while the use of an ethnic slur is enough reason to stop using a common name, the former common name was doubly inappropriate in that it linked a group of people who have been treated as pests and the targets of genocide with an invasive pest insect that remains targeted for population control and eradication, all of which combined to have dehumanizing effects for Romani people."  

The new common name for Lymantria Dispar, the spongy moth, refers to the insect's light brown, fuzzy egg masses. This new name also aligns better with other countries common name for this invasive species. This moth is known for defoliating deciduous forests while in their caterpillar form. This repeated defoliation causes stress and can leave trees vulnerable to other diseases and pests. Spongy moths were introduced to the United States from Europe in the nineteenth century. They have spread from their initial location in Massachusetts westward, in both the United States and Canada. 

Since 2004, Minnesota has been a member of the U.S. Forest Service's Slow the Spread (STS) program. Cook and Lake Counties are the only places with reproducing spongy moths in Minnesota. Parts of Eastern Minnesota are within the transition zone, and most of the state is still listed as an uninfested zone. Currently, Anoka County is still within the uninfested zone, but the spread of the spongy moth is occurring at a rate of 3 miles per year.

  957 Hits

Plant this not that

Spring is around the corner and that means it is time to think about what to plant. Ornamental plants are not native to MN and therefor do not provide as quality of a food source to pollinators or wildlife. Some ornamentals have started to spread to natural areas where they can cause ecological harm. Amur maple, Norway maple and Winged burning bush have been common landscaping plants but their spread into natural areas has been detected. That invasive behavior landed them on the MN Noxious Weed List as Specially Regulated Plants. There are many native plants to choose from that are suitable for landscaping. See the Woody Invasives of the Great Lakes Collaborative website's Landscape Alternatives for native plant ideas. Blue Thumbs Plant Finder is a great tool to determine the best native plants for your site conditions. Many MN natives are available at local plant nurseries.

Avoid

Choose Instead

Amur Maple

Mountain maple, pagoda dogwood, high bush cranberry, fireberry hawthorn

Norway Maple

Red maple, sugar maple, hackberry, basswood

Winged Burning Bush

Leatherwood, pagoda dogwood, nannyberry, wolfberry

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How Fast Will My Tree Grow?

By far the most frequently asked question as part of our annual tree sale is "how fast will this tree grow?" Simple enough, yet so complicated.

It would be great if we could say "one to two feet per year." That's what customers want to hear. Five feet per year is even better. The truth is more nuanced. A 'slow growing' tree planted in just the right place can easily outgrow a 'fast growing' tree that is planted in the wrong place. Trees can be finicky about how sunny they like it, how wet they want it, how nutrient rich they need it, how cold they can tolerate, or how salty they will bear.

For example, spruce trees like sunny spots that aren't too wet. Never a very fast growing tree to begin with, if put in the wrong place, they can grow painfully slow. In the photos,15 years ago four 3-foot tall potted Colorado Blue Spruce trees were planted in a row about 25 feet apart. The closest tree in the photo is about 25 feet tall and fairly full. The next is 15 feet tall and not looking too bad. The third is a scraggly 12 feet tall. The fourth is clinging to life and tops out at around 9 feet tall.

All four trees have enough sunlight so that isn't the problem. The best grower is planted in ground that is sandier and about 2 feet higher in elevation than the saddest of the bunch, which is planted in a peaty soil that was once a wetland. From the best to the worst grower, they are planted in progressively wetter areas. The fastest grew 18 inches per year while the slowest grew only 4 inches per year.

This is why when asked "how fast will my tree grow?" we hesitate and then follow with "it depends…" This is also why we include all the information you need to select the right tree for your property as part of our sale. Choose well and your trees will flourish, and if you need a little help, give us a call. 

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LAKE GEORGE SHORELINE STABILIZATION PROJECTS IN 2022

Seven lakeshore stabilization project designs are underway for properties on Lake George. ACD staff conducted targeted mailings based on a previously completed erosion inventory and site visits were then conducted at properties with interested landowners. Potential project sites were prioritized by water quality improvement potential, and with the funding available, seven sites were chosen to be developed. Construction of these projects is anticipated for summer, 2022.

Lakeshore stabilization techniques include coir logs, native vegetation buffers, minor regrading of ice heaves, and minimal riprap. The picture to the right shows an eroding shoreline with a short bank height that can be stabilized using a coir log and native vegetation. Stabilization of the lakeshores will reduce pollutant loading to Lake George and thereby provide water quality benefits. The native plant buffer areas will also provide habitat benefits.

Funding is provided by a Rum River Watershed Based Implementation Funding grant and landowner contributions. Watch for additional updates as the projects progress through final design and construction. 

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Understanding the Minnesota Noxious Weed List

Minnesota's Noxious Weed Law is the policy of the legislature that residents of the state be protected from the injurious effects that noxious weeds have on public health, environment, public roads, crops, livestock, and other property. A noxious weed is a regulated plant species that has been designated as one of the four categories; Prohibited Eradicate, Prohibited Control, Restricted, and Specially Regulated.

The Prohibited Eradicate category include species that are highly damaging with limited distribution. These species are listed with the goal of eradication. Some examples found in Minnesota include Black Swallow-wort, Oriental Bittersweet, and the Tree of Heaven.

The Prohibited Control category include species that are highly damaging and widely distributed. The goal for species in this category is to prevent spreading. Examples in Minnesota include Wild Parsnip, Common Tansy, and Japanese Knotweed.

The Restricted Category include species that are highly damaging with an extensive distribution that limits the ability to control populations. The goal for these species is to prevent new plantings. Examples in Minnesota include Common Buckthorn, Non-Native Honeysuckle, and Garlic Mustard.

Specially Regulated plants may be native, non-native, or demonstrated value. The goal for this category of plants is to craft regulations that prevent issues. Examples in Minnesota include Poison Ivy, Amur Maple, and Winged Burning Bush.

Species on this list and new potential treats are reviewed by the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of members that represent conservation, business, tribes, and government interests. A thorough risk assessment is completed for a species before a listing recommendation is made by the committee. You can report a potential population of a species on the Minnesota Noxious Weed List by taking a picture of both the leaves and flowers, taking note of the location, and sending it to the Arrest the Pest email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by filing out the online reporting form on the website https://mdaonbase.mda.state.mn.us/AppNetUF/UnityForm.aspx?key=UFKey.

Below is a list of species to keep a look out for. Some of these species are already listed as Prohibited Eradicate in Minnesota and have very limited distribution. Looking for these species can prevent new populations from invading the state. Other species on the list have not yet been found in Minnesota, but have caused substantial damage in other parts of the country. Early detection and eradication is crucial in protecting Minnesota against invasive species. 

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It’s time to start native seeds for your pollinator garden!

There is so much magic and joy in starting wildflowers from seeds. This is a good time to start that process for many native plants so that they are ready in the spring. Many native plants' seed stays dormant until there are good conditions in the wild. As a gardener, you can create these conditions to break dormancy for seed germination. Many native seeds need cold moist stratification to germinate. This can be done outdoors if seed is planted in the fall and overwintered. If you want to start them indoors in containers then pre-treatment stratification is needed. Stratify by placing seeds in a damp paper towel, coffee filter, or sand and into a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator (33-40 °F). Native plant's seeds range from needing 10 to 120 days of cold stratification. Once seeds have been stratified for the number of recommended days, plant seeds in a soil medium. Keep soil moist until seeds sprout and send up their first leaves. Water as needed and allow the soil to begin to dry out between watering. The magic continues as plants continue to grow!

Learn more about individual native plant seed pre-treatment and germination strategies in the Prairie Moon Nursery 2022 Cultural Guide and Germination Guide and the Tallgrass Prairie Center's Native Seed Production Manual.

If you aren't ready to start a new seed starting hobby, this is also a good time to start designing and planning a pollinator garden. Many local plant vendors have their plant catalogues ready for you to view. Be sure that plants you purchase are free of neonicotinoids, which are very toxic to pollinators.

See BWSR's Lawns to Legumes page for garden design templates and list of local native plant vendors. 

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Think Spring!!

Spring is just around the corner so get your tree order in today. The District offers a wide variety of native stock, including black cherry trees, mixed oak trees, maple trees, and pine trees. The trees and shrubs are sold as bare root seedlings or transplants, ranging from 8" to 24" in height. They may be purchased in bundles of ten for $19.00, or twenty-five for $38, not including tax. Native prairie seed and tree aides are also available. You do not need to be an Anoka County Resident to order. The pick-up is at the ACD Office at the end of April, 1318 McKay Drive NE, Ham Lake, MN 55304.  

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2021 ACD TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SUMMARY

ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2021 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.

Assistance begins with a site consultation. Consultations typically include a conversation with the landowner, desktop review of the site using GIS mapping software and available data sets, and a site visit to discuss options. If the landowner is interested in pursuing a project, ACD can provide design and installation oversight services. Maintenance guidance is also provided for previously installed projects.

Additional information about active projects and those previously completed is available on ACD's project tracking map.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Shortlist/index.html?appid=d1e76c3d808743c1b149bde24c990894 

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Assistance for Shoreline Erosion

ACD has a number of grant opportunities available for addressing shoreline erosion along both streams and lakes in Anoka County. If you have noticed your lakeshore migrating back on you over time, or perhaps once had a low walkable area along your river frontage that is now gone leaving only a steep drop-off, ACD may be able to help you design and even fund a project to protect your property.

The first step is a site visit to your property by ACD staff. Now is a great time to reach out to ACD to plan a site visit in the spring. We will assess your erosion problems, give you advice on how to address them, and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Shoreline restoration does far more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on, and also enhances habitat for all of the wildlife that utilizes that resource! 

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Start Thinking Spring Conservation!

Current subzero temperatures can make warmer months seem far away, but winter is a great time to begin planning for spring and summer conservation projects at your home. Whether you want to create an oasis for pollinators and other native wildlife or install features that improve local water quality, there are many great informational resources to help you get started.

Create a native vegetation planting plan and control invasive species

Establishing areas of diverse native vegetation and managing invasive plant species produces multiple environmental benefits, including the provision of food and habitat resources for native wildlife and the improvement of local soil and water health, particularly for areas adjacent to rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Sourcing native plants and landscaping services from local experts is the best way to ensure your efforts maximize ecological benefits in your area. 

 Address lawn care needs sustainably

The ways in which we mow, irrigate, and chemically treat our yards can lead to unintended impacts in nearby aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This year, consider developing a lawn care regime that strategically targets nutrient and pesticide needs and reduces the need for irrigation.

Participate in community surveys and attend educational events

Winter is a great time to explore environmental topics that pique your interest and inspire you to become involved in backyard conservation efforts. Many of Minnesota's environmental and conservation organizations provide free or low-cost educational opportunities such as webinars and workshops. You can also become involved in natural resource surveys such as those for wildlife, weather, and water quality, which greatly improve our understanding of conservation needs across the state. 

Financial and Technical Assistance

Because environmental benefits produced through conservation practices typically extend beyond the bounds of your property, conservation projects such as lakeshore restorations, riverbank stabilizations, and best management practices for urban or agricultural stormwater runoff may qualify for financial or technical assistance. Seeking out and applying for these opportunities early will help you get a strong head start on spring and summer projects.

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Buckthorn Removal at Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area

Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area consists of three Natural Plant Community types. This includes an upland consisting of Red Oak, Sugar Maple, and Basswood forest. The majority of the WMA is made up of two wetland types; this includes willow dogwood shrub swamp and black ash, yellow birch, red maple, basswood swamp.

Anoka Conservation District started buckthorn management at Carl E. Bonnell this winter. This involves removing large buckthorn with a chainsaw and treating smaller buckthorn with a basal bark treatment technique. Both common and glossy buckthorn have been found in the WMA.

Both glossy and common buckthorn are invasive species and are on the Minnesota Restricted Noxious Weed list. Removing and treating buckthorn is important to protect ecosystems. Buckthorn grows thickly and outcompetes native plants for light and nutrients once established. 

  1076 Hits
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2022 ACD TREE SALE

The Anoka Conservation is currently taking tree orders for the district's annual sale taking place at the end of April, 2022. Trees and shrubs are sold as bare root seedlings or transplants and can range from 8" to 24" in height. Species may be purchased in bundles of ten for $19.00, or twenty-five for $38 (tax not included). Native prairie seed and tree aides are also available. Order today as supply is running out! You do not need to be an Anoka County resident to order. Call 763-434-2030 x100 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get more information.

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RICE CREEK BANK STABILIZATION PROJECT IN THE CITY OF FRIDLEY

The Brua property located on Rice Creek in Fridley had approximately 85 linear feet of streambank with active erosion. Sediment and nutrients from the eroding bank directly entered Rice Creek. While the erosion severity was classified as moderate, the landowners observed the bank receding over the last several years, particularly during periods of extended high water. By being proactive and addressing the erosion at an early stage, they can minimize the overall cost of the project as well as the sediment and nutrient loading to Rice Creek.

The stabilization solution used a minimal amount of riprap and native plantings to stabilize the eroding face. The shady conditions of the site, frequent water level fluctuation, and flowing water required a hard armoring solution along the bottom portions of the slope. Native species well adapted to frequent water level fluctuations and shady conditions were planted above the riprap to soften its appearance and provide a vegetated buffer with habitat value (see picture to right).

Stabilization of the shoreline will provide reductions in the total suspended solids (2,838 pounds per year reduction) and total phosphorus (1.21 pounds per year reduction) reaching Rice Creek. In addition to the water quality benefits to Rice Creek, downstream waterbodies (Locke Lake and the Mississippi River) will also benefit.

The project was funded through a combination of the Rice Creek Watershed District's Water Quality Grant Program and the landowner. For more information please contact Mitch Haustein, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763-434-2030 x150

Stabilized bank on Rice Creek includes riprap at the bottom of the slope and native seed, shrub stakes, and erosion control blanket at the top of the slope.
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Melanie Kern, an Outstanding Conservationist in Anoka County, passed away October 21st but left behind a Legacy

Melanie grew up playing outside and formed a love and respect for nature. She told me a story of when she was a little girl. She was walking around her grandparent's property and heard a shrill bark that stopped her in her tracks. She then took another step and there was another bark. Then she noticed a mamma raccoon with babies and understood that the raccoon was politely giving her a warning. She calmly turned around and went another way. She had many other stories of being outdoors with her family. I suppose those times and stories are what planted the seeds for Melanie's love and respect for nature.

Later in life, Melanie moved to Nowthen in northern Anoka County into a beautiful home surrounded by mature trees. When the cornfield south of that property went up for sale, she purchased it. She tells the story that she crazily spent her retirement savings on a cornfield. However, she had a vision and insight to create habitat for all wild creatures and open land to capture and store water. In 2003, Anoka Conservation District staff helped Melanie implement that vision by establishing a Conservation Easement and turning the cornfield into a diverse natural landscape with wetland, prairie, savanna, and woodland habitats with funds from USDA and MN DNR conservation programs. Melanie founded the Kern Heritage Center in 2012 so that they Board of Trustees could preserve the space. The property is now home to a diversity of native plants, bumblebees, butterflies, birds and many more creatures… thanks to Melanie Kern.

Anoka Conservation District is grateful for Melanie's land ethic and our relationship we had with her over the years. Melanie, you will be missed!

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If you see green, it might be buckthorn. Fall and winter are a great time for buckthorn treatment.

Late fall is a great time to assess your property for woody invasive species. The three most common woody invasive species that are found in Anoka County are Common Buckthorn, Glossy Buckthorn, and non-native Bush Honeysuckle. These three species tend to hold on to their leaves long after our native trees and shrubs. Since the leaves on these invasive species also tend to stay green instead of change color like our native species, they stick out like a sore thumb this time of year. These species can easily out compete native woodland species, deteriorating our woodlands and wetlands.

Common Buckthorn:

Common Buckthorn tend to look like a large shrub or small tree, reaching approximately 20 feet when fully grown. The most distinct characteristic of Common Buckthorn is the twig endings often contain small, sharp, stout thorns. When Common buckthorn is cut down the heartwood also have a distinctive orange color. This tree can be easily confused with our native plums and cherries.

Glossy Buckthorn:

Glossy Buckthorn has a similar structure as Common, they tend to grow like a large shrub or small tree, reaching approximately 20 feet. Glossy Buckthorn can be found in forests, but tend to favor wetlands and wetland edges. Glossy Buckthorn does not contain any thorns but also has a yellowish orange heartwood when cut. The look-alikes for Glossy Buckthorn include some native dogwoods and alder.

Non-native Bush Honeysuckle:

Non-native Bush Honeysuckle is a shrub that typically grows 8 to 12 feet high. The older Honeysuckle often have a shaggy tan bark and stems that are often hollow. The leaves on the Honeysuckle are opposite, simple, oval, and untoothed. The shrub produces pink and white flowers in the spring.

Find more information on common and glossy buckthorn ID and treatment methods on the Anoka CWMA website.

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Update - Riverbank Stabilization Project in Mississippi River Community Park, Anoka

The riverbank stabilization project in Mississippi River Community Park is one step closer to completion. Native trees (container size) have been planted along the slope above the riprap. Upland species (e.g. Bur Oak) were planted higher on the slope and floodplain species (e.g. Swamp White Oak) were planted lower on the slope.

Remaining project elements include the planting of dormant live stakes near the top of the riprap in a zone that will see inundation during high water conditions, and the planting of bare root shrubs and trees along the slope above the riprap. Similar to the container size trees, both upland and floodplain bare root species will be planted when they become available. Roots associated with the vegetation will stabilize the bank above the riprap.

Tree clearing, bank reshaping, riprap installation, seeding, and erosion control blanket installation were all previously completed. The project stabilized approximately 1,500 linear feet of severely eroding riverbank.

The project is funded by a Clean Water Fund grant, a Watershed Based Funding grant, and match from the City of Anoka.
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Christmas Tree Care and Fun Facts

Ever since I was a young girl, my family has had a 'real' tree. Our trees were cut from our farm and some were 'Charlie Brown' trees but I have great memories of going out into the woods.

With my own family, we have a tradition of going to our local Christmas tree farm. It's definitely a memory-making experience and my girls always enjoy marching down the rows of firs, spruce, and eventually a white pine, which also happens to be my favorite conifer. I even manage to teach the girls a thing or two about how to identify the different species.

Why buy a real tree vs. a manufactured one?

  • An acre of Christmas trees can remove 8,000 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Are biodegradable and recyclable (into mulch).
  • Provide more than a holiday decoration:
    • Habitat and shelter for birds and small animals.
    • Shade and cool the soil.
    • Help prevent erosion.
    • Provide year-round beauty in our Minnesota landscape.
    • Buying locally gives us a fresh tree and supports local businesses. Here's a list of local tree farms from the MN Christmas Tree Association: https://mncta.com/choose-cut if you don't have a favorite already.


Christmas Tree Care

Make a fresh cut. Before you bring the tree into your home and place it in a stand, re-cut the trunk at least one inch from the bottom just before putting it in the stand. Even if you just cut it, this re-opens the tree stem so it can drink water. Christmas trees are very thirsty! It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.

Choose a spot away from heat sources. Heat sources like heat registers, space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, televisions, computer monitors, etc. speed up evaporation and moisture loss of the tree.

Water immediately. After making the fresh cut, place the tree in a large capacity stand with warm water. The stand you use should hold at least one gallon of fresh water.

Don't add anything to the water! Research has shown that plain tap water is the best. Some commercial additives and home concoctions can actually decrease a tree's moisture retention and increase needle loss.

Check the water level daily. Do not allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut or the stem will reseal and be unable to drink.

What can I do with my tree after the holiday season?

In Anoka County, Christmas trees can be dropped off for free once they've been cleaned of all tinsel, ornaments, lights, etc. Check out this link for more information. https://www.anokacounty.us/359/Compost-Sites

These trees are chipped and recycled into mulch. Mulch moderates soil temperatures, suppresses weeds and helps hold soil moisture.

After removing indoor decorations, you can also set your tree in its stand outside and decorate it for our winter birds. (No need to water it). The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust recommends a variety of homemade treats such as suet cakes, branches of berries, popcorn, pinecones smeared with peanut butter, and other treats. We simply set ours out by our bird feeders and the birds love the extra cover from wind, cold and predators. In early spring, we bring it to our local compost site.

Will we ever run out of trees?

The National Christmas Tree Association reports that for every tree that is cut, 2 to 3 trees are planted the following spring. So the more trees sold, the more that are planted. And the more trees planted, the more carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, releasing even more oxygen. This helps reduce our carbon footprint.

This information was adapted from MN Extension https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/christmas-tree-care-and-fun-facts 


More information can be found here: https://www.treetriage.com/tree-removal/christmas-trees/

  1180 Hits

Go Hunting!

Fall hunting season is upon us in Minnesota. Hunting is one of the best ways to sustainably enjoy our State's amazing natural resources. Opportunities exist to harvest game animals ranging from squirrels to birds like grouse, pheasant, turkey, and waterfowl to large ungulates like deer and elk, and even black bear. Minnesota has a rich hunting tradition and some of the most ample public land hunting opportunities in the country! It is easier than ever to learn to hunt with the advent of instructional webinars and social media.

The Minnesota DNR has all of the information and resources you need to get started. You can find season dates, license information, and land access opportunities for all kinds of hunting on their web pages. Social media groups exist for all kinds of hunting around Minnesota, and newcomers can learn from seasoned veterans, some of whom may just be willing to show you the ropes.

If you are interested taking up a new outdoor hobby, creating memories that last a lifetime, and harvesting sustainable, healthful meat, hunting may just be the pastime you've been looking for!

Minnesota hunting fun facts:

  1. Minnesota ranks in the top 10 in the nation for number of resident hunters with over 500,000 licensed hunters annually.
  2. According to the USFWS, Minnesota ranks 5th in ducks harvested and 2nd in geese harvested in the US over the past 10 years.
  3. Minnesota is frequently the #1 state in the US for annual ruffed grouse harvest.
  4. Less than 50 years ago, 29 wild turkeys were reintroduced into MN. Now, the population has grown to over 70,000 birds with turkeys occurring across much of the state.
  5. Minnesota has 23 species of ducks and geese.

Photo below is ACD staffer, Jared Wagner, with his niece.

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Collaborations are Critical to controlling Invasive Phragmites australis throughout Minnesota

Non-native Phragmites is a highly invasive plant that can invade wetlands and shorelines, outcompete native vegetation, and degrade wildlife habitat. Fortunately, most of the infestations in Minnesota are small and there is hope that the invasive grass can be controlled.

Coon Creek Watershed District and ACD staff first detected non-native Phragmites in Anoka County in 2018 along the Ham Lake shoreline. The 2,500 square foot stand was herbicide treated in fall 2018 and mowed in January 2019. No Phragmites was found at the Ham Lake site in 2019 and 2020. One sprout of Phragmites was found in 2021 and dug up.

Additional non-native Phragmites infestations have been found and verified by UMN in Anoka County. The treatment success at Ham Lake inspired staff to continue additional efforts to control non-native Phragmites. In 2019, the Anoka County AIS Prevention grant paid for treatment of 14 additional Phragmites sites that were detected in the 2019 growing season.

The MN Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed grant provided funds for the Metro Counties to collaborate and treat over 80 sites in 2020 and 2021. The University of MN, MN DNR, and MN DOT are also tracking and treating additional sites throughout the state. Sites will continue to be monitored to determine treatment needs.

Photo below shows a stand of Phragmites at a site in Anoka County being monitored in 2020. Follow up treatment occurred in September 2021.

Find more information and distribution maps can be found at the links below:

https://www.eddmaps.org/distribution/viewmap.cfm?sub=59038

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/aquaticplants/phragmites/index.html

https://maisrc.umn.edu/phragmites

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ACD staff spotted a rusty patched bumble bee at the Blaine Preserve SNA!

Bombus affinis, commonly known as rusty patched bumble bees were once common throughout the east and upper Midwest but its population has recently had a drastic decline. The USFWS listed the rusty patched bumble bee as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Rusty-patched bumble bee worker diagnostic traits:

  • Thorax – black hairs in the shape of a thumb tack
  • 1st abdominal segment – yellow
  • 2nd abdominal segment - Rust colored patch on the middle and front half and yellow on the rear half
  • Remaining abdominal segments – black

Find out how to create habitat for the rusty-patched bumble bee and other pollinators on USFWS, Xerces Society and BWSR websites.

Apply today for an Individual Support Grant by visiting Blue Thumb's website. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2022.

View Verifiable Observations of Bombus affinis on INaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/121519-Bombus-affinis

USFWS Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Map:

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Tree and Shrub Pruning Basics

Trim up the sides and take a little off the top. I'm going for a well-kempt look without being obvious about it.

No! Not me, my trees.

The best time to prune most trees is in the winter months. To do it well, now is the time to make a mental note of what needs to be done. For example, identifying dead branches is easier during the growing season but pruning should be postponed until the tree is dormant.

Things to Remember:

  1. Remove the right parts - refer to the figure below
  2. Use the right tools.
    • Hire a professional for pruning outside your comfort zone
    • Sharp pruning sheers or pruning saw.
    • A chain saw (and related safety gear) may be needed for large limbs.
    • Safety glasses and gloves
    • A ladder to extend your reach
  3. Use the right techniques.
    • Use three cut method to avoid bark ripping
    • Cut just outside of the branch collar
    • Use the right sized cutting tool for the branch
    • Clean tools with rubbing alcohol between trees or after cutting diseased limbs
    • Properly dispose of diseased or infested wood/brush

Cautions

  • Do not use pruning paint – this will inhibit natural healing
  • Never prune oak trees in the spring and summer as Anoka County is the oak wilt capitol of the world and pruned trees are likely to get infected
  • If the tree is unhealthy, diagnose the cause before pruning
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Creating a More Resilient Landscape at Kings Island

Anoka Conservation District has been working with the City of Anoka and Mississippi Park Connection to create a more resilient landscape at Kings Island. Efforts have begun to remove invasive buckthorn from the island to allow space and light for native plant regeneration. Invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) infestations that kill ash trees have been detected throughout the Metro region and near Kings Island. Approximately 50% of Kings Island canopy is ash (green, black or white ash) so a loss of ash would have a great impact on the habitat on Kings Island. Surveys have and will continue to be conducted to monitor for the presence of EAB. To prepare for the loss of ash trees and create a more resilient landscape at Kings Island, a diversity of tree and shrubs were planted by volunteers. Species planted include Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), Red-oiser Dogwood (Cornus sericea), Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Cottonwood (Populus deltoids), Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), and Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) a tree with a more southern range. More efforts are needed to control buckthorn and create diversity for a more resilient landscape at Kings Island. 

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Fall is a Great Time to Identify Invasive Species

Early fall can be a great time to identify invasive species around your property. Invasive species can potentially outcompete native plants. Controlling invasive species can help increase native plant diversity and create better habitat for local wildlife. It also help stop the spread of invasive seeds to your neighbor's property and other natural areas. The first step in managing invasive species on your property is by identifying them. Three species to look out for this time of the year are:

Canada Thistle is an aggressive perennial that produces many seeds. They are best identified by their wavy spiny/toothed margins that can be prickly if walked through. Most of their purple flowers have turned into a ball of white fluff by this time of year

Purple loosestrife is listed as a MDA prohibited noxious weed that grows along shoreland areas. Purple loosestrife can make it difficult to access open water and the dense root systems can even change the hydrology of wetlands. Leaves are lance-shaped with smooth edges and grow up to four inches long. They are usually arranged in pairs opposite each other on the stem, and rotated 90 degrees from the pair below. Individual flowers have five or six pink-purple petals surrounding small, yellow centers. Single flowers make up flower spikes, which can be up to one foot tall. This is a great time to look for the bright purple flowers along your shore.

Common tansy is also an invasive species that is currently flowering. The flowers are bright yellow and button like arranged in a flat-topped cluster. The leaves look fern like with reddish-brown stems. It is very common invasive species in the arrowhead of Minnesota. This quick spreading species can greatly impact landscape restoration efforts.

You can reach out to ACD if you want to confirm an invasive species on your property or want advice on how to manage the invasive population. 

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Linwood Lakers Trying Out Native Shoreline Plants

"Try it, and you'll like it. The first one's free." A free trial can be just what's needed to break through to new customers. At this year's Linwood Lake Improvement Association annual picnic, the Anoka Conservation District distributed nearly 100 native shoreline plants to be planted all around the lake at around 20 different properties.

Native plants can mean "weeds" to some folks. Or just out of the comfort zone. But the right plant in the right place is beautiful and effective. On shorelines there are a variety of native plants that are the perfect choice –beautiful, strong, and well-adapted to the wet. Good habitat too. They're key to a stable shore and healthy lake.

Thanks to Prairie Restorations, Inc who provided the giveaway plants. ACD offers technical help and grants for those wanting to do a larger shore stabilization or buffer project. 

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Restoring Hydrology and Wetland Habitat at Cedar Creek Conservation Area

The Anoka Conservation District, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Anoka County Parks are collaborating to restore hydrology and enhance five acres of wetland and one acre of upland prairie at Anoka County Park's Cedar Creek Conservation Area. Two wetland basins were enhanced by installing sheet piling ditch plugs and adding fill material in a private ditch that was draining the wetlands. A berm to prevent water from entering the ditch was constructed to enhance a third wetland basin. Non-native reed canary grass biomass and root sod was scraped from these wetland basins and used to fill the ditch. Construction is complete and vegetation management will occur on these three basins and two additional basins in the area for the next five years using funds from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The goal is to convert these once drained wetlands that were dominated by reed canary grass to wetlands with native vegetation and greater water holding capacity. This will provide benefits to water quality and improve wildlife habitat.

  1282 Hits

Linwood Elementary School Rain and Pollinator Garden

Turning a problem into a solution with the Linwood Elementary School rain and pollinator garden.

Construction and expansion took place recently at Linwood Elementary School resulting in a larger roof capturing and sending more rain water to an area in front of the school. This small area is surrounded by the building on two sides, the front sidewalk, and the sidewalk to the main entrance. The additional water produced a large deep puddle for several days and a mud pit after water finally infiltrated. There was a need to improve that area for safety and aesthetics especially since it is in front of the school entrance. The solution: a rain and pollinator garden.

The depressed basin provides a micro example of different hydrologic zones and plant communities ranging from upland plants on the perimeter of the area and wetland plants down in the basin. Parent volunteer, Jennifer Braido took the lead to help facilitate and three 4th grade classes learned about rain gardens so they could create a design for the rain and pollinator garden. ACD staff and Jennifer taught 4th graders about hydrologic zones, plant communities, wetland indicator status, plant adaptations including aerenchyma tissue in wetland plant roots and plant's seasonal bloom times. With all this information, the classes choose their favorite plants for different zones of the garden and did some math to determine how many plants they needed. Another parent volunteer, Robb Johnson, and ACD staff worked to increase water storage capacity by installing a French drain which has reduced the time of standing water after a large rainfall. Finally, the 4th graders were out planting their rain-pollinator garden with the upland species along the edges and the wetland species down in the basin. While they were planting, a monarch butterfly fluttered around appreciating this new habitat. An educational sign is posted to highlight the benefits of rain and pollinator gardens to all that pass by the main entrance to Linwood Elementary School.

  1032 Hits

Prairie Enhancement at Gordie Mikkelson WMA

There has been a flurry of activity in the Gordie Mikkelson WMA prairies this spring. ACD is working with the MN DNR, Native Resource Preservation, and Linwood Elementary School to enhance 9.3 acres of prairie and add more species of native grasses and wildflowers in the already established windswept prairie. The 840-acre Gordie Mikkelson WMA is ranked as high biodiversity by the MN Biological Survey, and is an example of the mosaic Anoka Sand Plain landscape, containing a diversity of native plant communities including oak woodlands, sedge meadows, wetlands, and swamps. The MN DNR restored three grassland areas in Gordie Mikkelson WMA to native dry prairie. A remaining 9.3 acres are now undergoing restoration/enhancement. The goal is to convert these areas mostly dominated by non- native smooth brome and quackgrass to a dry prairie plant community (UPs13/Southern Upland Prairie System). Native Resource Preservation (NRP) conducted site preparation herbicide treatments in fall 2019 and fall 2020. The MN DNR conducted a prescribed burn in spring 2021 and NRP spread a diverse seed mix following the Rx burn and will follow up with establishment mowing. The already established windswept prairie is near the Linwood Elementary School and along the trail to their School Forest. This location provides a great opportunity to create a diverse prairie for future seed collection. ACD staff and 16 Linwood Elementary School classes planted 28 different species of plant plugs to add diversity and start a seed source that can be collected and spread to other prairies in the Mikkelson WMA.

  1079 Hits

Firsts for the Rare Plant Rescue Program

ACD, Critical Connections Ecological Services, MN Landscape Arboretum, and 17 volunteers salvaged 500 State Endangered rubus stipulatus plants from a proposed development site. This was made possible by working closely with the MN DNR Endangered Species Consultant to incorporate the group's permitted salvage plan with the developer's permit to Take Threatened/ Endangered (T/E) Species for development. If T/E species are found on a site, developers are required to apply for a Permit for the Take of Endangered or Threatened Species Incidental to a Development Project which includes compensatory mitigation. For the first time, the DNR also included our group's salvage plan in part of the Take permit. There was a short window of time between the paperwork and the construction to salvage and transplant. Thankfully volunteers showed up to help out despite the 90-degree temperatures. Plants were transplanted into experimental plots at Bunker Regional Park, City of Blaine Pioneer Park, and Lino Lakes Woolan Park. Plants were also taken to the MN Landscape Arboretum where volunteers potted them for safe keeping for future planting. These 200 potted plants will likely be planted into experimental plots in the fall at Bunker Regional Park, City of Blaine Pioneer Park, Lino Lakes Woolan Park, Blaine Wetland Sanctuary and Columbus Lake Conservation Area. This is the first Endangered Species the Rare Plant Rescue Program has salvaged. 

  1104 Hits

Stop the Spread of AIS

Summer is coming! Warmer temperatures and fishing opener mean aquatic invasive species and MN boaters are ramping up activity on Minnesota lakes and rivers.

Do your part to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals by cleaning, draining, and drying all recreational equipment that goes into a Minnesota lake or stream.

To help protect our lakes and rivers:

  • Clean and drain boats and equipment before leaving the water access.
  • Dispose of all unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash.
  • Learn to recognize aquatic invasive species (AIS).
  • Follow Minnesota's AIS laws and regulations.

Share this information with others who spend time fishing, boating, or recreating in Minnesota.

  1133 Hits

It's Garlic Mustard Season!

Now is a great time of year to check your property for Garlic Mustard. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolatais) is an invasive species originally from Europe and Asia and typically establishes in the understory of forests and in fields. Garlic Mustard can spread quickly in the wind and can soon start to outcompete native species by emerging earlier, blocking sunlight, and using the limited moisture and nutrients in the ecosystem. Garlic Mustard also releases chemicals into the soil via its roots that alters the important underground network of fungi that connect nutrients between native plants.

During its first year, garlic mustard leaves are rounder and take on a rosette formation at ground level. In their second year, the leaves grow up a flowering stem and become more triangular and heart-shaped with toothed edges. Small white four-petaled flowers emerge in the spring. Hand pulling is an easy way to control small populations of Garlic Mustard and is best done in the spring before they go to seed. These plants can then be placed in a plastic bag and thrown out with the garbage and should not be composted.

Any effort to remove Garlic Mustard from your property might seem daunting, but over time, you will hopefully see native plants start to repopulate the areas you have removed Garlic Mustard.


Learn more about Garlic Mustard here:

Garlic mustard distribution on EDDMaps

Garlic mustard fact sheet

MDA garlic mustard website

MDA garlic mustard life cycle and treatment info sheet

  1196 Hits

Get a Little Wild in Your Yard

I noticed my neighbors doing this in their backyard. At first, I thought it was odd and might attract unsavory characters to the neighborhood and bring down property values. Now, I'm a card carrying member of the Rewild Club. It's best to explain.

I took a hard look at my yard and ask myself…What do I want from this space?

  • A peaceful shady retreat?
  • Home grown food?
  • Entertainment central?
  • Ruckus area for kids and pets?

What do I need to make that happen? A patio, a water feature, play area, shade trees, garden plot, privacy screening, a lawn area for recreation, disco ball and dance floor, an amphitheater for Shakespeare in the Park night?

I realized that my yard was mostly seldom-used lawn and none of the other fun stuff.

Amphitheater and disco balls aside, I started to pull together a plan. The biggest surprise was how much better my yard would be if I did less work. I opted to rewild unused space. Along the perimeter of my yard I stopped mowing, I stopped raking, I stopped fertilizing, I stopped weeding, and I stopped watering. In other words, I released by inner teenager. I let trees and shrubs that popped up keep growing, and planted a few for fall color, nesting, fruit and flowers. In a few years, instead of staring at a fence that needed maintenance, I had a living screen of trees and shrubs. Birds and butterflies came back to enjoy the flowers and fruits of my lack of labor, and they turned out not to be the unsavory characters I had imagined. The shade makes hot summer days in the yard enjoyable and cuts my lawn watering in half. There still plenty of lawn for kids and pets, but now the space is a haven for the family and a little wildlife.

Tips for the would-be rewilder.

  1. Just mow less.
  2. Baby steps. Pick a small area to try first. Consider it a journey of many years, not a mountain to climb on a single trek.
  3. Forget tidy. Wild areas can be messy. You can keep the edges formal if you want.
  4. Pick up ID books for birds, flowers, and trees so you can get to know your new neighbors. Books? Did he say books? I think he meant App.
  5. Avoid using chemicals where the wild things are.
  6. Think vertically if you have a small space. Tall trees, medium sized trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses can call have a place in a very small area.
  7. Add a water feature to ramp up the wildlife appeal.
  8. Plant diversity is good. Variety will make the space more interesting and resistant to stressors like disease and drought.
  9. Speed up the process with affordable bare root trees and shrubs from your local conservation district annual tree sale.
  10. Avoid invaders. Learn a few of the invasive plants in your area and try to keep them out of your wild space.
  11. Let your neighbors know why you would do such zaniness.
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Rescuing Rare Plants in Anoka County

Staff from Anoka Conservation District, Critical Connections Ecological Services, and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum will work with volunteers the last week of April to salvage up to 1,000 State Endangered Rubus stipulatus from a development site and transplant them into protected sites.

Rare plant rescue has been made possible with MN DNR's permit application for the Propagation of Endangered or Threatened Species, which was developed in 2019. Since the release of the permit application, approximately 7,500 State Threatened lance-leaved violets (viola lanceolata) and 150 State Threated swamp blackberry (rubus semisetosus) have been salvaged from three development sites and transplanted into protected sites where their populations are monitored.

To learn more about rare species in Minnesota, go the MN DNR's Rare Species Guide:https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/index.html

  1490 Hits

Siberian Peashrub treatment at Bunker Hills Regional Park

Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens) is a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota. It has a background similar to Common Buckthorn, commonly found in hedge groves, shelterbelts, and wildlife plantings. Siberian peashrub is not as common as buckthorn but is becoming more prevalent throughout the state. These plants have an extensive root system and the ability to self-reproduce to create new infestations. Last year, infestations in Bunker Hills regional park were surveyed and mapped by ACD staff. These maps were used during three days of targeted treatment by ACD this winter. After three days, ACD completed cut-stump treatment on 14 infestations which totaled approximately 3.5 acres. 

  1036 Hits

2020 ACD Technical Assistance Summary

ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2020 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.

Assistance begins with a site consultation. Consultations typically include a conversation with the landowner, desktop review of the site using GIS mapping software and available data sets, and a site visit to discuss options. If the landowner is interested in pursuing a project, ACD can provide design and installation oversight services. Maintenance guidance is also provided for previously installed projects.

Additional information about active projects and those previously completed is available on ACD's project tracking map.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Shortlist/index.html?appid=d1e76c3d808743c1b149bde24c990894

  1017 Hits

Plant Native Trees and Shrubs for Pollinators

If you are looking for a low maintenance option to benefit native pollinators, consider planting native trees and shrubs. They provide overwintering habitat and food sources for our native bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, and beetles. Many trees and shrubs bloom in the spring and provide an early nectar and pollen source. Fun fact from Heather Holm: One, 70 foot tall, mature black cherry tree (photos below) has the equivalent number of flowers as a 3,500 square foot perennial garden.

ACD's Annual Tree sale has a wide variety of trees and shrubs to choose from! See the full catalog here: https://www.anokaswcd.org/tree-sale-order-forms/2012-10-26-17-32-43.html

See Heather Holm's Native Tree and Shrubs for Pollinators guide for more information: https://www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com/uploads/1/3/9/1/13913231/treesshrubsposter.pdf

  1250 Hits

Best Native Trees for our Changing Climate

Climate change has many impacts on the natural environment and there are many ways we can help reduce climate change. There is yet another way to help with the impacts of climate change. Planting a diversity of trees that are predicted to thrive in a changing climate will help the landscape adapt and become more resilient.

Minnesota's climate is changing. Average temperatures have increased 1 - 3 ◦F statewide with the greatest temperature increases in the winter. Total precipitation has increased with more intense rainfalls. Despite the increase in total precipitation, there have been more days between precipitation events, which increases the potential for drought. The US National Climate Assessment predicts that these trends will continue in Minnesota. By the end of the century, Minnesota will likely have the summer climate of Nebraska and Kansas (Figure 1). Plant communities and habitat types will change along with the changing climate. Most tree species northward range are predicted to shift about 300 miles by the end of the century (McKenney et al. 2007). The change in tree cover alters the understory and the habitat for wildlife. One way to help the landscape adapt and become more resilient is to plant a diversity of trees and include species from more southern areas.

US Forest Service climate change models predict these trees are likely to thrive in a changing climate in the Metro region:

Tree Species

Habitat

American elm *

Average – Moist soil, floodplains, deciduous forest, swamps

Basswood

Deciduous forests, woodland edges

Black Oak

Savanna

Black Walnut

Mixed forest, Savannas, banks

Bur Oak

Forest to open prairie

Cottonwood

Lowland forests along along lakes and streams, floodplains

Hackberry

Average – Moist soil, Hardwood forest, floodplains, river bank

Shagbark hickory

Upland dry forest

Silver maple

Floodplain forest, riverbanks

White Oak

Upland dry forest

* disease resistant needed


Consider the habitat, moisture, soil, and sun conditions when selecting trees for your property.

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/treecare/best-native-yard-trees.html


McKenney DW Pedlar JH Lawrence K Campbell K Hutchinson MF. 2007. Potential impacts of climate change on the distribution of North American trees. BioScience 57:939-948.

  1318 Hits

Winter Buckthorn Treatment is Underway

Common and glossy buckthorn are common invaders in native landscapes; common buckthorn grows mostly in upland environments while glossy buckthorn grows in wetland environments. ACD is working to control buckthorn at sites that still have intact native plant communities and rare plants to ensure those quality sites do not become further degraded. Work this winter is taking place at Robert and Marilyn Burman WMA, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, and Blaine Preserve SNA with funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

  1181 Hits

ACD Leads the Way on Rare Plant Conservation in Minnesota

Birds-eye view of volunteers planting rare lance-leafed violets at Blaine Wetland Preserve

Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has partnered with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (MLA) and Critical Connections Ecological Services (CCES) to salvage thousands of rare lance-leafed violets (Viola lanceolata)—a Minnesota State Threatened species—from permitted construction sites in Blaine, MN. Thanks to the new MN Department of Natural Resources 'Permit for the Propagation of Endangered or Threatened Plants', volunteers and staff from the City of Blaine, ACD, MLA, CCES, and the surrounding community were able to take these rare plants, clean them to remove weed seeds, and then transplant them into the protected Blaine Wetland Sanctuary. The newly planted lance-leaved violet populations will be monitored over time to determine the effectiveness of transplanting.  

Opened seed head of the lance-leafed violet (Viola lanceolata)

"Salvaging threatened and endangered plants from development projects where they would otherwise be destroyed provides an important opportunity to explore transplant options and to collect critical information about these rare plants. We aim to develop salvage and management protocols and monitor the efficacy of transplanting rare plants," said Carrie Taylor of the Anoka Conservation District.

"We have seen the destruction of many rare plant populations over the past couple of decades due to development. We are grateful for the MN DNR's new 'Permit for the Propagation of Endangered and Threatened Plants' so that we can move these plants to protected areas and learn how best to manage them," said Chris Lord, of the Anoka Conservation District. 

(From left to right) Carrie Taylor, Amanda Weise, and Jason Husveth--architects of the Rare Plant Salvage project

Anoka County is home to many unique habitats and rare species. However, development is rapidly increasing in the County, causing fragmentation of the landscape and threatening rare plant populations. The constructi