Today’s Events

No events today, but take a look below to see what's coming up.

MRVAC Programs

No MRVAC programs are scheduled for July and August. See you in September!

  • ~ August 23, 2014. 7:00 am. Field Trip: Rapids Lake Education Center, MVNWR
  • ~ August 24, 2014. All Day Event. Field Trip: Cannon River Bottoms
  • ~ August 25, 2014. 7:00 am. Field Trip: Bloomington Ferry Unit, MVNWR
  • ~ September 2, 2014. 6:30 pm. Meeting: Environmental Action Committee (EAC)
  • ~ October 7, 2014. 6:30 pm. Meeting: Environmental Action Committee (EAC)
  • ~ November 4, 2014. 6:30 pm. Meeting: Environmental Action Committee (EAC)
  • ~ December 2, 2014. 6:30 pm. Meeting: Environmental Action Committee (EAC)

Matthew’s Musings: July-August, 2014

By Matthew Schaut, MRVAC President

It’s nice to know some things don’t change – death, taxes, not having the President’s decision on the XL pipeline. Maybe it’s political wisdom to avoid taking a solid position. Imagine if Obama emits a resounding N-O and nixes the pipeline. How exciting for the nefarious interests backing the pipeline. Now these plutocrats will have a position they can rally their “troops” against. Actually, I doubt they have any troops to rally – just money to buy up a few necessary hearts and minds in the media. Can I get an amen for “FOX News, bought and paid for” (which I think is what they mean every time they assert “fair and balanced”). There’s no justification for the Alberta tar sands desecration. Besides the fact that we are learning how viscous and unlikely to flow without mishap tar sands are, the only benefit is to make a few rich investors richer. I severely resent the spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, a heartland of my Potowatami heritage. They don’t have any idea how to clean up the mess. In the Upper Midwest, gas prices will rise because the exploiters of tar sands will be able to sell to overseas markets at a much higher rate than they can currently sell to the markets they can reach without pipelines to an ocean, any ocean. Right now they are stuck selling to us nearby, inland markets. Guess we aren’t paying enough to satisfy the dollar signs in their eyes.

It’s best just to say no, whatever Obama’s political calculus. No to the pipeline and to the whole fracking enterprise. In Pennsylvania, the Environmental Defense Fund and other parties have entered into an agreement with the fracking industry that they say is more environmentally protective than Federal guidelines. Who knows? The EDF may have felt compelled to try this strategy because of the manner in which the GOP controlled legislature and governor’s office rewrote the regulations on fracking to take away local control and open the state to drillers. California has a chance to ban all fracking, and they should. So should Minnesota.

It has been disappointing to see the media coverage of tar sands mining in Minnesota. Quite simply, the whole enterprise is immoral and no sands should ever be mined that aid the fracking debacle that is only adding to the carbon burden in the atmosphere, climate change, and habitat destruction. Yet media analysts, pundits, and policy makers to consistently ignore this BEAM in their eyes while focusing on minutiae of local zoning ordinances, traffic congestion, while mayors have resigned because they found they could make more money serving as shills for the tar sands industry… This focus on minutiae legitimizes a criminal enterprise, and allows our environment to be nickel and dimed away. When environmentalists are forced to or choose to engage in these small scale local battles, the war is already lost. There may be some Pyrrhic victories, but the unrelenting pressure to degrade the environment will keep taking away inch after inch after inch…

Humans have already fracked up this Earth way too much. I keep forgetting the human population isn’t already at 10,000,000,000 mouths to feed. I guess it’s really 7,000,000,000 right now. I can’t imagine another 3,000,000,000. The congestion is already too much to bear. The thought that nearly 80% of the human population will soon be living in urban areas is extremely depressing.

There are of course some human activities that are quite justifiable. I can think of about two. Birding of course, and the feathered marvels have been obliging us of late with a very interesting, lingering spring migration. Migrants seem unfazed by the cooler weather. I love watching birds act like they know what they are doing; they actually do seem to know how to feed themselves. The ones who push to be the first to reach prime breeding spots in northern climes spend most of their lives coping with cool weather as a matter of course. It’s said that our ancestors knew how to do that as well (think Ice Ages), even if we’ve forgotten how.

The other justifiable human activity is habitat preservation, pure and simple. Not development, not ‘multi-use’ – habitat preservation. Leave it and the birds and other life forms will use it, and maybe they (and we) will survive a little longer on this Earth. It’s the thing worth saying Y-E-S to, worthy of all our nickels and 

“Audubon Adventures” for 2014/2015 school year

The award-winnng Audubon Adventures are ready for elementary schools this fall. Learn more about getting them into classrooms.

Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah Celebration – Saturday, August 16

MRVAC is a proud sponsor of this annual event, celebrating all things hummingbird! Learn more.

A Tribute to Kathy Heidel

Kathy Heidel, retired Senior Interpretive Naturalist with Three Rivers Park District at Lowry Nature Center, passed away on May 17. Read More.

MRVAC binocular donation inspires children

Here is what Amanda, a 2nd grader, wrote following her class visit to Lowry Nature Center in March where she participated in bird banding, bird observation with binoculars donated by MRVAC and a bird habitat hike:

“Dear Dianne, I love when you put the band on the chickadee it was awesome learning all about them and seeing you be so gentle with it. And when we got to hear the bird’s heartbeat that bird was really fluffy! I used to not be interested in birds but after we got to learn all about birds with you I have been always looking out the window for birds and trying to name them! Thanks again for everything! Sincerely, Amanda”

Thank you to MRVAC for donating good quality Eagle Optics binoculars in past years to Lowry Nature Center to help make the students’ birding experience Submitted by Dianne Rowse, Interpretive Naturalist Lowry Nature Center, Three Rivers Park District 

Thanks to MRVAC Volunteers!

Thanks to new board member Rick Magee who is filling an At-Large position. Watch for a short bio of Rick in the September-October issue of the Trumpeter. Thanks also to Molly Eichten who is retiring from the board as Secretary.

Many people pull together to keep the chapter running, more than we can list here and now. Watch future issues for spotlights on various committees and individuals. For example, thanks to Craig Mandel, George Skinner, Steve Weston, Randy Hills, Jay Miller and Mark Lystig for leading some great bird outings this year.

If you would like to lead a bird walk in your favorite park, please contact Cheri Fox, fieldtrip coordinator, via email at or 612-590-1261.

Join the Environmental Action Committee

Help MRVAC make a difference for birds and wildlife – and the special places we like to visit. Learn more.

MRVAC in the community

Our chapter has been a proud sponsor of the Audubon Adventures (AA) program for many years. This program provides materials to elementary school classrooms in the area. Read more about the 2013/2014 school year.

Treats needed for upcoming meetings

We always need treats! If you can bring a few dozen cookies, bars or some easy-to-eat snack to share at the September or October meeting, please call Jan at 952-858-8604.

Fire codes affect seating in Refuge Visitor Center auditorium

At upcoming MRVAC meetings (the 4th Thursday of the month, during the school year) you may be asked to fill up empty seats or move in towards the center to allow others to sit down in the auditorium. We cannot bring in extra chairs and sit in the back when the room starts to get crowded, due to fire regulations.

Please help us comply with the rules and allow us to continue meeting at the Visitor Center by switching seats if necessary and by not carrying chairs into the auditorium. Thanks.