MRVAC News

2017 Youth Summer Camps at Audubon Center of the North Woods

By Greg Burnes | May 4, 2017

The Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) in Sandstone MN offers a variety of youth camps that have a focus on wildlife, nature, challenge and outdoor skills. Give your child the gift of the great outdoors and memories that last a lifetime!

ACNW provides great accommodations, wonderful scratch-based meal service, a top-notch, experienced staff and engaging activities to provide one of the best outdoor camp experiences around.

Photo courtesy of ACNW

In June and July: Rocks, Ropes & Rafts (entering grades 6-8), Ways of Wildlife (entering grades 5-7 ), Outdoor Explorations (entering grades 5-7). Need-based partial scholarships are available.

ACNW has been providing environmental and outdoor education programs since 1971. Our focus is on developing an understanding, ethics and responsibility regarding the environment and the role of humans through formal and informal experiences that link nature and humans.

John Rehbein passed away at 90

By Tracy Albinson | May 3, 2017

John passed away on Thursday, February 16, 2017. He was a founding member of MRVAC and 2006 Trumpeter Award winner.

For 20+ years he led the spring warbler field trip to Hok-Si-La and Frontenac. In addition, in 1969, he started the Bloomington Christmas Bird Count that MRVAC still supports.

Read John’s obituary here.

MRVAC Newsletter Distribution

By Tracy Albinson | May 3, 2017

TrumpeterMRVAC’s newsletter, The Trumpeter, is a valuable tool for communicating what is going on in the environmental community, great book reviews, updates on birding events and more.

However, the challenge is that printing the Trumpeter costs MRVAC close to $4,000 per year. That is a substantial part of our budget that could be invested in supporting youth programs, birding events, and more. Therefore, we are asking those who have access to the internet to go to our new website – mrvac.org/newsletter – and download or read the Trumpeter on-line.

If you want an email reminder when the new Trumpeter has been posted on the web site, you can sign up on the Newsletter page.

If you are unable to get the Trumpeter on-line, you can opt-in and have a hard copy of the Trumpeter delivered to you. Please complete the card that came with the May/June Trumpeter and send it to us or bring it to the next refuge meeting. If we don’t hear from you, we will assume you will be enjoying the Trumpeter on-line.

SPECIAL EVENT – MRVAC Day at Cedar Creek on July 8th

By Greg Burnes | May 3, 2017
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Dave Menke, USFWS
On July 8. 9:30 – noon, you will have a unique opportunity to get a “back-stage” look at the Red-Headed Woodpecker Recover Project and the many nesting RHWP at Cedar Creek. 

As part of MRVAC’s 50th Anniversary we are sponsoring a MRVAC Day at Cedar Creek. We will start the day with a short presentation about the RHWP Recovery Project’s new initiative to track the migratory path of the these little-studied birds and then we will have a guided walk into the closed nesting area. 

If you are interested in joining us please send an email to gburnes@comcast.net. There is no charge, though any donations would be appreciated to help support MRVAC’s on-going work.

We have limited space and will send out more information as we get closer to July 8th.

Minnesota Water Action Day

By Tracy Albinson | February 22, 2017

Make Your Voice Heard on Water Action Day 

To Register (event is free): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/minnesota-water-action-day-registration-31483505011

Water Action Day is happening on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 and it will be a great opportunity for Audubon members to come to the Capitol for the day and participate in advocacy meetings, as well as a rally with the larger community interested in water issues. Many other Audubon members from around the state will be there and a host of other conservation advocates will also be in attendance.

There will be a training in the morning on how to effectively advocate for the water issues that birds and people face in Minnesota and a rally in the Rotunda at 1 pm. Throughout the day, there will be events to learn how to be civically engaged and also, what to expect in meetings with elected officials. Watch for updates and more information on Audubon Minnesota’s Facebook page and website.

If there are members that would be willing to travel to the state Capitol anytime this spring, Audubon Minnesota can help set up meetings with your legislators, attend the meetings with you, and help you through the entire process. This is an impactful way to voice your support for clean water and it can be fun, too! Please contact Molly Pederson if you are interested meeting with your legislator at the Capitol (mpederson@audubon.org)

Salt Lake Birding Weekend: April 29

By Tracy Albinson | February 22, 2017
American Avocets, Lee Karney, courtesy USFWS

Sponsored by MOU and MRVAC 

If you’re dreaming about spring and wanting to find migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, why not join the 42nd annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend? On Saturday April 29, 2017, volunteers will guide birders around Salt Lake, Big Stone Refuge, the lakes, wetlands and native prairies in Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Big Stone counties.

This event is free and open to all who are interested. No pre-registration is required.

Last year over 100 birders found 117 different species of birds with an additional one on Friday and eight on Sunday for a total of 126. Friday and Sunday birding is on your own. Contact Ken or stop by Prairie Marsh Farm for more information on local sites. Information and map at http://moumn.org/saltlake/ 

Last year with temperatures in the upper 70’s, high winds resulted in low numbers of shorebirds. The best birds found on Saturday were two American Avocets, one White-faced Ibis and one Willet at Meidd Lake, a Great-tailed Grackle, early Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chimney Swift, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Pileated Woodpecker (hard to find out west) and a Ferruginous Hawk. Lincoln’s Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow and a single late Pine Siskin were found at Prairie Marsh Farm, the latter being unique in my records for the Salt Lake Bird count. Later as the winds died down we found a flock of 300 shorebirds at Salt Lake including Pectoral and Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and Franklin’s Gull.

On Saturday April 29 at 7 a.m. meet at the Marietta American Legion, located one block west of the intersection of County Road 7 and State Highway 40, 11 miles west of Madison. Coffee, sweet rolls, juice and milk will be available for purchase. Guided car caravans will leave between 7 and 8 am. At noon stop back at the Legion for barbecue sandwiches (available at a modest cost), compare notes and continue afternoon birding. A Saturday chicken dinner for $10, will be served at 7:30 pm at the Sons of Norway Hall on Highway 75 in Madison. Reservations are necessary for dinner; please contact Julie Claflin by email at JulieClaflin@gmail.com . After dinner there will be a short program and then the species count for the day will be recorded.

Local lodging is available:

  • Lou’s Lodge in Madison: 320-598-7518
  • Vali Vu Motel in Ortonville: 320-839-2558
  • Prairie Waters Inn in Appleton: 320-289-2500
  • Country Inn by Carlson in Montevideo: 320-269-8000

Free camping is available at Prairie Marsh Farm, 1770 151st Ave, Marietta, located 7 miles west of US 75 and 1.5 miles south of 212. Contact Ken Larson for more information or to reserve a camping site – home (Minnetonka) 952-595-9265, cell 612-210-8486 or email to prairiemarshfarm@comcast.net.

What Hath We Wrought?

By Tracy Albinson | January 11, 2017

By Don Arnosti, Isaak Walton League 

Of all the people in these United States, we Minnesotans should have some understanding of what just happened politically at the national level. Those of us older than 35 remember the 1998 election for Minnesota Governor, which brought us Jesse Ventura. He, too, ran “against the system” as a plain-speaking regular guy. He was a skilled public performer. We were sick of “same-old, same-old” and went for the outsider in a last-minute emotional wave.

The danger is to think that “it will be alright” just like in 1998. To paraphrase, “Donald Trump is no Jesse Ventura.” The reality is, almost no one knows what Donald Trump believes, much less what he’ll do with regard to the environment. (I think “no one” includes the President-elect, himself.)

What we do know, is that because this wave of populism swept one party into power at all levels from President (and therefore Supreme Court) to Congress, to both houses in Minnesota, we are very likely to get a strong push to fulfill every wish of every major donor to that party.

In Minnesota, we can only guess what the single-party legislature will propose? Last year, we witnessed roll backs of pollution requirements for the taconite industry, unnecessary subsidies to the Koch Refinery, and strong efforts to eliminate energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements for utilities (which support solar and wind generation across the state.) In a democracy built on a complex system of checks and balances, we have lost nearly every check…

Except the people of this great nation.

There are two essential forms of power in our country. We are all aware of the great, distorting power of money in our political system. I have personally witnessed this here in Minnesota, at work in our legislature, just this year.

The second form of power exists in organized groups of citizens working together with purpose and determination. Nothing can resist this, even concentrated money.

At times of crisis, our nation rises to the challenge. Our history is replete with examples. The flaming Cuyahoga River galvanized a nation to demand the Clean Water Act. Must we see more “flaming rivers” to unite in our defense of clean water? Clean air? Wildlife and habitats? Action to preserve a livable earth for our grandchildren?

We must now step forward, united, to guide our new political establishment to understand that an election “rejecting the status quo” does not mean turning over our public lands for resource extraction. It does not mean rolling back or failing to enforce environmental standards. We must unite and speak firmly to power.

Join the MRVAC Conservation Committee to stay informed and to join with people across Minnesota to stand up for conservation. Contact Greg Burnes at gburnes@comcast.net or keep an eye on the MRVAC Facebook page for updates

In addition, consider joining the “Ikes and Friends” Conservation Committee to stay informed and to join with people across Minnesota standing up for conservation. Contact me to get involved: donarnosti@gmail.com.

Support Lead-Free Public Lands and Waters

By Tracy Albinson | January 11, 2017

Ashley J. Peters, Audubon Minnesota 

Bald EagleAudubon has a long history of working to remove toxins from our environment and toxic lead shot is no different. Every year, eagles, swans, ducks, and other birds get sick and die when they ingest lead shot that remains in wetlands, waterways, and injured or leftover game after a hunt. Just one or two lead pellets is enough to kill a Bald Eagle.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has proposed a rule change that would ban the use of toxic lead shot within certain wildlife management areas (WMAs) and when hunting rails and snipe statewide. Audubon Minnesota supports this proposed rule change because it allows for a reasonable, phased-in approach toward minimizing unintended bird deaths and reducing lead shot deposited on our public lands.

As the DNR works to finalize the rule change next year, we’ll need you to advocate for the use of nontoxic ammunition on WMAs. Learn more about this issue by visiting mn.audubon.org and watch for updates in the next newsletter.

Audubon Minnesota in Action at the Legislature

By Tracy Albinson | January 11, 2017

By Molly Pederson, Executive Director, Audubon MN & Kimberly Scott, Legislative Liaison 

Minnesota is a better place for birds and people because of your commitment to fighting for clean water, reducing carbon pollution, and making homes and communities more bird-friendly. Regardless of political affiliation, we must continue to work together as conservationists to address issues that impact us all.

The Minnesota Legislature kicks off the 2017 legislative session on January 3rd. Your voice is needed to protect, restore, and conserve our natural resources.

What to Expect 

This will be the first year of the legislative biennium, which means legislators will focus on funding the state’s budget. In order to pass a new budget or make other legislative changes, Republicans will need Democratic Governor Mark Dayton’s approval. Gov. Dayton has signaled his continued desire to support clean water programs and policies and Audubon Minnesota will assist those efforts by advocating for budget outcomes that promote clean water.

The 2017 legislative session is not a bonding year, however, both majorities have expressed interest in passing a pared down bonding bill.* An important project that was included in the 2016 bonding bill was funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). CREP benefits clean water by helping landowners install and maintain perennial grasses and flowers on their most erodible acres. Many of you wrote and encouraged your legislators to support bonding for CREP last May. Because of your action and others, CREP was included in the 2016 bonding bill for $10 million. Disappointingly, the overall 2016 bonding package failed to pass the Legislature, but we will need your help again to appeal for the inclusion of CREP in any bonding bill considered this session.

Whether you are supporting clean water, habitat for birds, or renewable energy, your voice will make a difference. Audubon Minnesota will endeavor to keep you informed of relevant actions at the Minnesota Legislature and assist you in making your voice heard.

We can help by scheduling and facilitating discussion between you and your representatives at the State Capitol.

Watch for calls to action and consider meeting with your legislators in person to advocate for these important issues.

You can also make an impact by writing a personal letter or phone call.

The best way to support policies and state funding for birds is to get involved. Let us know how we can help you participate in our joint mission.

As a result of the election, below is an update on the make-up of the House and the Senate: 

Senate 

  • ? Republicans have a new majority, led by Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.
  • ? The Senate majority will be held by a single seat (34-33) which will likely necessitate a higher level of cooperation with the Democratic Farm-Labor minority, in order to, pass most legislation.
  • ? Senator Tom Bakk will serve as Minority Leader for the DFL.

House 

  • ? Republicans have an expanded majority in the House (76 seats), led by Speaker Kurt Daudt.
  • ? The DFL will hold 58 seats and be led by Minority Leader Melissa Hortman.

*Bonding dollars generally go towards repair, renovation, or replacement of publicly owned buildings, property, and land. The state raises money for these projects by selling bonds on the bond market and then pays debt service to pay off the bonds over time.

Call for Trumpeter Award Nominations

By Tracy Albinson | January 11, 2017

Each spring for 14 of the past 16 years, MRVAC has presented the Trumpeter Award to one of its members for outstanding long-term contributions to MRVAC. We are soliciting nominations from you; tell us who you think should be our next recipient. Please send in a nomination by Jan. 31. The selection committee, which is composed of the previous years’ recipients, will review the nominations and forward their choice to the Board. The award will be presented at a subsequent meeting.

There are two ways to get a nomination form:

  1. Find the nomination form at www.mrvac.org.
  2. Call Becky Lystig (651-452-1133) to have a copy mailed to you.

Completed applications can be sent to her at markbeckylystig@comcast.net or mailed to Becky Lystig, 1741 Sartell Ave, Eagan, MN 55122.

Previous Trumpeter Award recipients:

  • 2001: Karol Gresser
  • 2002: Joe White
  • 2003: Pat & Jack Telfer
  • 2004: Edith Grace Quam
  • 2005: Craig Mandel
  • 2006: John Rehbein
  • 2007: Lois Norrgard
  • 2008: Jack Mauritz
  • 2009: George Tkach
  • 2010: Bob Leis
  • 2011: Anne Hanley & George Skinner
  • 2012: Steve Weston
  • 2013: Bob Williams
  • 2016: Mark & Becky Lystig

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