MRVAC News

Bluebird Monitors Needed

By Anne Hanley | June 28, 2017

Volunteers wanted to monitor 2 existing bluebird trails:

  • Bloomington = 4 boxes at 102nd St E & Park Ave.
  • Forest Lake = 6 boxes at Tanners Brook Golf Course; (plans are to expand to 10 later).

Contact Jack Hauser at jgshauser@gmail.com or  call 952-831-8132.

Citizen Science Opportunity: Phenology & Changing Seasonal Patterns

By Anne Hanley | June 28, 2017

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has recently mapped out a series of observation points to collect data on the effects of seasonal change for several plant and animal species. These observation points are connected in a series of three “phenology trails” along the refuge. These observations provide important information to scientists in the National Phenology Network, along with our own biologists, as they seek to better understand how species are effected by changing seasonal patterns.

Their research depends on people like you, the citizen scientists, to help collect invaluable field data all across the nation. The data collection is done through a citizen science initiative known as “Nature’s Notebook”, which utilizes a user-friendly website and mobile application to aid in simple and accurate data collection.

  • If you are interested in joining this campaign, please consider attending an upcoming (as yet unscheduled) workshop, where you will learn about the importance of phenology and how to use Nature’s Notebook to collect data, along with finding opportunities to get involved.

For more information please contact Cortney Solum at cortney_solum@fws.gov

Do You Remember When Turkeys Were Rare?

By Don Arnosti | June 28, 2017

Do you remember when it was rare to see a turkey in Minnesota? I do. When I started my conservation career about 30 years ago, they were few and far between. Now, they’ve become a big nuisance.

“Turkey” is my theme for this year’s legislative session. Never in my 30 years’ experience have the results for conservation and the environment been so poor. Never. And, there was plenty of gravy for the special interests who came to feast on this turkey.

I don’t recall the election past being about subverting the will of Minnesota voters and shifting dedicated water clean-up funds to government salaries. Did I miss the promises to cut residents out of permitting processes for mining? How are we better off with the DNR prohibited from regulating lead shot…when there are effective alternatives? And, what has been so wrong about DNR wetland replacement decisions regarding mining – that they back-dated a law 26 years to 1991 to cover it up!?

I’ve heard that the 1% are getting ahead faster than most of us. That carried through into environmental permitting: companies with the means to pay to get to the head of the permitting line, can, to the detriment of other permit applicants. They also have the right to write their own Environmental Impact Statements…and keep their data and assumptions private. Don’t even ask: We won’t tell. Cities have up to sixteen years to comply with new clean water standards. Kicking the clean water can down the road.

Solar, wind and energy conservation programs were cut or repealed entirely. Residents who get their power from municipal or cooperative power companies lost the regulatory oversight from the state, leaving them open to excessive fees to hook up their solar or wind installations. Existing challenges to such charges were dismissed by law. Representative Gruenhagen from Glencoe, Minnesota, in a floor speech that was widely shared, said Global Warming, was “Global Lying” and that it was a United Nations plot.

We tied our hands when it comes to pesticide applications – Minnesota can’t require a “demonstrated need” before use of certain pesticides. Bees and other pollinators are to be researched with a little extra money, but we’ve already eliminated one possible way to help them. Finally, the rarest of wetlands, calcareous fens (groundwater-fed wetlands, with many rare plants) are now on a “Commissioner’s Choice” list. Because one farmer wants to irrigate corn near a fen and his Senator is in his pocket, our protective law dating back a quarter century is now permissive. A future DNR Commissioner may allow “seasonal drawdowns” of groundwater in fens…so that we can have a few more acres of crops. More “turkey trimmings” (and a few small edible bits) can be found in my full legislative report on our website: www.mnikes.org.

I have indigestion from this Turkey of a session, and so does Minnesota’s environment. We are moving backwards on our promise of clean water and our need to transition to clean energy. We are doing nothing to improve our state parks. Did I mention we barely avoided a freeze on further acquisition of public wildlife lands?

When you are out and about this summer in Minnesota’s Great Outdoors, look around you. Do you want to pass this along to your children and their children? If so, please tell every elected official that represents you: No More Turkeys!

MRVAC Meetings Resume in September

By Greg Burnes | June 28, 2017

The next general MRVAC meeting with a speaker will be on September 28, 2017.

In the meantime, if you need a project, think about local habitat improvements. Could you add some native plants and trees somewhere (or somewhere else) in your yard? Perhaps volunteer with your city, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge or Great River Greening on some habitat project.

Support a Great Native Plant Resource

By Anne Hanley | June 28, 2017

The website https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/ is a great resource for learning about Minnesota native plants; you can find flowers by bloom date or color, for example, and lots of great photos.

From the website:

Our mission is to educate Minnesotans on our native plants, raise awareness on threats like invasive species, and inspire people to explore our great state, appreciate its natural heritage, and become involved in preserving it.

Over 1,300 plant species and more than 11,000 high quality photos are cataloged here, with more added each week, working towards recording all 2100+ plant species in Minnesota.

Help support this wonderful resource by contributing now to their fundraising campaign – at press time they were half way to their $10,000 goal.

Volunteer to Lead/Co-lead Bird Walks

By Cheri Fox | June 28, 2017

Where do you like to bird when you are birding alone or with a few friends? Birding by bike or canoe might be fun! Pick your favorite park or trail, somewhere close by or further afield, and contact me, Cheri Fox, about adding an outing to next year’s field trip schedule. We’d love to have a few more field trip leaders. I can be reached by phone at 612-590-1261 or cherifoxj@gmail.com.

If you have been thinking about leading a walk but are a little unsure about it, you may set up a field trip with a co-leader. You need not be an expert, you just need to be welcoming to your participants and have some experience with the trip location. For example, it’s very helpful if you have birded there before, know the park features (restrooms, optional trails back to the parking lot) – and where at least a few birds are likely to be found.

Chip Notes: July/August, 2017

By Greg Burnes | June 28, 2017

By Greg Burnes, MRVAC President 

By Tim from Ithaca, via Wikimedia Commons

In late May I found a female and male Mourning Warbler along Nine-Mile Creek. I was elated that I was able to pick its song out from the vocalizing of many other birds and return the next day to hear and get a glimpse of these beautiful warblers. I know many of you are thinking, “what’s the big deal?”, but I consider myself an AA (Avid but Average) birder, so for me this was very exciting accomplishment.

But, before I got too proud of myself I got to thinking about how indebted I am to all those who have helped me gain the birding skills I do possess and have stoked my excitement for birding over the years,. This type of mentoring and support is really what binds any community together. It may be a metaphorical leap, but if we as a city, state, country and world could apply the same community-minded principles and selflessness we enjoy in our birding “lives”, we would live in a better world.

As many of you know MRVAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. In honor of this milestone, we are holding a special event at Cedar Creek on July 8th. Many of you know about the great work that the Red-Headed Woodpecker Recover Project (RHWRP) does at Cedar Creek and we will be getting a “back-stage” look at their work. Specifically we’ll learn about their new project to track the migratory habits of this amazing bird. Next, we will tour the “closed-to-the-public” RHWP nesting areas. There is more information in the Trumpeter and on mrvac.org and I encourage all of you to attend. There is no charge but limited space. Send an email to gburnes@comcast.net to register.

Lastly, I am stepping down as MRVAC President. I want to thank all of you who support our wonderful organization and I am proud to have had a very small part in its success.

Elect 2017-18 Board Members

By Tracy Albinson | May 18, 2017
Trumpeter Swan
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator), Tom Koerner, USFWS

Please join us at the meeting on Thursday May 25 to vote on the slate of nine candidates for the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter board of directors. At present, here’s the list, but there may be last minute changes:

  • President: Matthew Schaut
  • Vice President: Steve Weston
  • Treasurer: Bob Williams
  • Secretary:
  • Members at Large: Becky Lystig, Ken Oulman, Greg Burnes, Rick Magee, Monica Rauchwarter, Bob Janssen

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.

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