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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28 Hits

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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65 Hits

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.

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168 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.

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183 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.

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159 Hits