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. 

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. You can help protect 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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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.

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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. 

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Tags:

2022 ACD TREE SALE

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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/

  550 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.

  324 Hits
Tags:

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:

  367 Hits

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
  404 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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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. 

  345 Hits

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. 

  448 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.

  477 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.

  460 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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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. 

  511 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.

  435 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

  602 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

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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. 

  523 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

  527 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

  613 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.

  612 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.

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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 construction sites received a DNR permit that allows for the 'Take of Endangered or Threatened Species Incidental to a Development Project.' As part of that permit, a compensatory mitigation is paid to fund activities that result in a net-benefit to the species. When the 'taking' or removing rare plants from a development project area is unavoidable, rare plant salvage is an alternative conservation practice undertaken to transplant those plants that would otherwise be destroyed. Jason Husveth, principal ecologist with CCES, credits the developer, The Excelsior Group, for helping to make this happen despite incurring addition time and cost.

While salvage of rare plant species occurs in many states, there is no established process for doing so in Minnesota. Critical Connections Ecological Services, Anoka Conservation District, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are seeking funding to develop an ongoing Rare Plant Salvage Program for Minnesota.

  1805 Hits

Look Out for Oriental Bittersweet

Now that there are no leaves on the trees, it is a good time to look for Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). This invasive species is on the ERADICATE list. It is a vine that girdles and smothers trees and shrubs. Look for the bright red fruit with yellow capsules.

Be sure to check your ID with the native American bittersweet, which has orange fruit capsules instead of yellow. American bittersweet fruits are found only at the end of the vine while Oriental bittersweet has fruit at the leaf axils.

  565 Hits

The Recovery of the Wild Turkey Population in Minnesota

Wild Turkey - MN DNR

Did you know that wild turkey had gone from a native population of millions of birds to being almost extirpated by 1900 in the United States?

The restoration of the American wild turkey is one of the greatest wildlife conservation success stories.

That success story began in 1973 in Minnesota. The MN DNR traded a flock of its homegrown ruffed grouse for 29 turkeys from Missouri. The Missouri-born birds were released in Houston County in southeastern Minnesota and the population grew rapidly. Many partnering turkey advocates aided in their return, including members of the National Wild Turkey Federation who helped transport the flocks to new habitats. The restoration of the wild turkey over the past 25 years is one of Minnesota's greatest conservation success stories. Once rare, today wild turkeys are becoming a common sight throughout southern and western and even central Minnesota.

Wild Turkeys live year-round in open forests with interspersed clearings. They nest on the ground in dead leaves at the bases of trees, under brush piles or thick shrubbery, or occasionally in open fields. Wild turkeys are omnivorous, and their diet changes by the season: in spring and summer, they eat insects, seeds, and leafy vegetation; in fall and winter, they eat tree nuts, seeds, and berries. They will also eat small amphibians and reptiles. Poults, young turkeys, feed heavily on insects.

The Anoka Conservation District with funds from the Outdoor Heritage Foundation and National Wild Turkey Foundation is enhancing turkey habitat at the Robert and Marilyn Burman WMA and Gordie Mikkelson WMA. Tree thinning and buckthorn removal will open the forest and promote oak regeneration. Acorns are a favorite fall food. Increased native plant diversity in the woodlands, savanna, and prairies will attract a diversity of insects, providing a high protein food source.

Give thanks to the many conservationists who worked to restore wild turkey populations and their habitat. 

  1660 Hits
Tags:

Top Ten Winter Bird Feeding Tips

White-Breasted Nuthatch

10. Make sure seed is accessible and dry. Hopper or tube feeders are good at protecting seed from wet weather. Sweep snow off of platform feeders, or clear a place on the ground where you can scatter seed for ground-feeding species such as sparrows, towhees, juncos, and doves.

9. Make a windbreak. Make a windbreak using your old Christmas tree or the remains of a brush pile. Consider planting shrubs next to your feeders where the birds can rest out of the wind and escape from predators. Consider clearing a small area of snow off the ground to scatter seed if it's too soft to support their weight.

8. Keep extra feeders for use in bad weather. We keep an extra-large-capacity tube feeder in the garage for use when nasty weather comes. It not only gives the birds another place to eat, which means more birds can eat at one time, but it also cuts down on our trips outside for refilling the feeders. Other extras to consider having: peanut feeder, suet feeder, satellite feeder (for the small birds to use), and a hopper feeder.

7. Scatter seed in sheltered places. Not all birds will venture to your feeder. Some species prefer to skulk in the thickets, brambles, and other secure places. For these species, consider scattering some seed (black-oil sunflower, sunflower bits, peanut bits, mixed seed) under your deck, in your hedges and bushes, or even along the edge of a wooded area. Dark-eyed juncos especially prefer to feed on food scattered on the ground along with tree sparrows and white-throated sparrows.

6. Put out high-energy foods such as suet, meat scraps, and peanut butter. Fat gives the biggest energy boost to winter birds and without enough energy to keep them going, many songbirds would not survive a cold winter night. Suet (the fat removed from processed beef), meat scraps, and peanut butter all provide fat to birds that eat them. If you don't have a suet feeder, use a mesh onion bag. Suspend it from a tree branch or iron feeder hook. To feed peanut butter, drill one-inch holes in a foot-long section of a small log. Insert a screw eye into one end of the log. Smear peanut butter into the holes and suspend the feeder from the screw eye. And, no, peanut butter will not stick to the roof of a bird's bill and choke it to death.

5. Use a birdbath heater wisely. A water heater can keep your birdbath open in the coldest of weather, which is good but place several large rocks in your bath so there is not enough room for a bird to bathe, but still plenty of places for a thirsty bird to get a drink. When the weather warms up you can remove the rocks and let your birds get on with their hygiene.

4. Offer mealworms in a heavy dish or small crock. Use a heavy dish so the wind can't blow the worms and dish away. This is a high protein snack that many birds enjoy and can be found in most feed stores. They are relatively expensive so use them sparingly on the coldest days or in the spring when an unexpected cold snap can leave migrants without much to eat.

3. Furnish your bird houses. Imagine you're a bird roosting in a nest box on a cold winter's night. Wouldn't it be nice to snuggle down into some dried grass or dry wood shavings in the bottom of the house? Layer three to four inches of clean dry meadow grass in the bottom of bluebird boxes after the last nesting of the summer. Wood shavings work well, too. Don't use sawdust, however; it can retain moisture once wet, which does not help the birds keep warm.

2. Plug the air vent holes in your bird houses with removable weather stripping. We use the claylike weather stripping that comes in a roll (Moretite is one brand) to plug the air vent holes in our bird houses. Good ventilation is necessary on a scorching summer day, but it's a real liability for birds seeking winter shelter. Think how cozy the birds will be in a well-sealed house.

1. Be ready for big changes in weather. If you keep abreast of the weather developments you'll know when bad weather is coming, and you'll be able to stock up on seed, suet, and other goodies. You can also be ready to take on some of the activities listed above. Conversely, when the weather breaks, take advantage by cleaning and disinfecting your feeders (one part bleach to nine parts hot water). Whatever you do, don't let yourself be caught totally unprepared for harsh winter weather. 

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Teaching Students about Natural Resources during a Pandemic

One activity that ACD does every year is take local high school students to streams near their schools to collect macroinvertebrates. Many of these organisms are the larval forms of many of our common insects. Think mosquitoes, mayflies, black flies, and dragon flies. Assessing the community of invertebrates living in a stream over time can give us a good indication of how healthy that stream is (i.e. how good the water quality is). This is because the different types of these invertebrates have varying levels of tolerance to polluted water. Some can only live in very clean water, while others can survive in very polluted water.

This exciting lesson combines a field trip to a stream and the opportunity to play in the water, with a lesson about the natural world and how we can use the biotic organisms living in those streams to monitor their health over time. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to think outside of the box to make this fun and important lesson happen in 2020. In the spring of 2020, we were not able to do this lesson with any schools, because all of them were full time distance learning, and we had never prepared a distance learning lesson before. This fall however, we got a little more creative.

I made a virtual lesson via Go Pro video with a teacher from the Forest Lake Area Learning Center and his sons. With Totino Grace and St. Francis High School students, we worked in small groups in the field with masks on, disinfecting all equipment between classes. We also had classes attend virtually while a teacher held the live feed camera up and talked to the students that were attending online. Overall, whether by recording, live video stream, or in person at the river respecting social distancing and mask wearing, just about 200 kids still got to take part in this activity from the three schools mentioned. It took a little more time and effort than usual, but in the end we made sure a large number of local students still got the opportunity to take part. 

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Anoka County is 100% Compliant with the MN Buffer Law

The Anoka Conservation District is proud to announce that Anoka County is now 100% compliant with the state's buffer law! The law was passed back in 2015 with the goal of improving water quality throughout the state by reducing pollutants entering public ditches and public waters. This milestone was achieved through strong partnerships between Anoka County, Anoka Conservation District, local landowners, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources. This achievement doesn't mean that the hard work is over but it does represent what is possible for the state of Minnesota when strong environmental policy is handled on the local level. It will be exciting to see the benefits to the state's water systems come to fruition after years of work.

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ACD Hard at Work Removing Carp from Martin Lake

The Anoka Conservation District has been hard at work this September removing invasive carp from Martin Lake, located in northeastern Anoka County. Martin Lake has had a large carp population over the years, which can be extremely detrimental to lake water quality if left unmanaged. This type of work isn't possible without strong partnerships between natural resource professionals and residents of the community. This project and the dedicated volunteers on Martin Lake are a shining example of the level of civic engagement that is achievable when these relationships are nurtured. Thank you volunteers!

Updates are also periodically posted here: Carp Harvests

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Buckthorn ID and Control

Late September through the end of October is a good time to inventory common buckthorn on your property. Common buckthorn leaves remain green longer than most Minnesota native trees and shrubs so they will stand out when other trees and shrubs are changing color and dropping leaves.

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) can invade wetlands. There are no thorns. Look for the rust colored terminal bud.

See the buckthorn fact sheet for tips to identify buckthorn, learn about native look-alikes, and find methods for controlling buckthorn.

For a safe way to treat buckthorn stumps, you can apply herbicide with buckthorn blasters/dobbers: https://landscape-restoration.com/

See the DNR's buckthorn management page for more information.

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Don't Feed the Deer!

In recent years the Minnesota DNR has been tracking the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in Minnesota deer. Chronic Wasting Disease (or CWD) is a neurological degenerative disease that causes the brains of deer (and other cervids) to deteriorate and become spongy. It ultimately leads to the death of the infected animal. While a direct link to human infection by CWD through contact with or consumption of infected deer has not been recorded, other similar diseases do affect humans.

The larger concern for now is the spread of the disease through Minnesota deer populations. The positive test rates of CWD have been historically low in Minnesota, but positive tests do keep occurring in new areas. CWD can spread from deer to deer through direct or indirect contact. The prions, or infectious agents of CWD, can be spread through deer saliva, urine, feces, blood, and even antler velvet. Concentrating numerous deer in one area greatly increases the chances that the disease can spread through the local population and keep spreading outward from there. Deer feeders, salt licks, and other attractants concentrate deer to an area and increase the likelihood of the disease spreading.

The MN DNR is implementing feeding and attractant bans in and around areas where CWD has been found. Anoka County is not yet included on the ban list for either of these activities, but it is surrounded on all sides by counties that are. Now is the time to be proactive. We all love to watch the deer in our yard, local parks, and wildlife areas, especially the spotted fawns in the spring. Many of us also enjoy watching for a set of antlers on a chilly fall morning from a tree stand. Stopping the use of deer feed and attractants now will help ensure that we can continue to watch and marvel at these majestic animals into the future.

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Know Your Shoreline

If you live on water, whether it be a lake, river, creek, or stormwater pond, low water during the summer months can provide a great opportunity for you to conduct a quick inspection of your shoreline condition. The very bottom of your shoreline, where it meets the water, is called the toe and is the most critical part for stability.

Low water often exposes the toe of the slope and allows you to identify areas of concern. For example, you might observe undercutting, where the lowest portion of the bank has been scoured away by flowing water or wave action. When problems are caught early, the solutions are often much simpler and cheaper. Addressing erosion concerns early also helps prevent more severe bank failures down the road.

Another good time to inspect your bank is in the fall once leaves have fallen and before snowfall. You can inspect the upper portions of your bank for problems like rutting from concentrated overland flow over the top of the bank.

If you have any questions about your shoreline or think a site visit may be warranted, please contact ACD staff. We're here to help. 

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Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Many invasive species are now beginning to develop mature seed. Here are some ways you can do your part to prevent spreading their seed:

  • Avoid mowing invasive species with seed. Seed will travel with the mower and likely remain on the mower to be spread into new areas.
  • Beware of seeds found on your boots or clothing. They may be in the mud between your boot treads or attached to your clothes like Velcro. Use a boot brush to clean your boots and check for seeds on your clothing.
  • Seeds may also attached to treads on bikes, ATV, and stroller tires. Spray down tires to remove mud and plant parts.


Invasive plants can harm ecosystems and choke out beneficial native plants. Always be vigilant to prevent the spread of invasive species!

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What can I do with my wetland?

Whether you call it a swamp, marsh, or low area, it is most likely a wetland and it is most likely regulated by someone.

ExcavatingAnoka County residents frequently inquire how to improve their land for waterfowl or other wildlife. A common practice in Anoka County is pond excavations in seasonally saturated areas, or cattail-choked wetlands to provide an open water habitat. The Wetland Conservation Act regulates excavations in the permanently and semi-permanently flooded areas of type 3, 4, or 5 wetlands and also regulates the placement of spoil and the depth of the excavation in all types of wetlands. Other jurisdictions including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may have regulatory authority on wetland excavation projects.

DrainingThere is potential for pond excavations to drain adjacent wetland areas. Typically, in Anoka County, if the hydrology is predominantly groundwater driven, a pond excavation can be designed that will not drain adjacent wetlands. However, there is an increased likelihood that a pond excavation will drain adjacent wetlands when wetlands hydrology is primarily surface water, or when the excavation is connected to a drainage ditch. This is an issue that is best addressed by your local government or the Anoka Conservation District during review of a specific project.

Filling: Filling of wetlands must be avoided during pond excavations. The spoil from the excavation must be placed in an upland area. A qualified wetland professional may be needed to ensure that the destination of the spoil is upland.

Proper erosion control practices must be incorporated as well. If you have questions, contact the Anoka Conservation District for assistance. Contact us.

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Spurge Euphorbia esula MN Noxious Weed: Prohibited – Control

  • 1-2 foot tall
  • Greenish-yellow flower bracts
  • Simple and opposite leaves
  • A white, milky sap exudes if the stem or leaves are cut
  • Grows in full to part sun in range of soil types and moisture

If you see leafy spurge, please report it on EDDMaps: www.eddmaps.org/

For more information and control methods see:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/leafyspurge.html

https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge

Biological control is an option for reducing large infestations of leafy spurge. Adult leafy spurge beetles (Aphthona lacertosa) feed on the leaves and lay eggs at the base of spurge plants. Larvae feed on the roots over the winter until they pupate and emerge as adults the following summer. See: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge/leafyspurge

Photo at Anoka Nature Preserve. 7.3.2019
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Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt is becoming an increasing problem throughout the State and kills off a large number of oaks every year. Even though oak wilt is active in a large area of Minnesota, effective management techniques exist.

Oak wilt in a healthy tree will begin wilting the canopy. This usually starts at the top of the tree and spreads downward. The tree then sheds leaves, which will begin individually wilting at the edges and spread towards the midrib of the leaf or at the leaf tip and wilt towards the stem. A discoloration or streaking of the wood just below the bark may also be present.

In Red Oaks, the deterioration process can take as little as 4 weeks. In White Oaks, the disease may come back every year but death of the tree could take up to 5 years or longer after the initial symptoms appear.

Healthy oak trees are usually infected by the fungus's ability to move underground through the roots of nearby trees that have grafted together. In general, trees more than 50 feet apart are less likely to be infected through grafted roots. Sap beetles also transport the disease above ground by moving from an infected tree to a healthy one.

Stopping the spread of oak wilt is possible. Breaking root connections between closely spaced oaks will reduce the chance of the disease spreading from infected trees to nearby healthy ones. This takes a specialized piece of equipment and can be difficult to achieve. This is way preventing infection in the first place is the recommended best management practice.

Even though the nice weather makes you want to head outside and work on your property, you should avoiding pruning and wounding healthy oaks in the spring and summer. Between April and July, oak trees are at a much higher risk of infection by sap beetles who are attracted to fresh wounds in the bark of oak trees and may be carrying the fungus. Oak trees should be assessed for storm damage and any wound should immediately be sealed with a water-based paint of another type of plant sealer.

Other techniques to stop the spread of oak wilt include; avoid moving firewood from known infected areas, timely removal and disposal of infected trees, and the use of fungicide when necessary. Many times multiple approaches are necessary to slow or eradicate the problem. Meeting with a local tree care providers can help create a management plan that will be effective on your property.

If you have more questions or are concerned about Oak Trees in your area, contact a local professional to inquire about what can be done on your property. Early detection is still the best method of control.

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Trim Oak Trees now to Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt


Oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. Oak wilt can be spread in two ways: 1) fungal spores travelling tree to tree through grafted roots, and 2) fungal spores spread by sap beetles that fly from infected trees or wood to healthy trees. The beetles are attracted to fresh wounds in healthy trees, and these wounds offer an introduction point for the fungus.Trimming or cutting healthy oaks from the months of November through March helps to prevent fresh wounds in healthy trees when the beetles are active. Trimming away dead and dying branches during this period can help prevent oak wilt spreading from neighboring areas to your trees. If your oak trees still need trimming before this spring, be sure to do it before the end of March. April 1 through July 15 is considered the high risk period, and all trimming of oaks should be avoided. July 15 through October 31 is considered low risk, but spread is still possible. Red oaks and pin oaks are especially susceptible to oak wilt, and once infected, a healthy tree is killed within ​months.

Unfortunately, oak wilt is very common in Anoka County. More information on prevention of the disease in your yard can be found at https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/oak-wilt-minnesota
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Stop the Spread of GARLIC MUSTARD


Garlic Mustard / Alliaria petiolata

An invasive Species you can eat.

Garlic mustard is a highly aggressive invasive species, growing in woodlands and woodland edges. It is one of the first invasive species to emerge and flowers in May – June. It is a biennial forb, producing a basal rosette the first year and bolting to produce an elongated stalk, flowers and seed in the second year. Since garlic mustard is a biennial the main goal is to prevent the plant from going to seed. The best way to control garlic mustard is to hand pull the entire plant (including the roots). If flowers or seed pods are present, it is necessary to compost at a facility that composts at high heat. Plants can produce viable seed even after pulled.

Garlic Mustard is edible and has medicinal uses

Garlic mustard leaves are available very early in the spring as soon as the ground begins to warm. Like all greens, leaves taste better when leaves are young and before the plant has bolted. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild garlic and mustard flavor.

Popular recipes include:

  • garlic mustard potato salad
  • wilted greens in stir fry
  • tabbouleh
  • garlic mustard pesto

Medicinal properties of garlic mustard leaves and stems: antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary (Grieve 1984 and Chiej 1984). Greens are high in Vitamin A and C.

Important! Never eat wild plants unless you are certain about identification. Some plants are poisonous. Know the site rules about harvesting plants on public and private lands. Determine past management of the area. Don't consume plants from areas that were treated with herbicides.

Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9

Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5

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You don't want to be underneath this mistletoe: the Eastern Spruce Dwarf Mistletoe


by Fred Baker, Emeritus Professor and Forest Pathologist, Utah State University

Eastern spruce dwarf mistletoe is a disease that kills trees quickly, with most trees dying within 20 years. In Minnesota, this mistletoe typically affects black spruce, an important species to the state's forest products industry and landscape.

The dwarf mistletoe disrupts a tree's physiology in incredible ways. The most common sign is the formation of a witches' broom. In this process, the disease diverts the tree's nutrients to the broom and "starves" the rest of the tree. Ultimately, the tree will die because it's unable to process the lipids it needs to survive.

Witches brooms in a dwarf mistletoe-infested black spruce stand. Photo: Brian Anderson.

Dwarf mistletoe is a parasite. It flowers in March and is a safe bet to be the first "plant" to flower in the spring. Seed dispersal happens in late August and early September. When seeds disperse, dwarf mistletoes are unique because they can shoot their seeds up to 55 feet from a diseased tree! These seeds are covered with a sticky substance that attaches to a nearby spruce needle. During summer rainfall, this sticky substance rehydrates, and the seeds slide closer to the twig, where it germinates the following spring.

Although dwarf mistletoe can shoot seeds up to 55 feet, most only go a few feet. This results in a spread rate of about 2.4 feet per year through a forest stand. Research indicates that spread from large trees and small trees is about the same. Slightly more than half the spruce stands in Minnesota are thought to be infected with dwarf mistletoe.

Mistletoes are obligate parasites. This means that if you kill the tree, the parasite dies too. If timber harvesting is done in black spruce, removing all spruce trees during a harvest could minimize the risk of mistletoe infecting a future stand.

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Landscaping for Wildlife

This may not seem like the time of year to be planning for habitat improvements on your property, but if you want to take advantage of good prices on bare root trees and shrubs, now is the time to order. Anoka Conservation District's annual tree sale is a great place to start.

When asked by property owners what they can do to attract wildlife to their property, I start with the basic; 1) minimize mowing, and 2) provide food, water, shelter, and plenty of space.


Food: Flowers, fruit, buds, twigs, seeds, nectar, and foliage are food for many of our local birds, insects, and small mammals. These little critters are in turn, food for larger animals. If you build from the bottom up, and create habitat for the smallest creatures, the larger ones will follow and your habitat will be more stable. Planting trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and grasses will all get you heading in the right direction. Use native species to ensure they attract wildlife from this area.

Water: If you have a natural water source, like a pond, wetland, lake or river, you are all set. Flowing water attracts the most wildlife, but still water works well too. If you plan to add an artificial water source, everything from a simple bird bath to a fancy water feature like a lined pond with flowing water and pump, will bring in everything from birds and butterflies, to frogs and deer.


Shelter: Shelter comes in natural and manufactured forms. Bird and bat houses are options, as are wood or rock piles. Consider leaving fallen trees to lay on the ground or dead standing trees to remain, if they aren't a safety concern. Plant trees and shrubs for nesting. Even tall native grasses provide good cover for deer and birds to bed down in.

Space: Animals have varied needs in terms of space. Some defend large areas while others live in harmony with close neighbors. Whether or not you have a small urban oasis or 40 acres of wild open space, if you provide food, water, and shelter, it will attract wildlife to fill the available space. Curb your expectations to the limits of your property and do a little research on any particular species you are hoping to draw in.

Some landscape features you may want to consider:

  • butterfly gardens
  • frog ponds
  • native prairie gardens
  • shrub groves
  • rock or brush piles
  • bird baths
  • feeders
  • pollinator garden
  • hummingbird garden

For a complete brochure on the topic, visit;  https://www.anokaswcd.org/index.php/backyard-habitat.html

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ACD Receives Funding for Weed Management Grants

ACD received funding from BWSR to continue the Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area program and received two sources of MDA funding for Anoka County invasive species control and for Metro-wide non-native Phragmites treatment.

The Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area Program currently consists of 27 Partners who have identified priority invasive species of concern, locations and activities in Anoka County. ACD received the maximum funding of $15,000 to be utilized in three years. Renewal/BWSR Request for Proposals are offered every two years. Current BWSR funds will support:

  • mapping and monitoring priority invasive species on EDDMaps,
  • surveys in select high quality habitats,
  • implementation of biocontrol release,
  • monitoring past treatment,
  • training a new partner, Anoka County Highway staff on invasive species identification and treatment, including wild parsnip sites identified on Anoka Highway ROW,
  • organizing and creating outreach material and expanding the ACWMA website to provide a central location for ACWMA resources,
  • provide outreach and engagement with City Staff, residents, and volunteers,
  • and, provide technical and financial resources for invasive species cost share program for priority invasive species and priority locations.

ACD received the maximum funding from MDA Level 1, $10,000, to be spent in 2020. These funds will increase the capacity of the ACWMA efforts and specifically support:

  • Invasive species trainings and volunteer engagement in invasive species control in Anoka County, including a training to Anoka County Master Gardeners in April 2020.
  • Mapping and monitoring priority invasive species and surveys in high quality habitats.
  • Release knapweed root weevil (Cyphocleonus achates) and knapweed flower weevils (Larinus minutus obtusus) biocontrol at two sites.
  • Provide training to Anoka County Highway to identify and control priority invasive species, starting with wild parsnip by June 2020.
  • Treat all known populations of wild parsnip in Anoka County by July 2020.
  • Follow up treatment of golden creeper with digging out roots and June 2020 and herbicide application of any remaining plants by September 2020.
  • Conduct a land management and invasive speices workshop to City of Blaine residents in September 2020. By mid-November 2020, provide technical and financial support for buckthorn treatment to landowners adjacent to the Blaine Wetland Sancturary, treating 12 acres of buckthorn. I'm collaborating with Rebecca Haug/City of Blaine, Beth Carreno/RCWD and Metro Blooms.

ACD received $49,705 from MDA Level 2 to be spent over two years to map, treat, and monitor non-native Phragmites in the Metro. Metro County Partners will continue mapping and will obtain permission from landowners to treat with herbicide and mowing. ACD will coordinate monitoring following MN DNR protocols, will hire a contractor for treatment, and lead native planting/restoration at Sunrise Lake which was previously treated.

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Lawns to Legumes in Anoka County

The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the cities of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, and Andover, were awarded $40,000 from the Board of Water and Soil Resources to establish a Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Neighborhood in the Mississippi and Rum River Corridor. The project will convert residential lawns into pollinator habitat in support of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other at-risk pollinators. Residents interested in being part of a Demonstration Neighborhood in Anoka County should complete this form: bit.ly/lawns-legumes-anoka

In addition, there are several other ways to get involved:

  • 1.Visit the Board of Water and Soil Resources website to learn more and download free resources: bwsr.state.mn.us/L2L
  • 2.Sign up for a Lawns to Legumes Workshop near you: bluethumb.org/events (Landowner workshop will be scheduled in Anoka County in summer of 2020)
  • 3.All residents may be eligible for individual mini-grant funding up to $350. Apply here: bluethumb.org/lawns-to-legumes

If you have any questions about how the Lawns to Legumes Program will work in Anoka County or how you can be involved, please reach out! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Leaving a Legacy on the Land through Easements

Written by: Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager

When I was young, there was a woodlot in the neighborhood where kids, including me, roamed. It was along the river, where there were frogs to be caught. We built forts. We played games. It felt like 100 acres, but in hindsight was probably just a few. That natural area was, apart from the people, a most memorable part of the neighborhood.

What's the best part of your neighborhood? Perhaps it's a woodlot on your own property. Or a wetland the provides a little privacy. Or just a few big mature trees. We get joy from living in natural surroundings big or small. When these things are lost, the neighborhood seems to sigh in disappointment (and some folks get downright upset).

Conservation easements are one tool available to landowners who want to ensure their land is kept natural for the long term, as a legacy for the community. Conservation easements pay landowners in exchange for a restriction on certain types of changes, such as clearing and building, to the land in the future. The easement runs with the land and applies to future owners.

The newest easement program available in Anoka County focuses on properties along the Rum River. Riverbank properties are critical to the scenic and recreational qualities of the river, as well as the river's ecological quality. The program pays 60% of the assessed value of the land. You set the easement boundaries. You retain ownership. The land does not become open to the public.

Easements are purchased strategically. While many lands are eligible, not all are competitive candidates. Those that score highest are parts of larger high quality natural areas and will not become "islands" within development. Easements should help retain community character and be consistent with anticipated growth.

If you are interested in having your land considered for a conservation easement, please contact Carrie Taylor at 763-434-2030 ext. 19 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  1307 Hits