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.
- ACD native tree, shrub, and seed sale: https://www.anokaswcd.org/tree-sale-order-forms/instructions.html
- MNDNR lists of native plant suppliers and landscapers: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/gardens/nativeplants/suppliers.html
- Native plant lists and planting tips: https://extension.umn.edu/find-plants/native-plants
- Invasive plant identification and management: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/index.html
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.
- MPCA lawn and garden care tips for a healthy environment: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/living-green/yard-and-garden
- Achieving a sustainable lawn: https://doitgreen.org/topics/gardening/achieving-sustainable-lawn/
- Pollinator-friendly pest control: https://xerces.org/sites/default/files/2019-09/19-034_01_Protecting%20Pollinators%20at%20Home_web.pdf
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.
- MNDNR Natural Resources Education Opportunities: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/education/index.html
- University of Minnesota Extension courses and events: https://extension.umn.edu/courses-and-events?search=&end_date=&start_date=&subject%5B676%5D=676&page=1
- MN Zoo backyard science and conservation opportunities: https://mnzoo.org/educator-corner/conservation-citizen-science/
- MPCA citizen science: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/citizen-water-monitoring
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.
- Anoka County financial and technical assistance opportunities: https://www.anokaswcd.org/financial-technical-assistance.html
- Statewide grant options: https://mn.gov/grants/#/list/appId/0/filterType/Tag/filterValue/Natural%20Resources/page/1/sort//order/