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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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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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. 

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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 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.

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