Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Golf, Gangsters, and Great Blue Heron

On the green in 1957 for the St. Paul Open Golf Tournament.

In 1931, a couple of years after the course opened, undercover FBI agents were suddenly attracted to Keller Golf Course (GC), not for the fabulous golfing, but for its notorious golf patrons. Legend has it that the infamous bank robber, John Dillinger, would frequent the course with two golf bags – one with clubs and the other filled with machine guns. Young caddies would earn generous tips for toting the extra firepower. There are even tales of cagey gangsters being chased off the course by federal marshals, leaving their clubs, and jumping on a nearby train for a getaway.

Well, even if these gangster stories seem a bit farfetched, everyone can agree that Keller GC enjoys an incredibly robust golf history. It has played host to a PGA tour stop, the St. Paul Open for 38 years, two National PGA Championships, and the Ladies PGA Tour nine times. On top of the tournaments, the course has been a local favorite for tens of thousands of recreational golfers for nearly a century.

In 1996, Superintendent Paul Diegnau, had a vision to minimize the golf course’s impact on the environment, striking a balance with the landscape and restoring and preserving its unique natural features. Over the years, Diegnau has been committed to preserving the top-flight golf experience, and at the same time, establishing an “urban nature preserve” on the property. “I have been able to implement a variety of management practices that have multiple benefits – to the course and to the natural environment,” he says.

Ten years ago, the Watershed’s Landscape Ecology Awards Program (LEAP for short) recognized Paul’s work and presented him with top honors in the commercial-government land category. Through the awards process, Diegnau had a chance to get to know Bill Bartodziej, a Natural Resources Specialist with the Watershed. “Paul is one of our local leaders that have stepped up to try some innovative practices. The LEAP Award opened the door for the Watershed and Keller GC to really start discussing partnership possibilities,” Bartodziej said.

Sean Uslabar, Ramsey County Corrections Greenhouse Manager,
helps seed prairie areas in the Keller restoration.
Over the last several years, Paul and Bill have been systematically restoring no-play areas on the course. This land provides critical habitat on the course, improves water infiltration, and composes an important ecological connection in the Phalen Chain of Lakes corridor. Cliff Aichinger, RWMWD Administrator, says “what happens on Keller GC is especially important considering its close proximity to the Phalen Chain, the most prominent series of lakes in our watershed.”

This spring, the Watershed and Ramsey County received funding from the Ramsey Conservation District to restore seven acres of no-play area. A Phase II project, slated for next year, will likely treat another seven acres. Project sites included pond and wetlands buffer areas, prairie, and woodlands. “This will likely be the number one golf course in the Metro area that supports such large expanses of high quality natural areas.” Bartodziej said.

Jerry Horgan (foreground) and Don Vegoe (background), both Ramsey County Master Gardeners, help students put in native plants in a new restoration area below the 12th tee complex.  The newly-renovated club house can be seen in the far background.

Diegnau was pleased that this restoration project coincided with major golf course and clubhouse renovations. The course shut down in the fall of 2012 and is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2014. Having the course closed made it easier to bring in materials, work trucks, and work crews for the ecological restoration. As with most large restoration projects, the Watershed partnered with Ramsey County Corrections work crews. In addition, students from Farnsworth Aerospace 5-8 School and the French Immersion School had a chance to plant plugs in one of the prairie restoration areas. Updates on the course renovation can be found at: http://kellerrenovation.blogspot.com.

Keller GC is an excellent example of effectively mixing land uses with the goal of improving natural resources. Very soon, golfers will hit long drives on the newly seeded, lush and green bentgrass fairways, and then grab a cold drink in the newly renovated clubhouse. But wait, there is a rare bonus. The urban golf experience will be maximized at Keller by providing a tranquil, intriguing, and very dynamic setting. The natural habitat areas hold soils in place, filter runoff, and attract an amazing diversity of wildlife. Next summer, golfers will view acres of prairie flowers in bloom and wildlife in action - great blue heron searching for elusive frogs, a curious juvenile fox pawing at a golf ball, and mamma wood ducks herding their young through the lush stands of native shoreline vegetation. Get ready for an unbelievable outdoor experience!

The restoration at Keller Golf Course's water feature on the 6th hole looks amazing with the late fall colors. 
Photo by Bill Bartodziej.

To see the student planting activities associated with Keller Golf Course this week, see our article Mending the Pot.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mending the Pot

by Tracy Leavenworth, District Education Consultant

Prior to their restoration planting efforts, all six classrooms participated in lessons to prepare them for the experience. Weaving in with their studies of ecology in science class, I presented a slide show that vividly displayed the various ways humans alter their environment.
Mending the broken pot.

During an emotionally teachable moment, I took a terra cotta pot, beautifully painted with a lovely riparian natural scene, and broke it in front of the students. “Some people want to put a shopping mall here,” I told them. Wide-eyed, and open-mouthed, to whispers of “She broke that pot! I can’t believe she broke that pot!” the students were effectively stunned. They shot their hands into the air when I asked them if anyone would like to work to restore it. Several students were given a paper plate and glue, and as I continued with the lesson, they worked together to restore the pot.

At the end of the lesson, the restorers were asked to give their reflections:

“It was hard.”
“It was like putting a puzzle back together.”
“It looks pretty good, but not quite like it did before.”
I added that it was likely that Bill and Simba and the other folks at the Watershed District who do restoration plantings would probably have similar reflections about their own experiences.

The lesson completed with a shift to their upcoming planting at Keller Lake Golf Course; I told the students that they all have the power to make a difference, to help restore natural ecosystems, and to chose a lifestyle where they can live in harmony with the land rather than destroy it. The energy in the room was palpable!

 Getting Their Hands Dirty

The future prairie buffer will add beautiful contrast to the surrounding turf.
Simba Blood, District Natural Resources Technician, teaches the students
proper planting techniques.
Laurie Holmberg, Ramsey County Master Gardener, helps a 5th grader
plant prairie natives.
High on a hillside overlooking Keller Lake in late October, 7th and 8th graders from Farnsworth Aerospace science and 5th graders from L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion School gathered together to put something back that had been lost over time. 
Keller Golf Course, once an oak savanna dotted with wetlands was getting a face lift. With trowels and plant plugs, these St. Paul students had the opportunity to make the shattered pot lesson real by assisting the Watershed District in a prairie restoration with support from Natural Resources Technician, Simba Blood, her interns, Janna and Tessa , six Ramsey County Master Gardeners and a few parent volunteers by their sides. 
Paul Diegnau, Keller Golf Course Superintendent explains how he integrates
golf course management with habitat restoration and management.
Paul Diegnau, the Golf Course Superintendent came out and greeted each class and described the care the golf course takes to protect nearby Keller Lake. He explained their irrigation methods and mentioned the features on the site that provide habitat and food for birds, animals and butterflies. He told the students that the Keller Lake eagles who nest above Highway 36 regularly spend time there and that the golf course was a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
This student was also a powerhouse
worker at the Ames Lake spring cleanup.  No
wonder he needs two trowels!

Talk about making a difference!

Don Vegoe, Ramsey County Master Gardener, digs in to help
teach students how to properly transplant plant plugs. 

[For more on the Keller Golf Course Restoration, see our previous post this month, Golf, Gangsters, and Great Blue Heron]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Honoring Outstanding Landscapes & Watershed Excellence

Beautiful awards were hand crafted and designed by local artist, Aaron Dysart.
Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District volunteers, partners and staff gathered on November 14 to honor 2013 Landscape Ecology Award Program (LEAP) winners and the celebrate the first-annual Watershed Excellence Awards.
We are very proud to announce the winners from these two categories (in no particular order)

Landscape Ecology Awards

Since 2002, LEAP has recognized private residences and public and commercial properties that preserve and improve water quality and natural resources. The City of Shoreview, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Woodbury, and homeowners in St. Paul, Little Canada and Maplewood received awards this year.

  • St. Paul resident Karri Bitner of 2280 Case Ave. E, lives on a one-acre lot near Beaver Lake with her husband and two children. A horticulturalist, Karri has developed a love for insects that pollinate and control pests. The family’s yard includes asters, bee balm and coneflowers that attract beneficial insects, and Karri’s passion for habitat has rubbed off on her children, who have each created and maintain a garden plot.
Left: Karri Bitner at her award-winning property.  Right: LEAP Team members Phyllis Hunter
and Dana Larsen-Ramsay present Karri with a yard sign (one of many fabulous prizes)  
  • Becky Brenner and Steve Van Allen of 2879 Arcade St. in Little Canada converted their steeply sloped front yard to a native garden dotted with decorative rocks that attract birds and butterflies and control erosion. For Becky it was not hard to make the change. “I was doing all the mowing and wrestling with it,” she said. “I’m not a fan of turf grass and want to show alternative ways to landscape our yards.”

Left: Becky wasn't a fan of turf grass, or of mowing the hill, so she got creative. 
Right: Becky and Steve accept their award.

  • Mary Leigh and Joel Sabean inherited a water problem when they purchased their home at 2413 Hillwood Dr. E in Maplewood. Their steeply sloped backyard was dominated by invasive buckthorn and ponded water in the spring. They worked with a landscaper to create a natural landscape, removing the buckthorn and other invasive vegetation, planting native grasses, flowers and shrubs and adding a 700-square-foot shady rain garden. They also redirected their downspouts into dry creek beds that lead to the large rain garden.
Left: A dry creek bed helps guide runoff into the rain garden. 
Right: Mary Leigh and Joel accept their award.

  • The City of Shoreview, represented by Volunteer Coordinator Kent Peterson and volunteer Karen Eckman, was recognized for its native plantings at the Haffeman Pavilion. An Eagle Scout started the project in 2008 with a native buffer strip along Brennan’s Pond. When the scout went off to college, city volunteers stepped in to maintain the buffer and add native plant gardens. The strong focus on native plants brought in a wealth of wildlife—great spangled fritillary butterflies, tree frogs, bumble bees and many birds. The city hosts summer concerts at the pavilion each week, and with the project’s signage and the eye-catching landscape, Kent notes, “we have the opportunity to educate the public.”
    Left: A former Eagle Scout project, the shoreline of Brennan's Pond has been adopted by city volunteers. 
    Right: Kent Peterson and Karen Eckman accept their award.

  • Trinity Presbyterian Church at 2125 Tower Dr in Woodbury has catalyst Barb Outcelt to thank for their ever-growing landscape projects. Encouraged by the City of Woodbury with a $500 grant, the church installed a small rain garden a few years back. When that project proved successful, they installed a large 750 square-foot, showy, manicured rain garden, funded in part through the Watershed District’s Best Management Practices (BMP) Incentive Cost Share Program. The newest addition is a patio with pervious pavers and a cistern that captures stormwater. “We are a small church with about 250 members,” Barb said. “We could not have done the rain garden without the Cost Share Program.”


Watershed Excellence Awards

Awardees with District board members.
This new award program honors the accomplishments of exceptional “leaders” that are improving the health of the watershed.

  • Jack Frost was awarded the Roger Lake Stewardship Excellence Award, named for the 30-year Watershed District leader who passed away last December. A fitting first recipient of this award, Jack has had a long dedicated career as a public servant and Manager of the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District. Jack’s innovative, practical approaches to water quality and flood control, service as the Board Treasurer and excellent financial management contributed enormously to the Watershed District’s effectiveness.
Left: When he was not helping us make important decisions, Jack (in blue) helped host countless events.
Right: Cliff Aichinger, District Administrator, presents Jack with this lifetime-achievement award.

  • Sherry Brooks, Science and Technology Specialist at Farnsworth Aerospace in St. Paul won the Youth Engagement Award for her years of hands-on science education work with K-4 students. Her classes designed, planted and now care for the school’s native demonstration garden. With her help they continue to grow hundreds of plants for neighborhood rain gardens, BMP projects and school demonstration gardens in the district. Sherry is also very active in supporting non-point source education for her classes, engaging students at WaterFest and promoting awareness about the water-friendly features at Maplewood Mall.
Left: A fantastic butterfly garden outside Farnsworth School is just one of Sherry's many projects.  Middle: Demonstrating how water runs off surfaces on a watershed model.  Right: Receiving the Youth Engagement Award.

  • University of Minnesota graduate students Justine Koch and Reid Swanson received the “Carpie” Award that recognizes individuals who have enthusiastically persevered in the face of adversity. All hours of the day and night you can find them conducting surveillance and simultaneously masterminding many technical hurdles in pursuit of the monumental goal of helping the District determine how to manage carp and their impacts on water quality.
Left: Justine holds up one of the oldest carp they've found in the Phalen Chain to date.  Middle: Justine and Reid are presented with the Carpie award.  Right: Reid pulls migrating carp out of a trap net.

  • The City of Maplewood was honored with the Innovation in Government Award for adopting a Living Streets policy and implementing a model project in the Bartelmy/Meyer neighborhood to add “green” enhancements during street reconstruction. Through the project, streets were narrowed from 32 to 24 feet wide, sidewalks were added, 32 rain gardens and one regional infiltration garden were installed and 200 drought-resistant boulevard trees were planted.

Left: Sidewalks, rain gardens, and narrowed streets are just a few of the features installed in Maplewood that benefit both neighborhood and local waters.  Right:  Steve Love, City Engineer, accepts the award on behalf of the City of Maplewood.

  • Maplewood resident and LEAP award winner Mary Leigh Sabean received the Citizen Engagement Award in honor of her strong role in advocating for water quality improvements. Her neighborhood garden parties to promote the District’s BMP Incentive Cost Share Program and native habitat restoration have resulted in four new rain gardens and several native plantings for habitat. She also notified the City of Maplewood about drainage problems on private lands and collaborated with the city to install three rain gardens on parkland.
Left: When she's not hosting rain garden parties for the neighborhood, Mary Leigh tends to her native plantings, rain gardens and dry creek bed.  Right: Mary Leigh accepts the award for Citizen Engagement.

  • Simon Properties, owner of Maplewood Mall, was selected for the Outstanding Partner Award for the Maplewood Mall Volume Reduction Retrofit Project. For the past five years, the District has worked with Mall management staff and headquarters, tenants, anchor stores and maintenance staff to retrofit the property with stormwater management features while beautifying the site. Tree trenches have created parking lot groves, rain gardens frame the parking lot and main entrance, and a cistern collects some of the roof runoff. These all work to accomplish the goal of treating the first inch of rainfall runoff from the entire site to improve water quality of Kolman Lake and the remainder of the Phalen Chain of Lakes. This project is the first major mall retrofit in the country and has attracted national and international attention.
Left: Maplewood Mall was retrofitted to include several artistically-designed stormwater management features.  Right: Jennifer Lewis and Tim Pozner accept the award on behalf of Simon Properties.

If you know of people or projects that are making a difference in the watershed, let the District know about it! Nominations for the 2014 LEAP awards will be due July 1, 2014. For details visit www.rwmwd.org and click on the Natural Resources Program. Candidates for the Excellence awards can be suggested to Watershed District staff, which will review suggestions with the Citizen Advisory Commission.

We leave you with a few more shots from the Recognition Dinner.  A big thank you to those who attended, and to Anita Jader, LEAP Team member and photographer at the event!

Over 100 guests gathered for dinner, conversation, and awards.

One of our newest board members, Jen Oknich.

Our recently retired board member, and winner of the Roger Lake Stewardship Excellence Award, Jack Frost.  

LEAP Team members from left to right:  Phyllis Hunter, Gail Acosta, Glenda Mooney, Dana Larson-Ramsay and
Anita Jader.  

Our fantastic welcoming crew, left to right: Nicole Soderholm (District Inspector), Paige Ahlborg (District Project Manager) and Shelly Melser (District Secretary).

Toddlers are not really big fans of awards ceremonies.

Marion Seabold, one of our favorite local historians.

Cecilia Shiller, artist creating the next art installment at Maplewood Mall (photo of her prototype below)

Dinner is served.

District Administrator, Cliff Aichinger and Board President Paul Ellefson.

A prototype of the new sculpture to be installed at Maplewood Mall in 2014.

Farnsworth current and retired teachers, principal, and student.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do You Have My Eagle? - Round Lake Residents Restore

By Sage Passi
The Round Lake Restoration Ring Leaders: Darlene Cochran (left) and Jane Johnson (right)

I recently interviewed Darlene Cochran and Jane Johnson, the two resident ring leaders who instigated the Round Lake Shoreline restoration project in Little Canada. I knew I had hit the jackpot in my interview with them when this question popped into my head. 

“What did you do in your life to prepare you for this project?”

“Do You Have My Eagle?” is the question Jane shot back at me. Her response caught me off guard. Like a bird of prey tracking a fish or a small mammal, I did a double-take, swiveling my head in reaction to this unusual inquiry. Clearly this was a clue about Jane’s motivation for getting involved in the restoration project at Round Lake.

Jane Johnson, former president of the Round Lake
Townhome Association.

Jane told me she once worked for a lab at the University of Minnesota Department of Avian Physiology and Pharmacology on the St. Paul campus, the predecessor to the current Raptor Center.

“Do you have my eagle?” was the question Jane would throw out to the loading dock workers each time she’d drive out to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to pick up an injured eagle or other raptor that she’d then drive back to the research lab at the U of M in a truck borrowed from the Minnesota DNR. Sometimes she would even bring her five year old along on the trip. Imagine what the airport employees thought when this young woman showed up with kid in tow requesting her “package – a live eagle!

The Round Lake Townhome Trail Association shoreline
restoration project, completed in the fall of 2013.

Now due to her restoration efforts perhaps the eagles may show up on her doorstep!

Jane told me she also took trips out to Willmar during the late 70’s to pick up young live turkeys to bring back to the lab for further study. I did another double take when I heard this and offered a story of my own, 

“I grew up in Willmar. Those turkeys are what drove me out of town,” I joked. The smell from the turkey factory was so bad that I left Willmar and went to college at the University. I couldn’t bring myself to do any more lab or field experiments on animals after my 6 month internship with badgers at Cedar Creek so I decided I would be much more comfortable working with plants.”  That’s how I got to where I am now, helping you with this project.” 
"The smell of the turkey drove me out of town,"
joked Sage Passi, Watershed Education Specialist.

Our stories began to show further signs of overlap. Jane told me she used to shop and was a member at St. Anthony Park Food (SAP) Co-op across from the University back in the late seventies.

Like a loon resurfacing on one of Minnesota’s lakes, the memory of Jane’s connection with my previous life suddenly popped up like a bird out of water. I had run that co-op in an earlier incarnation.

“Hmm,” I murmured to myself. “Here they are again - the eagle, the serendipity and a face from the past.”

I always know I’m onto something when those three things appear.  I stared at Jane and tried to remember her as a young mother and member shopping at the co-op when I, too was once a young mom working in the women’s collective at the store and then later as manager of this largely volunteer run operation. I learned from Jane that while in college she studied ecology, ornithology and other biological studies. Knowing that now, it’s no wonder she was familiar and could apply her knowledge about issues such as habitat restoration to her own shoreline project. I’m glad I took the time to ask my questions that not only answered this, but confirmed that Jane and Darlene are my kind of people 

Round Lake in Little Canada.

So what is it about Round Lake that made it a good candidate for a restoration project and how did they get drawn into it? Round Lake is a beautiful, quiet little gem (12 acres) tucked away on the western border of Little Canada. It has its own special recreational and wildlife value, as the people who look out onto its shorefront will testify. Darlene Cochran and Jane Johnson both live in townhomes that hover above the “seawall” that separates their property from the south side of the lake. Over the past year and a half, they have quietly but determinedly orchestrated a large scale shoreline restoration project on their lake with help from the Watershed District, Ramsey Conservation District and Sandstrom Land Management Company.

What “turned on” the sentiments of these local “Unsung Heroes” and motivated them to take action?
According to Jane, the former president of the Townhome Association, the vision for their site surfaced back in 2009/2010.
“I originally approached Ryan Johnson from Ramsey Conservation District to help us develop a strategic plan for our whole grounds. We had some erosion issues at one end of our site. But the “ah hah” moment came when we walked around to the back and he pointed out to me that if we didn’t do something about the shoreline before long we might completely lose the whole thing! At that point I knew we had to heed his warning seriously and make this project a priority.”

Left: Erosion on the east side of the building was the first prompt leading to the restoration project,
but there were bigger concerns around the corner...
Right: Would the waters of Round Lake eventually reach and undermine this wall if nothing was done?

What are the Main Watershed Issues at Round Lake?
Round Lake Townhomes' shoreline property is within the 100 year flood elevation.
Round Lake Townhome’s property along the shoreline is vulnerable because it falls within the 100 year flood zone. Luckily the lake does not suffer from the effects of heavy wave action that could potentially further erode its shoreline. But without addressing the steepness of the southern bank and it growing ramifications of erosion on the hillside caused by run-off from the developed property, these threats had the potential to jeopardize the townhome’s real estate investment and potentially create some challenges to the lake’s water quality.

Can you see the Round Lake Trail Townhomes along the southern shoreline?
Even in the aerial photo, you can see how green the water is.  The clarity of
Round Lake is only 1/3 of a meter.

The lake is seriously impacted by intensive residential and commercial development around it. Water quality data for the past three years (2010-2012) indicates that the lake has a summer average of phosphorus of 179 TP (Total Phosphorus). It has a summer water clarity average of only a third of a meter and a chlorophyl a reading of nearly 104 ug/l. These three perimeters put it into a category of a hyypereutrophic nutrient-rich lake. 

Round Lake also faces the occasional health issue of harmful blue green algae also known as cyanobacteria that reoccurs periodically in the lake.  For further information on this topic, see this link for a definition of cyanobacteria or this pdf for the Watershed District’s blue-green algae fact sheet that accompanied an advisory in September 2013. 

Take caution.  Blue green algae can be harmful to pets
and humans.  Pay attention to advisories.

How are some of these Issues being addressed through the Round Lake Trails Shoreline Project?
Investigation of the site revealed the need for:

  • removal of buckthorn and invasive weeds 
  • replacement of non-natives with native plants and shrubs
  • making the lake more visible to residents
  • stabilizing the bank by solving serious erosion issues caused by run-off
  • preventing the gradual loss of shoreline 
  • habitat restoration for birds, fish, insects… and eagles!

Left:  Where's the lake?  Before the restoration, residents had a hard time seeing the lake from their townhomes due to the dense buckthorn.  The plants chosen will not be as tall and block their lake view.  Right: There goes the neighborhood!  Increasing runoff from the site was causing erosion down the hillside and compromising the shoreline.

Left: We want birds!  Improving habitat was an important goal for Round Lake residents who like to observe and appreciate animal life near their shoreline.  Right:  A pipe redirects runoff further down the slope and an erosion blanket with long rooted plants help reduce shoreline erosion and keep runoff from undermining the slope.
New native plants on a gradual slope now take the place of buckthorn on a steep slope.

Getting Townhome Residents On Board

Darlene Cochran, current President
of the Round Lake Townhome Association.
 “Darlene, the current president of the association was very excited about the shoreline restoration project from the moment I met her,” attests Paige Alborg, the Watershed District BMP Cost Incentive Program Coordinator who has helped support the project. “Throughout the process she was a good advocate for the project because she understood the importance of the project to the association and knew how to relay this so that the other townhome owners would understand its value.”

“Overall our project was a success because people felt heard, included and involved.” - Darlene Cochran, president of the Round Lake Trail Townhome Association.

Before any of the physical work could be started and the project could move forward, convincing the other 20 homeowners to get behind the project was the first step. Both Jane and Darlene recognized that it was important to establish buy-in by involving residents in important educational and decision-making steps along the way. Essential to the success of the project was helping the homeowners understand both the purpose for the project and what to expect as it progressed. Jane and Darlene set out to assist residents in recognizing the issues resulting from the dominance of invasive non-native plants and the level of erosion that jeopardized their shoreline. Ultimately residents had the opportunity to learn about and choose appropriate native replacements and determine locations for access points in the restoration area.
"How about putting it here?"  Residents had input into deciding the best locations for the three access points on the lake.

Teachable moments along the way…

“People were nervous about making a change,” noted Jane.

“But now everyone is looking forward to seeing what it will look like next spring and summer,” Darlene acknowledged.

“Some people weren’t convinced at first that the problems on the shoreline were serious enough to address. Couldn’t we wait a little longer? Even though the Watershed District would pay for 75% of the project costs, the residents had to be willing to kick in for some of the costs as well. They also had to be persuaded that if they didn’t do anything about the problems on their shoreline, eventually the shoreline would disappear and the lake level could be up to their wall.”

There was reluctance on the part of some homeowners to give up plants that weren’t native on their shore hillside because they had personally chosen and planted them themselves. Education about the value of long rooted native plants in stopping erosion became paramount. An evening education session was offered by the Watershed District to help teach the board members about the different types of plants needed for different zones along the shoreline. By the end of the project, comments from residents grew more favorable. Once the board approved the project and the project was in the ground by mid September, many residents took responsibility for watering the new plants along their section of the shoreline.

Rolling Forward 
"Meet me on the deck this evening at 6:30.  Ramsey Conservation District and
Paige Alhborg from the Watershed District are coming to meet with us." - Darlene Cochran

Darlene estimates that she held at least ten or more meetings over a year’s time with townhome residents and consultants. She and Jane toured Lake Phalen and other sites to get ideas for plants to include. Ramsey Conservation District developed the restoration plan. The Townhome Association applied for cost share funds from the Watershed District, then Darlene and her team solicited and reviewed bids. Sandstrom Land Management Company won the bid to remove the buckthorn, prep the site with erosion blanket, biologs and fence in the water and to install the plants. 

Leave well enough alone!  Native trees and shrubs already on site were left intact and worked around.

Bruce Sanborn, a former DNR hydrologist who worked for 16 years for the MN DNR and 18 years for the Board of Soils and Water Management BSWM was hired as the lead contractor. He was very careful to save many native plants and trees already growing on the shoreline. By the time the project was completed, 4000 square feet of shoreline were restored including upland areas, a transitional wetland buffer and an emergent zone along the water’s edge.

So there you have it –a story that contains the intersection of co-ops, childcare, eagle care and protection of our lakes. Looking out for our future, our waters, our children and their children and the efforts that go into creating supportive food sources and habitats for plants, birds, eagles, fish, insects and humans are all interrelated. Thank you to everyone for caring enough to make it happen!
Photo courtesy of Rusty Mathiasmeier.  For more about his
photos and river story, see our previous post Rusty's River Ride: A Story About Eagles.