Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aquatic Plant Harvesting and Phosphorus Reduction

By Bill Bartodziej

Figure 1: A mechanical paddle wheel harvester working on Casey Lake

Finding the Right Solution

Shallow lakes in our watershed are important neighborhood resources. Managing these systems, however, can be very challenging with substantial phosphorus inputs from storm water and disturbance by invasive species such as the common carp. Because of phosphorus enrichment (eutrophication), shallow lakes are typically either dominated by algae or aquatic plants. It’s rare to find an urban shallow lake “in the middle” with a little bit of both. Over the years, we have learned that citizens really don’t care much for lakes in either extreme state. If we had our way, the general public and watershed managers would like to see moderate plant growth, good water quality, and sustainable game fish populations in our urban shallow lakes. Our overriding goals are to have healthy aquatic

ecosystems that look nice and provide a multitude of recreational opportunities.

In our watershed, we have applied phosphorus control measures, common carp control, and aquatic plant management to improve shallow lake systems. For controlling nuisance plant growth, mechanical harvesting (Figure 1) is often favored over herbicide use in shallow lakes due to the risks of oxygen depletion and nutrient release from decaying plant material. Through harvesting, we are able to curb the effects of excess plant growth – recreation becomes easier and aesthetics improve. 

Another potential benefit of harvesting is the removal of phosphorus that is contained in the plant tissues. Compared to watershed Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as rain gardens, pervious pavement, and green roofs, it’s possible that aquatic plant harvesting is a relatively economical way to remove phosphorus from shallow lakes. This tool may end up being a “win-win” where we improve recreation and aesthetics, and also effectively reduce phosphorus. So beginning last year, we started to critically assess aquatic plant harvesting in Casey Lake, North St. Paul. We addressed questions like: “How much phosphorus are we pulling out of the lake?” and “How does this cost compare to other BMPs?” Below is a synopsis of what we found.

Casey Lake

Casey Lake is at the headwaters of the Phalen Chain of Lakes. On the east shore is one of North St. Paul’s premier parks, with ball fields, picnic areas, a walking path and lake access. Casey is 12 acres with an average depth of 2 feet and a maximum depth of 4 feet. Its watershed (235 acres) is fully developed with a dominance of residential suburban housing and 27% impervious surface area.

Figure 2: When carp were abundant in Casey Lake, algal blooms
like this one were common.

In 2009, Casey Lake was identified as a productive common carp nursery area. The carp population was extremely high (total number of carp ≈ 12,000) with biomass estimated at 450 lbs/ac. Water quality was poor, algae dominated the system, and rooted aquatic plants were absent (Figure 2). In Midwestern shallow lake systems, carp biomass over 90 lbs/ac is considered the threshold where serious ecological damage becomes evident. In addition to having adverse effects on Casey’s water quality and ecology, substantial numbers of carp could travel downstream into the Phalen Chain of Lakes.

As part of a comprehensive carp management plan, Casey Lake’s water level was drawn down in the winter of 2012-13. In the spring of 2013, netting and electrofishing surveys suggested a complete kill of the fish community. Subsequently, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stocked bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) to both restore the fishery and to reduce the chances of carp re-establishing in Casey. North St. Paul installed an aeration system to increase the survival of game fish over the winter months.

Without Carp - 2013

After the carp eradication, Casey switched from an algae-dominated state to one blanketed by aquatic plants. In 2013, water clarity increased and rooted aquatic plants became established, covering a majority of the lake bottom (Figure 3). Plants did not reach the surface and were at moderate levels where recreation and aesthetics were not affected.

Figure 3: After carp were eliminated, water clarity significantly
increased in Casey Lake.

Harvesting Last Year

However, in 2014, nuisance levels of rooted aquatic plants and filamentous algae first became apparent in June (Figure 4). Because recreation was virtually impossible with the plant growth, we employed a private contractor to conduct mechanical harvesting. Two harvesting efforts began on July 11th and August 20th. A majority of the lake surface area was harvested during each effort. 

Figure 4: Nuisance algal mats appeared in June, 2014.

Through weighing representative trailer loads and keeping track of the total number of loads, we estimate that 115,000 pounds (wet weight) of plant material was taken out of Casey in 2014. By analyzing plant samples for phosphorus, we estimate that 36 pounds of total phosphorus was removed with harvesting. These values are similar to other plant-phosphorus levels reported in the scientific literature. We found that the cost of phosphorus removal through harvesting was $300 per pound.  

Harvesting This Year

Fortunately, this year, we did not have the extensive algal mats and surfaced plant mats cause problems in May and June. However, abundant algal mats and plants in July prompted the watershed to take action. Extensive surfaced mats impeded fishing from the newly installed dock and access point in the park (Figure 5). The watershed employed a private contractor in early August to begin harvesting. A total of 151,000 pounds (wet weight) of plant material was harvested in a one week period. We estimate that 47 pounds of phosphorus was removed at a cost of $160 per pound. An impressive 30’ mound of plant material is currently drying at the North St. Paul Public Works yard (Figure 6). This material will be brought to the Ramsey County Corrections Greenhouse facility and used in a compost mixture.        

Figure 5: July 2015 - Before harvesting

August 2015 - After harvesting

Cost Comparisons

If we look at harvesting over a two-year period for Casey, our average cost of phosphorus removed per pound is around $230. If we compare this number to standard watershed BMPs, this approach is considerably cheaper. To remove a pound of phosphorus in storm water by using a rain garden, a cost of $9,000 per pound can be expected. And pervious pavers are on the high end at $23,000 per pound. It should be noted that watershed BMPs have multiple benefits, such as reductions of storm water volume, suspended solids, and heavy metals. These tools are used because of the many benefits they provide in storm water management, not just phosphorus reduction.
Figure 6: A 30-foot mound of harvested aquatic plant material will be used in a compost mixture to grow beneficial plants.


Implications for Management

Harvesting has been an effective tool in managing the aquatic plant community on Casey Lake. In addition to improving recreation and aesthetics, taking out a considerable amount of plant biomass is an economical approach to remove phosphorus from the lake ecosystem. So far, this method does seem like a “win-win”, providing multiple benefits at a reasonable cost.

We found that harvesting in Casey Lake will substantially reduce the load of phosphorus making its way to the lake bottom in the fall and early winter through decomposition. Over time, we may see benefits such as reduced rooted aquatic plant growth and possibly less phosphorus being released from the lake bottom substrates and becoming available in the water column. Another benefit to harvesting is that removing this plant biomass also reduces the risk of oxygen depletion in the winter. Decaying plant material in the winter uses a lot of oxygen, especially in shallow lake systems. We need to keep oxygen levels pretty high in order to get the bluegill and bass populations through the winter.

We know all too well that urban shallow lakes like Casey are very challenging to manage. We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with the U of MN, North St. Paul, and DNR that provide a suite of management resources. Through continued data collection, assessment, and collaboration we look forward to learning more about how aquatic plant harvesting can be used to reach our watershed and lake management goals.

Kristin Willette, Invasive Plant Patrol Volunteer with a Mission

By Sage Passi

Kristin Willette walks a trail in Battle Creek Park on the hunt for targeted invasive plants.

I have my internal GPS system trained to find people with a passion and a mission. I know there are people out there in the watershed doing dedicated, important work. My mission: Find them wherever they are and cover their story.

I’ve been curious about what entices invasive plant volunteers to become involved. I asked Carole Gernes, Coordinator for the Ramsey County Cooperative Weed Management Area, if I could trail one of her volunteers. I was pleased when an opportunity to meet Kristin Willette, arose in July. Kristin is an enthusiastic volunteer who looks for early detection target species in several areas.

Earlier this spring Carole organized two Invasive Plant Patrol trainings, one in Maplewood and the other in Tamarack Nature Preserve, to train volunteers to learn how to be extra eyes with the goal of stopping new invasive species from gaining a foothold in the county. New invasive plants just moving into the area are referred to as early detection species.
Volunteers hike on and off trails, mark locations of invaders and report them for removal.

Carole Gernes, coordinator for the Ramsey County Cooperative
Weed Management Area, with oriental bittersweet, an invasive threat.

The Ramsey County Cooperative Weed Management Area (RCCWMA) is a cooperative relationship between government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations and other interested groups working towards managing early detection species that could impact natural lands, parks and open spaces in Ramsey County. RCCWMA began its volunteer program in 2010 with Early Detectors working in Maplewood and North St. Paul. Additional volunteers in Roseville, Shoreview, White Bear Lake and St. Paul joined the efforts in the past couple years. The plants that are on their radar are listed below. They are grouped in the following categories: 

Early Detection Target Species in Ramsey County

Noxious weeds which must be eradicated by law
  • Grecian foxglove
  • Cut-leaf teasel
  • Oriental bittersweet
Noxious plants which must be managed by law
Minnesota Restricted Noxious Weeds
Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species; illegal to possess, propagate or transport
  • Flowering rush

Other species that threaten ecosystems

  • Japanese hedge parsley
  • Miscanthus ssp.

Carole’s training sessions enable volunteers to practice identification with herbarium species. They learn how to identify and distinguish these targeted species from beneficial look-alikes. 

Kristin, acknowledged, “Carole has been most encouraging and responsive. I feel I am actually helping directly in an effort I care about very much! I started studying exotic invasive plants and animals back in grad school in the 1980s and have always had an affinity for weeds.” 
Kristin and I decided to rendezvous at her house because I wasn’t sure I could pinpoint where to meet at Battle Creek Park. Before we left to go to the park, she sat down with me in her living room to share her story about how she chose to get involved in being an “Early Detector”.

A couple years ago Kristin moved to a townhome in St. Paul from her house near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. It was hard moving to a place without a yard so she said she was happy to discover a place like Battle Creek Park to hike and explore not far from her new home.
Kristin Willette has a strong fascination with both "weeds" and native plants.

“The mountain-bike trails at Battle Creek Park are my closest and favorite places to walk. There’s a 'wildness' there, in the midst of the city, but the park also has every kind of human impact you can find. I have found relatively rare plants there, as well as plenty of weeds and invasives. I retired recently and getting involved in this program has been like returning to an earlier time in my life, growing up on a farm in southeastern Minnesota. During my childhood I got very familiar with weeds and how they behave.” Her interest and study of exotic plants and animals took off even more intensively during her years as a graduate student in the 1980s.

I followed Kristin in my car and we drove to one of the entry points she uses to get into the park. To my surprise, I realized that this was at the same location I have arranged for buses to drop off students when I’ve led tours in the park.

One of the plants that soon grabbed her attention when we met at the entrance and walked into the park was Japanese hedge parsley. It wasn’t obvious to me at first with my untrained eye, but I soon began to notice how common it was in various places along the trail.

Kristin Willette with Japanese hedge parsley at one of Battle Creek Park's trail heads.

Japanese hedge parsley is a biennial that invades woodlands and woodland edges
and roadsides. It establishes as a rosette with parsley-like leaves in the first year.
Photo credit:

Japanese hedge parsley flowers in midsummer, producing small white,
flat-topped umbels. Under each umbel are a number of narrow bracts.

Photo credit: Simba Blood

The seeds of Japanese hedge parsley, produced later in the
summer, are bristly and will attach to your clothes

Photo credit:

I asked her what was one of the other targeted Early Detection plants she has found in the park.

“Narrowleaf bittercress,” she responded.

I had to admit I didn’t know how to recognize the plant.

Narrowleaf bittercress
Photo credit:

Narrowleaf bittercress is a new invader to Minnesota. Kristin said she has found it in several places in Battle Creek Park – in one area she calls “the absolutely horrible area” - a spot with more invasives than she can report or pull, but also in a beautiful area where early meadow rue, Canada mayflower and false rue anemone grow in a forest of ferns. This bittercress grows vigorously in deep shade and woods, covering the ground in dense patches. It can also be found on banks, thicket margins and on moist limestone rocks and cliffs. It can be differentiated from other mustards and bittercress by its membrane-like, narrow, pointed ears or auricles which extend from the leaf base to grasp the stem. These ears remain on the stalk when leaves are removed. Kristin surmised that it was probably transferred to that wooded area via the off-road bicycle paths that connect to those out of the way places in the park.


Arrowhead and reed canary grass are two of
the common species along Battle Creek's edge.

Most of my walking tours with kids have always focused on the creek. I’ve never really stopped to look at the larger diversity of plants set back from the trail tucked under the canopy of trees. The densely growing canary grass and two natives, the arrowhead and an occasional swamp milkweed growing along its banks are the typical plants that have absorbed my interest, but now with her direction I found myself beginning to notice the tucked away areas where Kristin keeps her eye out for “what does not belong.” I was excited to see dense patches of wild ginger, sensitive fern and other ferns interspersed with meadow rue and other native woodland species.

One of the out-of-the-way trails that Kristin includes in her monitoring walks.

As we walked further into the park, it became more obvious that the Japanese hedge parsley has asserted its way into the park. But as Kristen reminded me, trying to keep it from getting a foothold in the out of the way places where a bike or a footstep might carry its seeds to less trodden, diverse woodlands in the park is still an important mission. I asked her to point out one of those trails. We headed a short distance up one of the dirt trails and her eyes were soon fixed on a couple of stray Japanese hedge parsley plants that had found their way into the woodland mix. In a couple more seconds those Japanese hedge parsley were no longer there.

Kristin removes some Japanese hedge parsley growing off the beaten track.

I appreciate Carole’s summary of Kristin’s level of dedication.

“She’s like the One Woman Battle Creek Improvement Association!” 

I’ll ditto that.

Back on the creek trail I noticed that Kristin had stopped for a moment and was taking a photo of a plant on her phone that drew her suspicion. She told me she’s delighted to have a feature on her phone that allows her to map the location points where she had detected something she wants to report.

Kristin snaps a shot of a tall plant in question.

She wasn’t sure of the plant’s identity but she said she would do some more research and let me know what it was. A couple of days later I got this e-mail from her,

“That big plant I was worrying about at Battle Creek, I thought was Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzanium). But what we saw is more likely Cow Parsnip or some other member of the Umbelliferae family. I sent a picture to Carole Gernes, but really I should go back and (now that I know what to look for) examine the stem for purple blotches and stiff white hairs at the joints. Details, details!”

When I asked Carole about this plant that Kristin was concerned about, she informed me that Giant Hogweed hasn’t been seen yet in Minnesota.

“But it is knocking on the door.” It has been reported in Wisconsin and Michigan. It causes burns like wild parsnip but if you get the sap in your eyes, it can permanently blind you. It can grow to fifteen feet high with leaves five feet wide and a huge stem four to five inches in diameter. To eradicate that plant you need to use a full hazmat (protective body suit) with a face shield.” With all this information I couldn’t help conjuring up images of a knight in armor going after the fierce Giant Hogweed.

After I left Kristin that morning, she soon took off on the trail of another suspect. This is what she later had to report,

“After seeing you I looked at a vacant lot along Old Hudson Road. If you click on the Google maps link below you will get a map; the satellite view "Earth" reveals more. Tansy was growing there; it had been mowed off short, but was vigorously flowering at about 6" tall! Carole says they need to treat tansy when it is not flowering.”

I chuckled when she shared her e-mail to Carole with me.

Photo credit: Carole Gernes

“It may not show in the photo, but a patch of tansy is out there. Wish I was taller!”

You may not be that tall, Kristin, but you have X-ray vision!

Look out, tansy! Someone will be coming for you!

Thank you to Kristin and all of the other dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to help our natural world.

Ramsey County Cooperative Weed Management Area is a program of Ramsey Conservation District.

Up-to-date information about the Invasive Plant Patrol or early detection species in Ramsey County can be found on Ramsey County Cooperative Weed Management Area’s Facebook page:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thank you, Paul, for your dedicated service to the Watershed

Paul Ellefson
Photo by Anita Jader.

We would like to acknowledge the dedicated service and involvement of Paul Ellefson, President of the Board of Managers for Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, who stepped down from the Board in early July. Paul served on the Board for twenty-two years since 1993.

Ellefson, Professor Emeritus in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources in Policy and Administration, provided creative, energetic, skillful guidance and oversight throughout his tenure at the Watershed District.

We extend our warm gratitude and thanks to Paul for his long-term commitment, supportive expertise and the 'big picture' perspective that he brought to his work with our Watershed District. We are grateful for his leadership and will miss him tremendously.

Pamela Skinner, Board member of the Watershed District, expressed her appreciation. “Paul was a long-serving, dedicated Board member who encouraged us to think outside the box and ask, “What else can we do?”

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed Board Vacancy

Ramsey County Board of Commissioners has posted the vacancy for this board position on Ramsey County's website at

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District Board Members must be voting residents of the watershed district (North St. Paul, Maplewood, Little Canada, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, Gem Lake, and parts of Roseville, St. Paul and Shoreview), and may not be a public officer of the County, State, or Federal government, except a soil and water district supervisor may serve as a manager. Members generally manage the water and related resources in a watershed. Members serve for three year terms.

For an application and more detailed information on this vacancy, call 651-266-8001 or visit Applications are due by August 31, 2015.

Assessing District School Sites for Potential BMPs

By Sage Passi

Last summer the District began evaluating school sites throughout the Watershed to assess their grounds for potential installations of retrofit Best Management Practices (BMPs). The District received an Accelerated Implementation grant in 2014 from the Clean Water Legacy Fund to help support this evaluation process. The goals for this project are analyzing implementation priorities and setting the stage for generating projects on school grounds in the future that will help the District meet stormwater volume and nutrient reduction goals.


Josh Vosejpka, GIS Specialist for Barr Engineering (left)
helps Erin Anderson Wenz (2nd from right) test drive an iPad
used to load details and photos during school site visits.
Barr Engineering staff delineated all school properties within the watershed using air photos and LiDAR data. This GIS information revealed 78 schools sites and provided input that helped narrow the number of sites to visit “on the ground” to a total of 38. Church schools that could be included in other projects and school sites where the District had already implemented BMPs were eliminated from the list.

A check list to help determine the most promising sites for retrofits and provide information to help in the concept design phase of the project was developed. In June 2014 Barr Engineering created an iPad application to load details and photos of each site during field visits, store the data in real time and reference the sites geographically in GIS for future use.

In July 2014 Watershed and Barr staff conducted 38 field visits at the most promising school sites. Using the data collected from the site visits, Barr developed a scoring system to categorize the site data based on constructability considerations, stormwater quality benefit, required property owner concessions and visibility. Twenty-four sites were deemed of high enough potential to grade. This scoring system narrowed down the assessed sites to eleven strong contenders for further investigation and visits with decision-makers and educators.

The eleven schools that ranked highest in the site evaluation process include: Bailey Elementary, Battle Creek Middle School, Central Park Elementary, Harmony Learning Center, Maplewood Middle School, Roseville Area Middle School, Sunrise Park Middle School, Weaver Elementary, Woodbury Elementary, Woodbury Middle School and Woodbury High School.

Maplewood Middle School's site assessment includes several recommended rain garden locations, as indicated in red.

An important component of this project involved interactions with school administrators, teachers and school district-level grounds staff to introduce the Watershed District and its goals, determine the schools’ willingness to partner with the Watershed District, identify barriers to installation and maintenance of stormwater BMPs and lay the groundwork for working effectively with schools into the future.

Starting in the fall of 2014 and continuing during the winter and spring of 2015, Watershed and Barr staff held meetings with principals, teachers and grounds staff at these eleven schools to discuss the results of their site assessments. Maps with proposed sites for rain gardens were provided, giving school officials the opportunity to provide feedback and input about locations and other concerns. A number of these meetings included teachers who have worked with the District on watershed related education projects in the past. Involving teachers helped strengthen the schools’ partnership capacity and generated a spirit of enthusiasm for participation.

Glacial Ridge's soil borings done this summer
will help determine the soil's infiltration
capacity at each of the targeted school sites.

Preliminary concept plans for the high priority sites will be developed that include planning level cost estimates for implementation and treatment potential (in costs per pound of phosphorus). This will assist the District in determining cost vs. benefit for each of the eleven schools and help prioritize projects that can be targeted for our annual work plan and future grant opportunities. We hope to be able to construct projects at three schools in 2016 and three in the following year. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

Let Author Darby Nelson inspire you to "Love a Lake"

Photo used with permission from the Saathoff family.

Author Darby Nelson’s most vivid childhood recollections of a lake came the day his mother rented a rowboat at the municipal dock and they rowed up a long stretch of shore. What did he see?

“ A mysterious forest of skinny green stems with broad, wrinkled leaves reached up out of the yellow-brown depths toward the boat ... tiny fish darted to hiding places within the greenery ... a tiny red globe of an insect-like creature rested on the tip of a submerged leaf … but above all, I remembered the crystal clarity of the water.”

Hear Darby Nelson live on September 15

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District and the St. Paul District Five Community Planning Council are pleased to co-sponsor a talk by Darby Nelson, author of the book For Love of Lakes, on Tuesday, September 15, from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at Arlington Hills Lutheran Church, in the Fellowship Hall, 1115 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul. This event is free and open to the public. 

In a cover note, John J. Magnuson, Emeritus Professor of Zoology and Limnology, University of Wisconsin, writes,
“His book weaves a descriptive tapestry of history, science, emotion, logic and lake natural history for all who love lakes or enjoy nature writing.”
Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, commented about Darby’s book:

“For those of us who live in lake country, nothing is as fine as the mist rising in the early morning, or the pickerelweed in the midday sun, or the beaver slapping at dusk. Darby Nelson captures this glory; more, he tells how we might preserve it against the myriad abuses now plaguing our freshwater oasis.”


Darby Nelson, born and raised in Minnesota, is a free-lance writer and conservation activist. He received his Ph.D. in aquatic ecology at the University of Minnesota and taught biology and environmental science at Anoka-Ramsey Community College for 35 years. 

Nelson has served three terms as a Minnesota state legislator and has received awards from the Sierra Club, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Izaak Walton League. He has served on The Nature Conservancy and Freshwater Society boards and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and is now on the board of Conservation Minnesota.

In his intro to his book, Darby explains, “We say we love our lakes, yet we not only allow but participate in their deterioration. Despite our professed love, nationwide more than 43 percent of surveyed lakes and 80 percent of urban lakes do not meet water quality standards.”

He says his puzzlement with this paradox finally bubbled over, leading him to set out on a “cut-off blue jeans and soggy tennis shoes journey of paddling and wading, listening and sniffing, turning over stones and touching, and reflecting and examining the birthing chamber of perceptions.” It was a journey that took him to large lakes and small, from Minnesota to Canada, New England, and lakes in between seeking answers.


Darby explains that his background in science and teaching initially led him to expect the paradox arose because of peoples’ lack of understanding of how aquatic systems worked, that with expanded informational programs, our behavior toward lakes might improve, that inadequate knowledge could easily result in inadvertent actions that degrade lakes.
Nelson discovered that although information can be helpful, there is more to the paradox than lack of education. A plethora of other factors can and do influence our behaviors toward lakes:
  • Our strong innate landscape preferences
  • Our inability to fully perceive a lake because we can only see the shore and the lake surface, but not the 99 percent or more of a lake that is hidden from view
  • Our tendency to see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear

Darby acknowledges that public health studies show that education efforts have failed miserably to change behavior compared to the much greater success of emotional engagement. Public health expert, Valerie Curtis, argues that “to break unhealthy habits, campaigns need to target emotions, because they are the decision makers. Where the heart leads, the habits will follow.” Lake stewardship campaigns might well learn from the experience of the public health folks.

Darby speaks both from the head and the heart so you'll want to do your best to catch him at his talk on September 15 and let him inspire you to find your own unique way to “love a lake.” 



Credit: material for this article was borrowed liberally from Darby Nelson’s website,


Mystery of the Month - August


Think about the last thing you ate today. It’s been said that about 30% or one in three bites we eat are influenced by the behavior of bees. One in three! Not only that, the cotton in our clothes relies greatly on pollination by insects. (Check out other crop plants pollinated by bees here)

Unfortunately, due to the increased use of pesticides in agriculture and residential areas, those bee communities we rely on for food and cotton are disappearing. Changes in land use and popular yard choices (aka, turf grass) have also reduced the population by eliminating the habitat bees rely on for pollen and nectar, shelter, and resources to produce the next generation.

One in three bites!


What would our day look like if there were no bees left?

Bees are incredibly important. I personally rely on food and clothing a LOT so I certainly want to keep these tiny work horses around for their own good, and the good of an intricate ecosystem they hold in balance. Heck, maybe it is even time I started working for my kiwi and denim by undoing some of the damage we’ve done to a pollinator community these crops rely on.

Who are these bees? What plants do they frequent in my yard and in my local park? How can I help monitor their populations to know if a species is going under, remaining steady, or coming back?

Bee sure the Maplewood Nature Center has a way to get you the answers to these questions!

Bee-come a Bee Monitor! 

Join Maplewood Nature Center for an exceptional Citizen Science Pollinator Training and Survey at Maplewood Nature Center and Fish Creek Natural Area. (Adult program)

Date and Time: Saturday and Sunday, Sept 12 and 13 (Rain date is Saturday and Sunday, Sept 26 and 27)  Details for these two programs are as follows: 

Pollinator Training: Saturday, Sept 12, 10 am - 4 pm, at Maplewood Nature Center, Location 2659 E 7th St.
Bees are one of our most important pollinators, but little is known about the bees that live in our natural landscapes. Learn how to distinguish bees from other flower-visiting insects, how to identify honey bees and native bees, and methods for monitoring bees. Participants will gain practical experience with hands-on activities including working with pinned specimens, examining bees in a restored prairie, and practicing the methods for standardized data collection. The training is free and participants will receive a Citizen Scientist Pollinator Monitoring Guide and other reference material. Activities will include classroom and outdoor time. Wear comfortable walking shoes, long pants and long sleeves. Bring a hat, sunglasses, lunch and water bottle.

Bee Monitoring at Fish Creek: Sunday, Sept 13, 1-4 pm at Fish Creek Natural Area, Park on Henry Lane, Just off of Carver Avenue in South Maplewood.
Put your training to use to monitor pollinators at the new Fish Creek Natural Area. Participants will meet at Fish Creek to walk transects; survey for pollinators and learn about the Fish Creek restoration. Data gathered will provide baseline information that will be tracked as the prairie restoration matures. Participants need to be able to withstand tall grasses, uneven terrain. Wear Sturdy walking shoes.  

Both programs are free! Register by Sept 9. To register online, go to or call 651-249-2170.

This course will be taught by Xerces Society Entomologists, Great River Greening Ecologists and City of Maplewood Naturalists. Funding for this project is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.