Lunch with a scientist, naturalist, or maybe dinner

Who would you prefer to lunch with? A Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve scientist? A Wargo Nature Center naturalist? Or maybe you’d prefer dinner at Springbrook Nature Center to discover what’s new and happening in science, nature and our community.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein

Lunch with a Scientist at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel, MN) on the second Tuesday of the month at 11:30 am. (Free, bring your lunch)

  • 1/8/2019 – Eyes on the wild, Caitlin Potter
  • 2/12/2019 – Radio telemetry, Dave Mech
  • 3/12/2019 – Winter climate change, Sam Potter
  • 4/9/2019 – Prescribed burning , Troy Mielke and Jim Krueger
  • 5/14/2019 – Citizen science: red-headed woodpeckers, Jim Howitz
  • 6/11/2019 – BioCON, Sarah Hobbie
  • 7/9/2019 – Bison and savanna restoration, Chad Zirbel
  • 8/13/2019 – Soil science, Linda Kinkel
  • 9/10/2019 – Oak savannas, Rebecca Montgomery
  • 10/8/2019 – Biodiversity research, Forest Isbell
  • 11/12/2019 – Nutrient network, Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom
  • 12/10/2019 – Wildlife survey project, Jon Poppele

Lunch with a naturalist at Wargo Nature Center (Lino Lakes, MN) on the second or third Wednesday of the month at 11:30 am. (Free no registration required, bring your lunch)

Discovery Dinner (5:00 pm, $25 per person) at Springbrook Nature Center (Fridley, MN). Lively educational programs with a catered meal for the perfect night out.  Leave the kids at home and enjoy the night with friends or a date.  Registration is required and space is limited.  Call Springbrook at 763-572-3588 to sign up or for more details.

  • 1/12/2019 – StarWatch Party, Mike Lynch, WCCO Radio
  • 2/9/2019 – Electric Vehicles, Jukka Kukkonen, Plugin Connect
  • 3/23/2019 – Reinventing Minnesota’s Bell Museum, Denise Young, Executive Director

Natural Resources Field Trip

Registration is open now for all 4th and 5th Grade Classrooms to the Natural Resource Field Trip where youth can engage in environmental education in a natural, outdoor setting.

When: April 29 – May 3, 2019

Where:  Bunker Hills Regional Park, Andover

How: Visit our informational flyer (PDF) to register online or mail us your registration by filling out the provided registration form: 550 Bunker Lake Boulevard NW, Andover, MN 55304. Email Kim Ferguson or call at 763-324-3495 with registration questions. More registration details provided below. Registration deadline is February 15.

Field Trip Objectives

  • Provides a fun environmental experience in a natural, outdoor setting.
  • Includes information about Minnesota habitat and wildlife at different stations out in nature.
  • Educational topics may include: birds, honey bees, animals, plants, trees, recycling, fish families, reptiles, animal skulls and skeletons, wildlife control and more.
  • If time allows, classes may participate in up to 12 stations.

The Natural Resources Field Trip is coordinated by Anoka County 4-H and funded by an Anoka County Ag Preserves Grant and student fees. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Jy Xiong, 4-H Program Coordinator, or email Kim Ferguson, Support Staff, or call 763-324-3495.

Order Trees and Shrubs Now for Spring Planting

The Anoka Conservation District is accepting preorders for the annual Tree and Shrub Sale.  The District offers a wide variety of native stock, including black cherry trees, mixed oak trees, red maple trees, and white pine trees. The trees and shrubs are sold in bare root seedlings or transplants and most are 10″ to 24″ in height. They may be purchased in bundles of ten for $17, or twenty-five for $30 not including tax.  Native prairie seed and tree aids are also available. You do not need to be an Anoka County resident to order.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Tree and Shrub Sale website also contains information about the kinds of trees and shrubs to plant in your particular situation along with planting directions.

You may purchase these trees and shrubs by:

  1. Online ordering,
  2. Mail in an Order Form, or
  3. Order by phone (763-434-2030 x10).

Anoka Co. highway presents its stormwater pollution prevention plan

Jack Forslund (Anoka County Highway Planner) and Meghan Litsey (WSB Environmental Scientist) presents Anoka County’s stormwater pollution minimum control measures

The Anoka County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) outlines how the County will reduce pollution in storm water runoff from highways and properties. The Plan was presented at a public information meeting (December 4, 2018) where public feedback was welcome and planning staff were available to respond to questions.

A copy of the SWPPP is available for public review a the Anoka County Highway Department Offices (1440 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW, Andover, MN 55304). Written comments may be directed to the “Anoka County Highway Engineer” at the Highway Department offices.

For more information, please feel free to call Meghan Litsey (WSB & Associates, Inc.) 763-287-7155 or Jack Forslund (Anoka County Highway Department) at 763-324-3179.

Homeowner septic and well education webinar

Webinar (click to register)

The University of Minnesota Onsite Sewage Treatment Program with the Minnesota Department of Health Well Management Program are offering a FREE septic system and private well education webinar (2 hours).

Thursday, November 15, 2018, 1:30 to 3:30pm

This class will cover the basics of how septic systems function, well water testing, and how to help protect your well from contamination sources. It will also provide property owners information on chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and the potential impact on ground and surface water.

Information on proper maintenance of both septic systems and private drinking water systems will be covered to help property owners protect their investments and the environment. See the FACTSHEET for a summary of the septic and well webinar presentation.

Workshop on drinking water protection and environmental health for local officials and realtors

This free threehour workshop on environmental topics is relevant to realtors, appraisers and local government officials (e.g. building officials, community development staff, public works superintendents and reference librarians). 

The workshop will include presentations on:

The workshop will be held at Coon Rapids City Hall (Council Chambers) on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. The workshop is limited to 50 participants.

For more information contact Bart Biernat (7633242407, Bart.Biernat@co.anoka.mn.us) at Anoka County Environmental Services.


Wellhead protection goes beyond routinely monitoring the quality of water, to protecting the source (groundwater) from pollution. Protecting the source of a community’s drinking water is best achieved through the cooperation of the residents and property owners that drink the water. Public water suppliers are contacting property owners and providing guidance to prevent pollution of the groundwater (aquifer) source of their drinking water.

The Anoka County Municipal Wellhead Protection Group has developed a map application that displays the Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMA) in Anoka County. A DWSMA outlines a wellhead protection area that is readily identified by landmarks (e.g. property lines, roads, ditches, etc.). Residents and property owners can see if they are in a wellhead protection area. The public water supplier is able to see potential sources of water pollution and well construction reports and unsealing certificates by activating layers in the DWSMA map application.

Your watershed neighborhood

It’s there to see but we don’t recognize it for what it is… a watershed. We know the neighborhood and community where we live. Do you know your watershed neighborhood? A watershed is the area where rain and snow-melt flows-off the land collecting in surface water bodies (e.g. Rum River, Coon Creek, Rice Creek, etc.).

A watershed is based on a natural, rather than a politically-defined area. Where is your creek or river? Where does it come from and where does it go? What’s on the land that could end up in the creek, river or lake?

Water resources are managed by watershed management organizations to maintain clean healthy water bodies. Watersheds Management Organizations are special local government entities that monitor and protect water. All areas of Anoka County are within one of the seven (7) watershed management organizations:

  • Coon Creek Watershed District (CCWD) 763-755-0975
  • Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) 763-398-3070
    • Includes Circle Pines, Lexington and portions of Blaine, Columbus, Columbia Heights.  The RCWD is developing its next 10-year Watershed Management Plan. Residents of the District are invited to submit comments about their priorities and concerns to the Board of Managers. Comments should be submitted to wmp@ricecreek.org before December 31, 2018.
  • Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) 612-746-4970
    • Include the Cities of Columbia Heights, Fridley and Hilltop.
    • The Mississippi WMO plan sets out goals, strategies and implementation actions based on past studies and current data on the watershed. Go to the Watershed Management Plan (webpage link) for more information.
  • Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization (LRRWMO)
    • Includes the Cities of Ramsey, Anoka, and portions of Andover.
    • The third generation LRRWMO Watershed Management Plan (webpage link) is being implemented.
  • Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization (URRWMO)
    • Includes the Cities of St. Francis, Oak Grove, Nowthen, Bethel, and portions of East Bethel.
    • The URRWMO is updating its Watershed Management plan. Residents are encouraged to participate in guiding the URRWMO. Contact Chairman John West (612-414-3513, John@IPSSEC.com) for more information.
  • Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization (SRWMO) 763-434-2030 x12 Jamie Schurbon
    • Includes Linwood Township and portions of Columbus, East Bethel, and Ham Lake.
    • The SRWMO is updating its Watershed Management Plan setting priorities, measurable goals, a schedule of work, and expected expenditures. The expected completion of the new Plan is December 2019. To learn more or provide input, please visit the Watershed Plan (webpage link). For more information contact Jamie Schurbon (763-434-2030 jamie.schurbon@anokaswcd.org)
  • Vadnais Lake Area Watershed Management Organization (VLAWMO) 651-204-6070
    • Includes a portion of Lino Lakes.
    • The VLAWMO Watershed Management Plan (webpage link) was updated 2016. The Plan includes management standards and procedures for surface water, wetland, and groundwater issues. The Plan identifies goals, policies, priority concerns, and implementation activities for the Watershed for 2017-2026.

Keep your neighborhood in good shape and the water clean by participating in your watershed management organization’s programs and even serving on a citizen advisory or technical advisory committee.

The Watershed Approach (video series)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has developed a four-part series on the “Watershed Approach” a relatively new process for gauging the health of Minnesota’s waters and taking action to protect or restore them. The series includes:

This series is a great way to learn how local watersheds work.

Organics recycling

What are organics? Organics are the biodegradable portion of trash that can be composted at a commercial composting facility that includes:

  • all food scraps such as leftovers, peelings and spoiled food
  • soiled, non-recyclable papers such as facial tissue, paper towels, paper napkins and delivery pizza boxes
  • certified compostable products such as compostable tableware and bags labeled with the Cedar Grove Composting or the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) logo

Why are organics important? Organics make up 25% – 35% of what we throw away. Those materials can be separated for composting and recycled into compost instead of being thrown away. Compost is a soil amendment that benefits all soil types and greatly improves moisture retention, soil structure and binds nutrients in the root zone for healthier plants. It can be used in landscaping, erosion control, seeding and road construction projects.

Who is collecting organics for composting? Organics recycling programs are expanding everywhere. In Anoka County, there are two organics drop-offs at its compost sites. Additionally, about half of the communities have drop-off sites for residents to bring their organics. Area schools and restaurants have also started organics collection programs. Organics collection is happening at local community events such as the 3M Championship Golf Tournament and Bunker Beach.

How can I recycle my organics? Sign up to participate in an organics drop-off program today:

To get started with the County Organics Drop-off Program

  • Sign up using the online form. If you completed a sign-up form at one of the compost sites no need to complete our online form too. (Contact information is gathered so that we can notify you of updates or changes to the organics drop-off program.)
  • Pick up a free starter kit at the compost sites during hours of operation or at the Recycling and Resource Solutions Office (1530 Bunker Lake Boulevard NW, Andover) Monday – Friday 8:00 – 4:30.
  • Collect organic waste in a compostable bag and tie off the bag.
  • Visit the compost site during hours of operation and place the bag in the organics recycling container.
  • Ask the monitor for more free BPI certified bags.

Watch for organics collection containers at events; most containers have signage to identify types of recycled items accepted. The Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints stadiums offer organics collection.

Parking lot snow being removed (MPCA photo)

Smart Salting for environmental & economic savings

It takes 1 teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water. Each winter, tons of salt is spread on roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. Most of it ends up in lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Anoka County’s lakes and rivers are getting saltier, which harms the fish, bugs, and other organisms living in them.

Smart Salting teaches public and private maintenance crews how to effectively keep roads, parking lots, and sidewalks safe while protecting our lakes and rivers. The training can also save money: Many previous participants have reduced their salt use by 30 – 70%. Private snow removal businesses can also let their clients know they’re protecting the environment with the voluntary Smart Salting certification.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers a Level 1 (individual) and Level 2 (organizational) Smart Salting certification for both private and public sector participants. Level 1 includes a roads class and a parking lots/sidewalks class. The Level 2 certification features an assessment tool which aids in budget planning and communicating with public officials or others who provide funding for maintenance work.

Level 1 Training topics:

  • How you can make changes to protect our water
  • The effect of salt on our lakes, rivers and groundwater
  • How de-icers, abrasives, pre-wetting, and anti-icing work
  • Selection of the best product for the conditions
  • Equipment calibration
  • Application rates
  • New maintenance methods
  • Cost savings tips

Level 2 Training topics:

  • Overview of the Impact salt has on our water resources
  • Steps to become Level 2 certified for your organization
  • Introduction to the Smart Salting Assessment tool (SSAt)
  • Explore SSAt with guided instruction on a computer provided in the lab
  • How to utilize the SSAt reports

Visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting training webpage for more information and upcoming trainings.

Natural heritage advisory committee accepting applicants for membership

Citizens with a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests and wetlands and the wildlife in them are invited to apply by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12 for a key advisory board.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking people to fill four vacancies on the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity.

Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas, in which native plant communities and rare wildlife species are protected. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division including nongame wildlife, Minnesota Biological Survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring, and terrestrial invasive species.

This appointed Committee makes recommendations to these Minnesota Department of Natural Resources programs:

Any Minnesota resident with interest or expertise in sustaining our state’s natural heritage may apply online until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at mndnr.gov/cac. Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, protection of Minnesota’s rare species, or marketing, communication or promotions focused on natural resources.

Members are expected to participate in five, four to five hour long meetings per year plus one, one to two day field trip. Members may also choose to participate in subcommittees or other meeting preparation. The DNR commissioner will appoint committee members for terms of up to five years starting in January.

Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the Committee’s website at mndnr.gov/cac.

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