A Year of Water Action!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!
Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

My not so funny joke for Water Wednesday. A conversation I had this past week!

Friend: I hear Donald Trump has invested lots of money in bottle water.

Me: Why would he do that?

Friend: He wants to get rid of all regulation to protect our drinking water.

In contrast, Minnesota Governor Dayton has called for a Year of Water Action. He encourages all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state’s most precious resource for future generations.  Read more about it here.

Deep rooted plants absorb run-off
Deep rooted plants absorb run-off

What are you doing to protect our water resources? Reduce chemicals, sweep sidewalks and streets, install rain gardens, plant deep-rooted plants, stop building campfires, recycle and compost, clean off boats and equipment, What else?

Warm Air Holds More Moisture

999922_619252368141411_1083645899_n (1)Have you been caught in a record rain storm and flooding this summer? Chances are that most of us in the United States and Europe have experienced a heavier than normal rainfall. My travel this summer has brought me to see displaced people following storms (nothing like Louisiana or California).  I have seen lakes created from heavy rain submerging homes, closed roads and bridges, yards with 20 uprooted trees, and experienced power outages.

What is going on with these storms?  July 2016 was the hottest ever recorded since records started in 1880.  As the earth warms, some places get dryer, but in other places the atmosphere is able to hold more moisture dumping larger amounts back to earth.  Places in Louisiana received 31 inches of rain, unbelievable! I feel sad for everyone displaced from everything they own.

PBS had an interesting conversation about our weather extremes here.  Is this all part of climate change?

1391694_590095197723795_1697668544_nThere are consequences to our warming earth according to meteorologist Paul Douglas,  “More moisture in the air, higher dew points and heat indexes, more thousand-year rains, wet basements with greater regularity, and more expensive insurance policies.”

 

One River Drains Lake Superior

Magnificent Lake Superior has over 300 rivers and streams that drain into it. Last week it was a brown lake because of mega rainfall in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan where many rivers dumped sediment from the storms. I am on a road trip from Duluth, Minnesota along the south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie and the St. Mary’s River. Canada is on the other side of the lake and across the St. Mary’s River.

An ore boat leaves Lake Superior on the St Mary’s. River headed toward Lake Huron

Even though 300 streams drain into the big lake only one, the St. Mary’s River, carries boats and water away from Lake Superior. The St. Mary’s River carries about 42 billion gallons of water from Lake Superior daily.

Lake Superior, looks browner than this picture below appears.  I think the sun makes it look bluer than it is.

Butterflies are Vanishing Around The World

“Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth.” Chief Seattle

If Everyone Does a Little It Can Add up to A Lot!

Fritillary on bee balm
Fritillary on bee balm

Have you noticed how few butterflies are flittering around this summer? Researchers find that butterfly species throughout the world are disappearing because of pollution, pesticides, and habitat loss.  A newly released study says many butterflies are vanishing.

The author suggests we remove some of our lawn, and plant more flowers.  Yes, we should plant more flowers, but beside planting more flowers we need to reduce the use of the chemicals we put on our lawns, in our gardens and on our agricultural fields.

Reducing chemicals and planting host plants for butterflies can make a big difference.  Many of us are actively working on planting milkweed for monarchs, but there are many other butterfly species.  Besides milkweed I have pearly everlasting for the American painted lady, turtlehead for the checkerspot butterfly, and golden Alexander for the black swallow-tail. Violets are great for the fritillary butterflies.  This is one of the best charts I have seen on plants for butterflies from Bringing Nature Home   And some ideas from the University of Minnesota for plants that are favored for butterflies an moths. Please let me know what your best plants for butterflies are?

An American painted lady
An American painted lady

More information of pollinators: http://www.xerces.org/

What happened to our “Sky Blue” waters?

Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.
Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.

Minnesota, the land of “Sky Blue Waters” is adding more than 300 lakes, rivers and streams to its list of lakes and streams that are impaired. The story from MPR is here.

About two-thirds of Minnesota watersheds have been tested and 40 percent of Minnesota rivers and lakes have been found to be impaired by farm runoff, bacteria, mercury or other pollutants.

 

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!

I would add several more:
1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.                                                  5. Pick up all liter.

 

 

 

My Pollinator Friendly Yard

No chemicals needed!
No chemicals needed!
Plant for the monarch butterfly
Plant for the monarch butterfly

Today my yard is teaming with pollinators.  The bees are in abundance, house finch and hummingbirds are loving the fresh blooming plants, and I am thrilled.  Butterflies have been slow to appear, but today I had a giant swallowtail, several red admirals, a painted lady, and a monarch!

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian GratwickeThe Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke

An American lady
An American lady
swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies
Swamp milkweed ready for monarch butterflies

 

Bee balm, cone flowers, and milkweed will bring butterflies, bees and butterflies.

Try this link to research and look up butterflies