Lake Superior Day

Keep Lake Superior Beautiful!

Lake Superior is an amazing beautiful lake. It is the largest and coldest of the Great Lakes.

Today is a typical sunny summer Lake Superior Day with cool winds blowing across the lake from the Northeast.   I am celebrating Lake Superior Day by picking up trash along the roadside, not driving and loving the birds, plants and butterflies that are part of the big lake’s habitat. The eagles, sand-hill cranes, humming birds, red-starts, and white-throated sparrows are a total joy. This morning we saw lots of skippers, common wood-nymphs and white admirals.

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 a few more:

  1. Plastics have become a big problem for our waterways.  Reduce plastic use and be sure any plastic-use is recycled. Also remember to say, “No straw please!”
  2. Micro-fibers in our clothes also are polluting our waterways. As of yet there isn’t a good solution. Read about micro-fibers here.
  3. Always pick up litter, and recycle it if possible.
NASA picture of Lake Superior

What causes all that algae?

The substances that turn our lakes and rivers green each summer come from our lawns and yards. We think of leaves as waste, but to a lake they are food. The algae in lakes love leaves and fertilizers, and when we feed lakes too many chemicals and leaves, algal blooms turn our lakes and rivers green and smelly. Protecting water is everyone’s job What can you do? Simple–remember the land/water connection! What we do to the land we do to the water. Reduce chemicals, clean your streets when the leaves fall from the trees, and when you mow the grass clean your streets and sidewalks. Keep our lakes and rivers clean.

June on Lake Superior

Magnificent skies

June is a month of variety, fresh green plants, and interesting skies. As the month ends, I reflect on the beauty of Lake Superior and the landscape that surrounds it. The length of the days and natural beauty is energizing. Everyday differs with the direction of the wind, and the big lake is usually part of this equation.
The birds are secretly nesting and raising their young, but I watch an unaware flicker fly in and out of her nest hole with food.

Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies.

 

White Admiral Butterfly
Lupine on Lake Superior

 

 

 

 

 

The lupine, wild geraniums, Canada anemone, thimbleberry, and raspberries bloom while the milkweed takes over the garden path.

And.. everyday enjoys a new butterfly.

 

A Simple Idea to Improve Water

How can you keep rainwater in your yard?

It’s raining where I live. Do you ever wonder where all that rainwater goes? Our earth naturally manages rainwater, drainage, and wetlands, and it is able to naturally purify and clean our water. Unfortunately, we created an impossible situation with our concrete urbanization and all the chemicals we use. Instead of allowing the rain to fall and soak into the ground we get it away from our houses and buildings as fast as we can sending water rushing down our storm drains into our lakes and rivers. As this water cascades over concrete and asphalt it picks up chemicals, pollutants, trash, lawn clippings and leaves which wash into our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

This is a classic example if everyone were to do just a bit to give some of this natural cleaning back to the earth, it would make a big difference in our water quality.

No one wants a wet basement, so always keep water 10 feet from your house or apartment, but beyond the 10 feet you can do many water managements things with a few flexible downspout extensions which you can purchase at hardware stores.

Below is an excellent blog from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization on a very simple way to use some of the water running off your home, and making a big difference for water quality.

 

From the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization : “Your goal, as an eco-friendly house-dweller, is to soak as much of that water into the ground as possible. The soil will filter out the pollutants and the water will move downward until it reaches the water table. As a bonus, any plants, trees or other vegetation in the area will soak up a portion of the water to use as fuel.”  Read the entire blog here.

The Mississippi River Shed drains much of the United States

The same thing can be accomplished on agricultural land that uses buffer strips of trees and deep-rooted plants along ponds and streams.   These buffer strips absorb the chemicals!  The Gulf of Mexico thanks you! Read at Gulf

Learn From The Past

Bring your own reusable bag

I know people get tired of my harping on plastic, but plastic is a serious world problem. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition the average shopper uses 500 plastic bags a year, and that is just bags, not all the other plastic products.  This is not sustainable!

I love thinking of how my grandparents lived, and how it is different from today. I loved this post from One Green Planet about what we can learn from the past and from our grandparents. Read it here.

Below is a quote from One Green Planet which show how serious this plastic issue is!

“In the past 30 years alone, the amount of plastic produced worldwide has increased by 620 percent! On average, that equates to 300 million tons of plastic a year. Of this 300 million tons, about 8.8 million tons find their way into the world’s oceans where they are left to slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces – and by slowly, we mean over the course of 100 to 1,000 years. When you consider the huge volume that is added to the oceans every year and the fact that plastics never really “go away,” we find our oceans crowded with a massive soupy mixture of harmful plastic products. This sadly has a massive impact on the marine animals who call our oceans home. Around 700 marine species are in danger of extinction due to entanglement, ingestion or general pollution caused by our plastic trash.”

Our grandparents didn’t have the choices and variety we do.  They cooked and ate hearty food on real dishes, but most important they conserved, reused, and didn’t throw everything away like we do today! I would stay with my grand parents for a week and we didn’t need to run to the store to buy buy buy. We used what we had.

What do you remember about how your grandparents did things?

Even remote islands are collecting our plastic trash

http://www.refillrevolution.com/

https://health4earth.com/2017/02/19/the-horrifying-impact-of-plastic-pollution/

Dear Gov. Dayton

This is a message to Minnesota Governor Dayton asking him to veto the legislation that takes away Minneapolis’s plastic bag ban.

Below is my letter to the Minneapolis http://www.startribune.com/ It was published a few months ago. It is ridiculous the Minnesota legislature is trying to take away Minneapolis’ right to ban plastic bags. Why should the plastic industry have the right to say which rules the city of Minneapolis should enact???
To the editor,
Today as I drove north out of Minneapolis on 35W, I was sad to see waste plastic bags hanging from fences and decorating plants and trees. I thought of the op-ed by the manufacturer of plastic bags telling us how wonderful his bags were. (Facts Don’t Support Columns Call for Ban on Plastic Retail Bags)
We all observe many bags with purchases leaving our stores, but only .06 percent are recycled. Plastic poses a serious threat to our wildlife that eat and become tangled in this trash. Plastic takes many years to decompose and releases toxins into our soil and water during this long process.
The Minnesota Legislature is trying to ban Minneapolis’s hope to reduce plastic bag use which goes into effect later this year. Governor Dayton should veto this silly legislation, and all Minnesotans should take personal responsibility to recycle clean plastic bags at grocery stores, and reduce their use of this harmful litter.

Health4earth

Call Governor Mark Dayton (651-201-3400) and tell him cities should have the right to ban plastic bags. VETO SF 1456!

Superior Views: Lots of Rain

A rainy week on Lake Superior. Leaves are just budding on the  birch trees
A rose-breasted grosbeak brightens the rainy days

The week began with “extreme fire danger” warnings. But the rains came on Monday, and it has rained all week.  The swollen rivers and streams pour into Lake Superior turning the lake muddy brown.
The middle of May is always fabulous for viewing migrating warblers in northern Wisconsin. Even with the rain and storms migrants are passing through to their nesting areas. I hope they stay safe. This week we saw yellow-rumps, palm warblers, chestnut-sided, Nashville, oven-bird, and red-starts. Also, we had a beautiful male rose-breasted grosbeak visiting our feeder.
Blooming marsh marigolds are perfect for the wet ditches.

Marsh Marigolds love the rain!

The Arctic and Whales Collecting Our Plastic

Do we want waterways that look like this?

This shouldn’t surprise me, but I am upset to read about the plastic trash in the Arctic Ocean.   Plastic trash is now so ubiquitous that researchers have found hundreds of tons of it floating in the Arctic Ocean.  Read the whole story here.

Why shouldn’t I be surprised by this?  The “local control” advocates, in the Minnesota legislature are trying to derail Minneapolis’ plastic bag ban from happening later this year. I have just returned from a road trip to Washington, D.C. and I found only a few places to recycle along the way, most on college campuses. I could go on and on about what I see throughout the world in regards to plastic trash. A sad story about a whale collecting all this plastic . Our earth has a massive problem!

Plastic breaks into tiny pieces and wildlife eats it!

Where are the companies that manufacture and make a profit on this plastic and Styrofoam when it comes to clean-up?

Styrofoam I pulled from Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. It is breaking into small pieces and could last forever!

The oceans belong to all of us.  No one has the right to pollute and trash the ocean or the rivers or lakes.

What can you do? Have plastic-free shopping trips by bringing your own containers, and never purchase products on Styrofoam trays.  2. Encourage your community to put up and maintain recycling containers.  3. Pick up trash on your walks. 4. Recycle everything you can. 5. Always bring your reusable bags shopping.

Last, a remote Pacific island has become a reservoir for the waste of the world as it piles onto this pristine island.

Bring you own bag

 

 

 

 

Storm Lake Wins a Pulitzer

Our polluted lakes and rivers!

We love an underdog, and when a small town Iowa newspaper takes on the industry that dominates its state you pay attention! The Storm Lake Times has just won a Pulitzer Prize for editorials on Iowa’s water problems caused by agriculture. To me this is a story about justice and fairness.  Why should an industry be allowed to pollute, and harm the health of surrounding communities? Why has it become such an expensive struggle in farm country for communities to provide clean water for their residents? Because I live in Minnesota where agriculture has poisoned many of our lakes that are near Iowa, I have followed this story of Des Moines Water Works suing the surrounding Iowa counties.  The Storm Lake Times and Art Cullen receive all my praise and congratulations for their year of editorials on this challenging issue.

Below is one of Art Cullen’s editorials:

“The public would appear to have made up its mind about the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties over nitrate pollution of the Raccoon River. The Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll reported Sunday that 60% of those surveyed believe the water works was right to sue drainage districts in the three counties for discharging polluted water into the river.

It is virtually the same result the poll found a year ago.

Urban residents, small towners and even rural dwellers all show majority support for the water works position. This after a barrage of advertising in the Des Moines TV market sponsored by Farm Bureau, and a host of radio ads aiming to fire up rural residents against encroaching government.

Anyone can see how filthy Storm Lake is, how the Des Moines River near Humboldt is a mud flow, how shallow lakes in Northwest Iowa have eroded into duck marshes.

Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America. It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion.

Everyone knows it’s not the city sewer plant causing the problem. And most of us recognize that this is not just nature at work busily releasing nitrates into the water. Ninety-two percent of surface water pollution comes from row crop production — an incontroverted fact from the court case.” The entire editorial

And an excerpt from another Art Cullen editorial: “Which goes to show that nobody really knows what to do. The initial reaction to the lawsuit was to condemn the water works for interrupting our way of doing business. The second intuitive reaction was to throw a ton of money at the issue. The agri-industrial community has tried to convince us it will take $6 billion or $10 billion or $15 billion to protect Iowa’s surface water from nitrate pollution. It scares the bejeebers out of taxpayers, especially in defendant counties.” The entire essay

Read more about this story here.

The farming community should never have been exempt from the Clean Water Act. Agri-business has become too powerful and now there is no controlling them.  The reasons why regulations are so important for the health of us all!

Our Urban Rivers

We all live on lakeshore. If you have a storm drain on your street it probably drains to a lake or river. The crap we are inadvertently putting in our rivers is cause for concern, and we must become more aware of the harm we are doing to our waterways and drinking water.  A new study just done by the University of Minnesota looking at water quality finds the state of our urban rivers grim. Read about it here.

The water we have on earth is the only water we will ever have.  We aren’t getting any more water, and must take care of what we have.  In this above study, homeowners that use chemicals and owned dogs were the worst offenders for polluting our water run-off. This run-off goes directly down the storm drain into lakes or streams. Once we know the source of

Growing yards without chemicals!

the pollution we get at the beginning stage to solve the problem: Don’t use chemicals on your yards, always pick up after your pets and keep your sidewalks driveways and street clean! It is more complicated, but this gives you a based-line to work from!

Urban pollution is not anywhere on the magnitude of agricultural run-off polluting the Mississippi River, but urban dwellers should take it seriously.