Awe and Concern

Sphinx Moth on bee balm

Standing in that sea of color, watching Lake Superior’s never-ending blue waters meld with the sky, I wanted to stay there for the rest of my days” Melanie Radzicki McManus

Read Melanie’s entire adventure at Superior Hiking Trail 

Yes, this big lake has a spiritual effect on many of us. I love mornings the as the sun rises and noisy birds are busy with their day. The eagles whistle and screech as they fly along the shoreline. I watch two adults and one juvenile land on a white pine, they sit and watch the lake, and chatter among themselves as they fly away. I wonder what the adult eagles are telling their child about life and survival? The hummingbirds are also active in August. They are eating and drinking and squeaking as they prepare for their journey south. What do they tell their young about the journey that lies in front of them? This all typical of August on Lake Superior

Monarch chrysalis under a step

Sphinx moths and many bees are loving my late-blooming pollinator garden. The monarch caterpillars have become chrysalis , and I watch for new monarchs to emerge, and to my excitement they do!

A new monarch dries its wings.

Sadly, August is not like Melanie (above) describes in June. Signs of our warming climate are wearing on this big lake. Canadian wildfire smoke is creating a milky white sky and foggy horizon. Also, blue-green algae has been found along the south shore, probably caused by the yearly hundred year rains in the lake watershed. The watershed streams over-flow into the lake. Heavy rain run-off of lawn and agriculture chemicals causes a nutrient rich brown lake. Along with warm water these nutrients can lead to a blue-green algae problem. After the brown sediment filters out a greener color lake remains that has not been the Lake Superior norm. Read at blue-green algae

More on the changing climate and Lake Superior

Lake Superior is hidden by milky Canadian wildfire smoke, August 2018

The Mighty Mississippi

Leaves pollute our waterways!
Leaves pollute our waterways!

What we do to our land, we do to our river”  John Stein MPCA Commissioner

The Mississippi River, one of the longest rivers in the world begins in Minnesota and flows south into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River cuts the United States in half, into the east and the west.  An investigative report by the Minneapolis Startribune.com. reveals the environmental threats to the Mississippi River caused by agricultural pollution  and urban run-off. Many communities use the Mississippi River as their source of drinking water.  If we are polluting this great river at the head waters what is the future for all of us, and for the wildlife that also uses this river?  What is the future of the Gulf of Mexico as the Mississippi River carries pollution during its journey south?  What will be the state of drinking water through the middle of the United States?

 We all need to do better.
We all need to do better.

The storm drains on my street drain into the Mississippi. What we do on the land affects the Mississippi River.  As a trained water steward, I am encouraging urban dwellers to manage the run-off from their yards in a smarter way.  There is a new paradigm. Instead of getting the water off our land we are looking for ways to use water run-off by redirecting our gutters and down-spouts, and building rain gardens to capture the rainfall.

Not using chemicals, sweeping our sidewalks and streets, re-directing our down-spouts, building rain gardens, picking up trash, and recycling are just a few things the urban dweller can do to help the Mississippi River.  Agricultural interests are another thing, and they need to do their part. Part 3 of this series focuses on farmers along the Chippewa River giving hope:

“Raising the amount of land planted in such perennials by just 10 percentage points — from 24 percent to 34 percent of the Chippewa watershed’s 1.3 million acres — would be enough to tip the river from polluted to clean.

Some 25 landowners now participate, and if they can prove its premise — that a farmer can make money without polluting the Chippewa — they could be a model for protecting threatened rivers all across the Midwest.” Read part 3 report here.

A fun video on building a rain garden: