IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA
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  • 11/01/2019 11:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Since 2017 we have been giving out awards to our members and others for their outstanding contributions to the Chapter and conservation.  Below is a list of the awards and award winners.

    Bush Lake Chapter IWLA Awards 2019

    Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award- for member with outstanding contributions to the chapter in 2019. 

    • 1-      Paul Cress- Paul has been a member for several years and has been a huge asset to the Chapter. He built the paddleboard rack several years ago and always turns out for volunteer events and takes on special projects.  He almost single-handedly prepped the South Woodland Restoration in 2019- as others have said “He’s a beast!”  He’s been an integral member of the Dock Team as well as the Beaver Dam Team!  His attitude, skills, and demeanor are exemplary, and we thank him for all of his great work!
    • 2-      Bush Lake Board of Directors- for their outstanding contributions and volunteering the last several years. Special recognition should go to:  Paul Raymaker (photos, signs, Kids Crafts, Instagram- Check It Out!), Nancy Carlson (Canoes, Kids Crafts, Graphic Design), Rafael Bustos (signs and lodge/grounds help), Gregg Thompson (website, membership, Canoes, outlet, caretaker assistance/therapy and more), Louise Segreto (newsletter articles, history research, advocacy), Jill Crafton (treasurer, advocacy, watershed summit), Doug Claycomb (AIS monitoring, advocacy, education) Rick Wheeler (leadership, calming the ship, Chapter work), Tim Olish (Neighborhood Watch) and Paul Erdmann (misc).

    Gordy Bratsch Award- named after our old neighbor Gordy Bratsch that was the unofficial caretaker- he was committed to keeping Bush Lake clean- this award is given to a member that contributes to the chapter and the environment, year after year.

    Marilynn and Tom Torkelson.  They have been members of the Chapter for a few years and are always willing to help.  Marilynn has been active with our Plant Posse, this summer she helped out in the South Woodland Restoration, single-handedly removing a patch of non-native/invasive lily of the valley.  Marilynn is the President of the Wild Ones Prairie Edge Chapter in the west Metro.  Wild Ones works to educate others on native plant landscapes and gardening.  Marilynn and Tom have a beautiful yard in Eden Prairie that is almost entirely (if not entirely) native plants that also features rain gardens to improve water quality.  They frequently hold tours to educate others on how they can implement environmental practices in their own yards. They are active in their community, advocating for conservation.  Marilynn is also a Master Water Steward who works to improve water quality in her community.  She is also on the Citizens Advisory Committee at the Riley Purgatory Creek Watershed District, where she has been working on a restoration project at the Scenic Heights Elementary School, involving students and community members in this process.  Tom, I'm sure, helps Marilynn with all of this stuff and provides great support!  There are also probably quite a few other great things that they do that we don’t know about.  Please thank them for being great Defenders and all they do for conservation!

    Public Good Award- Award given to non-profit, city or public staff for their contributions to water quality, conservation, and/or the environment.

    Three Rivers Park District Natural Resource Staff and Richardson Nature Center Staff who are involved with restoration activities and prairie maintenance at Hyland Park/Richardson Nature Center as well as environmental education in our community.  Our Chapter caretakers frequently hike and bike in the park (as a nice get away from work at the Chapter) and are always excited and inspired by the beauty and diversity of the prairie and other lands in the park.  They have been especially impressed with and happy to see lots of work being done in the woodlands and with buckthorn removal in recent years. Other Chapter members enjoy Hyland and the Nature Center as well. The Bush Lake Chapter is fortunate to have this wonderful oasis of habitat not far from the Chapter, as it acts as anchor and conservation corridor for wildlife and helps to protect water quality. Additionally, Nature Center staff provide excellent nature and natural resources education to our community year-round, another very important asset for conservation!  We thank them for all of their great work!

    Bush Lake Commitment to Conservation Award- Given to an individual or organization inside or outside the organization that has contributed to restoration, habitat, and conservation in Minnesota.

    Ron Erdmann  He has played a huge role in restoring the Chapter property, from removing buckthorn and tree work and building and maintaining wildlife structures. For our Chapter’s wildlife he has built and donated bluebird houses, Great crested flycatcher houses, wren houses, bat houses, and even woodpecker bongos! In the summer he works for the MN DNR doing similar work at St. Croix State Park, and has worked throughout the state restoring the land, putting conservation in the ground, and creating wildlife habitat.  He’s planted thousands of trees, shrubs, and native plants, and has killed just as many invasive plants.  We often offer to pay him for his great work at the Chapter, but he always refuses and says that he is working for “Ike”- Izaak Walton.  Ron has been an inspiration to his brother, Paul, our caretaker, and without Ron, Paul would probably be an accountant or shoveling coal somewhere, and not our caretaker.  Let’s all thank Ron for his great contributions to the Chapter and to conservation!

    Youth Conservation Award- awarded to youth under the age of 21 for their outstanding contribution to the Chapter, conservation or the environment.

    Sam Hodges, whose family belongs to the Chapter, who repaired and renovated the Chapter playground for this Boy Scout Eagle Scout Project.  He has been a good communicator and took the initiative to approach the board and propose the idea.  This project was really, really needed.  He and his crew have did an excellent job on the playground in a very expedient fashion.  We thank Sam for his contributions and hope that he remembers the Chapter and conservation in his future plans. Thank you, Sam!

    Claire Carlson- Claire is a recent Jefferson High School graduate.  She served on the Bloomington Sustainability Commission and recently worked to revive Jefferson's Environmental Club.  She came to our planting day and brought friends with! She worked on recycling and solid waste issues at both the Commission and at Jefferson, making some cool videos that teach people the importance of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repurpose.  She is a good communicator and has a contagious passion that makes others want to get involved in environmental issues.  It’s encouraging to know that there are young people that are working to protect our planet and all of its creatures.  Let’s thank Claire for her great work!

    Bush Lake Chapter IWLA Awards 2018

    1) Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award- for member with outstanding contributions to the chapter in 2018.

    Rafael Bustos- he is a new member, but was quick to offer a hand and work on tasks around the chapter.

    Worked on bathouses- woodpeckers had pecked holes in all of them, he put aluminum sheeting on all of them.

    This is good because Paul and Liz counted 30 bats come out of 1 bathouse this year!

    (DOCK STORY)- Paul

    He’s more than happy to help any time we ask. Members that are always willing to help and spring into action is exactly what we need!

    2) Gordy Bratsch Award- named after our old neighbor Gordy Bratsch that was the unofficial caretaker- he was committed to keeping Bush Lake clean- this award is given to a member that contributes to the chapter and the environment, year after year.

    Louise Segreto- Kick started our fundraising campaign, serves as delegate to the State Division, serves as State Director alternate, is our Chapter historian, has written many great articles for our blog/newsletter, serves as our Wilderness advocate- has been working on the Utah Red Rocks Wilderness issue, and has put together a great Ikes Green Reads Book Club.

    Donated the historic sign.

    Jill Crafton- Jill Crafton is the treasurer of the Minnesota Division-Izaak Walton and Bush Lake Izaak Walton in which she has served for 15 years....hundreds and hundreds of hours every year.

    She is a National Director in the National Izaak Walton League. She served on the Executive Board E-Board of National for several years. And she is a leader in the "progressive" wing of the IKES (the people who actually believe in conservation) .

    She is on the board of the UMRI Upper Mississippi River Initiative, funded by MN IKEs and McKnight Foundation.

    She is the organizer and champion of the annual Izaak Walton Watershed Summit held every year at Normandale College, which attract the region's top ag water quality experts as presenters.

    She serves on the boards of the Riley Purgatory Watershed District in W. Bloomington and Eden Prairie, and BWSR, Minnesota Bureau of Water and Soil Resources, a state agency that has done much to protect Minnesota's waters.

    Jill is on the board of the Great Lakes Committee which is fighting against the introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes.

    She also serves on the board of Green Step Cities, a coalition of over 130 Minnesota cities that are pledged to becoming more sustainable. She is also in the leadership of the Minnesota Division Energy and Climate Committee.

    Jill has a beautiful prairie in her front yard, and is working on restoring her backyard to provide habitat for birds, pollinators and other wildlife. She has solar panels on the roof of her house, and drives a Prius. She walks the talk and leads by example.

    From John Crampton- Above all, she is a warm and loving grandmother of beautiful grandkids in Michigan, the oldest of which she took to Camp Izaak Walton at Deep Portage a year ago. And Jill is a dear friend of mine and has been since we urged the Bush Lake board to say the Izaak Walton pledge at the meeting many years ago..... When they refused, we got rid of them. And Jill went on to replace them all by her work ethic and tremendous passion for protecting our earth.

    3) Public Good Award- Award given to city or public staff for their contributions to water quality, conservation, and/or the environment.

    Bloomington Sustainability Commission- (being accepted by Steve Flagg who is on the commission and is a member of our chapter) this is a new commission for the City of Bloomington that has made great strides within the city on sustainability issues (Energy, Solid Waste, Water Quality/Conservation, and Ecological Land Stewardship). Here’s a few of the commission’s initiatives it has worked on in less than 2 years-

    Created the organics dropoff system- residents of Bloomington are able to drop off their organics at 3 sites across the city- this material is recycled into mulch instead of going to the landfill or being incinerated.

    Created an Energy Action Plan- this is a plan that works to reduce energy consumption across the City and reduce our carbon emissions

    Working on Water Conservation and Water Quality- the Commission is working to reduce water use across the City- because Bloomington’s water is too great to waste! They are also working to improve water quality in our lakes, creek, wetlands and ponds.

    Working on restoring the MN River Valley and other parks and open spaces within the City.

    The Bush Lake Chapter would like to thank the Bloomington Sustainability Commission for all of their great work!

    Commission Members:

    Mary Hurliman- City Staff Liaison

    Rob Bouta, Claire Carlson, Paul Erdmann, Steve Flagg, John Jaimez, Dwayne Lowmann, Bob Reid, Tim Sandry, Joe Strommen, and Deanna White.

    4) Bush Lake Commitment to Conservation Award- Given to an individual or organization inside or outside the organization that has contributed to restoration, habitat, and conservation in Minnesota.

    Heather and Brent Holm- Heather is an author and educator that has educated hundreds across the country on native pollinator decline and conservation. Her two books have won awards and are revered by both experts and newbies alike. She leads our pollinator field days and has helped us with our pollinator habitat restoration. She has identified several unique pollinator species that live at our chapter. She is one of the founding members of Wild Ones, Prairie Edge chapter, which is a native plant landscaping advocacy group in the West Metro. Heather of course couldn’t do all of this great work without a great partner- Brent was just here for our planting event last weekend. Heather and Brent are members of our chapter and have helped us kill buckthorn and restore habitat. They also volunteer on their own time to restore forgotten City parks in Minnetonka- (story about big hill and other project). Over the last 10 years, Heather and Brent have restored their home landscape by removing invasive species and impervious surface and planting native plants and creating habitat for wildlife. We thank Heather and Brent for their Commitment to Conservation!

    2017 Chapter Awards

    1) Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award- for member with outstanding contributions to the chapter in 2017.

    Esau Underhill, for his work on the lodge, commitment to the board, and other activities

    2) Gordy Bratsch Award- given to a member that contributes to the chapter and the environment, year after year.

    Dick Duerre- Dick has turned out for many events, has worked on the lodge, and has worked on his own to protect the environment

    3) Public Good Award- Award given to city or public staff for their contributions to water quality, conservation, and/or the environment.

    Nine Mile Creek Watershed District- (Erica Sniegowski, Gael Zembal, Randy Anhorn)

    4) Bush Lake Commitment to Conservation Award- Given to an individual or organization inside or outside the organization that has contributed to restoration, habitat, and conservation in Minnesota.

    Bill Bartodziej- Bill is one of the leading restoration ecologists in the metro, has played a leading role in the Lake Phalen shoreline restoration and numerous other restoration and water quality improvement projects (and is a potential new member!)

    5) Youth Conservation Award- awarded to youth for their outstanding contribution to conservation or the environment.

    Camille Jones- Camille is one of the few young people that regularly turn out for volunteer events. She is on the Environmental Club at Jefferson High School

  • 09/20/2019 12:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Louise Segreto

    There is a housing crisis brewing among birds and critters who make their homes in dead and dying trees. Countless bird and animal species are finding it increasingly difficult locating suitable tree cavities for nesting and caching food. Leading the list of species suffering habitat tree loss are woodpeckers. Red-headed woodpeckers, once an abundant bird, have been severely impacted by the loss of suitable habitat. (We were excited to see one of these beautiful birds at the Chapter this year!) Many other bird species also make their homes in tree cavities including owls, chickadees, nuthatches, tree swallows, flycatchers, wrens, brown creepers, bluebirds; and of course, our much-loved wood ducks. Additionally, numerous small mammals such as bats, squirrels and racoons, and reptiles, amphibians and insects are opportunists, utilizing pre-excavated cavities for food, caching and shelter. Many species of pollinators also utilize dead wood in their life cycles.

    Dead and dying trees are essential to forest ecology. They are the condominiums, nurseries and cafeterias of the forest. Such trees are often referred to as “habitat trees.” Other people call them “snags” or “wildlife trees.” Most cavities in trees begin by the work of fungus. Over time, fungus decays wood and makes it soft enough for woodpeckers to excavate. Woodpeckers have reinforced skulls and chisel-sharp beaks. They can work like jack hammers pecking 100-300 times per minute! Smaller woodpecker species need softer decayed wood to excavate. Tree cavities are also created in fire and wind damaged trees which are susceptible to successful fungal growth which in turn leads to exposed soft rotting wood. The Bush Lake Chapter has several habitat trees on the property, and we often leave logs and woody debris on the ground and build brush piles for wildlife.

    If you live in the suburbs, I challenge you to take a walk through your neighborhood. More likely than not, you will find very few dead and dying trees. Unfortunately, most homeowners have been taught to regard trees with dead and dying snag like features such as hollow trunks, excavated cavities and dead branches as eyesores. It is such dead and dying trees that offer birds and other wildlife the best sentry posts and cavity opportunities. Unfortunately, suburban aesthetics combined with the fear of increased risk of tree falls on homes and structures lead to the inevitable sound of chainsaws. Making matters worse, “problematic” trees are cut to the stump and trucked away. Fallen trees or cut tree logs from healthy non-diseased trees seldom are left on the ground to decompose for wildlife habitat and plant nursery logs (other plants take root in the moist conditions of the decomposing wood). These landscape management practices, combined with the lack of natural fire burns in suburban communities, and invasive species such as buckthorn are causing fierce competition for the few tree cavities that are available for wildlife.

    In light of all of this, I have been considering allowing a dying white oak tree at my home to remain as a “habitat tree.” Here are some ideas to consider:

    Trees that are safety hazards to people or structures should generally be removed. Trees that have died from invasive species, such as emerald ash borer, or diseases like oak wilt, should generally be removed in order to keep these problems from spreading to healthy trees. Contact your City forester or certified arborist for help.

    Trees to be made into or left as Habitat Trees should be solid enough to withstand the elements. Certified arborists can help “shape” and diagnose good Habitat Trees.

    “Topping” a tree (cutting the top off, including branches to decrease wind resistance) can pave the way to a high-quality wildlife tree that can stand for many decades and provide habitat for numerous species.

    Unwanted or suitable habitat trees that are still alive can be girdled- use a saw to cut rings around the base of the tree just on the outer bark. Some people remove the bark exposing the living part of the tree. This will effectively kill the tree and in a few years, you may have a habitat tree.

    Finally, there is the issue of explaining your Habitat Tree to your neighbors! Over the years, my neighbors have come to enjoy the increase in wildlife due to our wildlife plantings and habitat projects. And, for those who may still be puzzled, I plan on posting my proud oak with a small yellow and black sign: “Habitat Tree.”

    If you don’t have space, don’t have dead trees, or don’t want habitat trees- you can do the next best thing- buy or build bat houses, wood duck, bluebird, or other bird houses. These bird houses are replicating tree cavities, and many bird species take to them regularly. Visit the links below for more information.

    https://extension.psu.edu/dead-wood-for-wildlife

    https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Cover/Trees-and-Snags

    https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/null/?cid=nrcs142p2_008674

    https://webapps8.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer_index/past_issues/article_pdf?id=1798


  • 08/23/2019 10:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Louise Segreto, Chapter Historian

    We have a lot to be proud of as Bush Lake Chapter Ikes. Our Chapter has always been a recognized leader for great conservation and environmental advocacy work. Here are 6 important things that you should know about our rich Bush Lake Chapter legacy:

    1. Our Chapter was first organized in 1931 by a group of successful south Minneapolis businessmen. Its first meeting place was a 2nd floor space in a building located on the corner of 54th Street and Nicollet Avenue in South in Minneapolis. There were 26 original Charter Members. Our present Lodge on Bush Lake in Bloomington was purchased in 1936. Our original charter hangs on the wall of the lodge and notes we were officially incorporated into the Izaak Walton League of America on November 10th, 1937.

    2. The original name of our Chapter was the “Minnesota Riverbottoms Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA)”, because our first service project was cleaning up the Minnesota River Bottoms. Shortly thereafter, our Chapter name was changed to the “South Minneapolis Chapter of the IWLA” (see our hand painted metal sign inside our Lodge, a replica of the original Chapter sign that likely hung above the gate) and in 1992 our Chapter name was changed again to the “Bush Lake Chapter of the IWLA”.

    3. “South Wind” was the monthly print Chapter bulletin that was published from 1955-1962. (Remember our Chapter name was at the time: “South Minneapolis Chapter” hence the name of the publication) Ed Franey was the newsletter’s editor and Neil Buchanan, who owned a printing company, published it. Members with businesses generously contributed what they could to get things done at the Chapter. South Wind played a prominent role in the “Save Minnesota’s Wetlands” fundraising and advocacy campaign (1951-1954), led by legendary Bush Lake Chapter IWLA member and leaders- Richard J. Dorer and Ed Franey. The publication helped recruit other Minnesota Izaak Walton Chapters to contribute to its cause. The “Save Minnesota’s Wetlands” initiative was instrumental in buying back wetlands that were filled and drained as a result of prior federal subsidies that the U.S. Department of Agriculture set-up to encourage filling and draining wetlands to the detriment of waterfowl habitat.

    4. After the successful “Save our Wetlands” campaign, Richard (“Dick”) J. Dorer and Ed Franey went on to almost single-handedly convince county commissioners and other politicians, the Minnesota State Legislature and DNR, to establish in 1958 the Richard J. Dorer Minnesota Memorial Hardwood Forest (today almost 1,000,000 acres). This designation protects forest lands, bluffs and prairies running about 105 miles along the west shore of the Mississippi River from Hastings to the Iowa border.

    5. The Bush Lake Chapter over the years has led numerous conservation projects. From establishing the Bass Ponds in east Bloomington which were used to stock lakes across the metro area, to our Canada Goose Projects in the 1940s, raising and reintroducing Canada Geese to Rebecca and Hyland Lakes, to our 1950s Over-Winter Pheasant Feeding Projects, Mallard duck rearing projects, and tree planting work at various parks in Bloomington. These projects tied into our first founders’ original motivation for forming the Izaak Walton League. They were avid sportsmen and women trying to preserve hunting and fishing habitat and outdoor recreation for all.

    6. If you would like to learn more about the “Save the Wetlands” Campaign (starring Jill Crafton our Chapter Treasurer) and the establishment of the “Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest,” take the time to view 2 short YouTube Videos produced by John Crampton (Present Bush Lake Chapter Member and past Chapter and Minnesota Division President): Save Our Wetlands Video Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest Video

    Probing into our Chapter’s history has been a messy endeavor: wading through our dusty and moldy file cabinets for old Chapter records and trying to track down boxes of files delivered years ago to the Bloomington Historical Society for safe keeping. If there is anyone out there in our membership who would like to join me to sort through these boxes once they are rediscovered, please contact me. I sure could use some assistance! If you have been a member here for many years, we would love to see your pictures of the Chapter and hear your stories.

    On my journey to uncover some of our Chapter’s history, I found a 1991, 8 -Track Tape interview of past Bush Lake Chapter President Truman Ingersoll. “Tru” was President of our Chapter in 1949. I was moved by Tru’s stories of the social glue that knit our Chapter together during years past. He fondly recounts Ice Fishing Derbies on Bush Lake in the 1950s with color tvs and aluminum boats as prizes, members’ fishing trips to southern and northern Minnesota, annual Corn-Roasts of the 1960/70s, Halloween Parties, Winter Fun Fairs, and of course- Canoe Races on Bush Lake (this tradition continues today- join us on September 29th for our Annual Member Meeting). Tru’s folksy voice from the past could be all too easily be discounted as being from “more simple times”. But, social connectiveness among our members and a sense of shared purpose and community is even more important today than in the past. Join our Chapter in some of our scheduled activities and play a role in writing future Chapter history!


  • 06/10/2019 6:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto, Chapter Historian

    The Minnesota River is a remarkable river that deserves more attention and respect than it receives. This Spring, I made a concerted effort to get to know her better. What sparked my interest was a chance encounter with a grizzled fisherman that boasted of catching a 50”, 80-pound flathead catfish that he caught in the River near the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. When I teased and challenged him about the size of the alleged fish, he snail mailed me proud photos from his corkboard to prove it.

    Standing on the River’s bank looking into the swiftly flowing chocolate colored water, I swirled back in time. The Minnesota River Valley was carved by the torrential glacial River Warren (about 12,000 years ago) at the end of the last ice age. The River Warren flowed from the meltwaters of glaciers that once covered most of northwest Minnesota and southern Canada. When the glaciers melted, they formed ancient Lake Agassiz (700 miles long, 200 miles wide). And when Lake Agassiz overfilled its banks, the River Warren was formed, raging through the Minnesota Valley and scouring out a 5-mile swath. Today the Minnesota River flows as just a narrow ribbon down the wide valley. A great place to view the wide Valley is at the overlook parking lot at Eden Prairie’s Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area. The view there will put this geologic history into perspective and take your breath away.

    Fast forward to present. The Minnesota River flows about 370 miles, from its headwaters at the Minnesota/South Dakota border just north of Ortonville and Big Stone Lake to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Ft. Snelling. The landscape of the Minnesota River Valley is naturally vulnerable to erosion. And, being a tributary of the Mississippi, the Minnesota carries and dumps heavy loads of sediment from erosion into the Mississippi and downstream Lake Pepin. Phosphorus from over-fertilized farmlands in the Minnesota Valley fuels excessive algae growth. Herbicide and pesticide contaminants from agricultural runoff flow into the River. Further contributing to the River’s maladies is pollution from contagions and pathogens from failing residential septic systems, and various land uses and commercial development in the watershed. Last but not least, due to climate change, the increased frequency and intensity of rain events make all of the foregoing worse.

    Nevertheless, despite all of its present-day woes, the Minnesota River is a true “Minnesotan”. Geographically it is fully contained within the State of Minnesota. Its huge watershed of approximately 17,000 square miles is responsible for accepting drainage from almost 20% of the total land area of Minnesota. And, despite its impairments, the River continues to sustain strong populations of fish (catfish, sheepshead, northern pike, small mouth bass and bullheads) and is a major migratory flyway for birds. This flyway is even more important to migrating birds in the aftermath of extensive drain tiling of what used to be the expansive prairie pothole lakes region of Minnesota and South Dakota.

    Because of the rich soils of the Minnesota River Valley, agricultural interests have always been strong here. Le Sueur is credited with being the birthplace of the canning industry spokesman, the Jolly Green Giant in 1903. During the 1930s the Valley was the USA’s largest producer of sweet corn. Today, the fields are predominately filled with corn and soybeans. Some good news is that more and more farmers are giving careful thought to innovative farming practices that reduce erosion and the need for over fertilizing. And, there is much discussion about how to increase soil health in the Minnesota River Valley and beyond.

    What’s up with all the French names? One cannot but notice the number of French place names that abound in the Valley: Le Sueur, Belle Plaine, St. Pierre (St. Peter) and Lac Qui Parle. These French names are a lasting tribute to the importance of early French explorers in the 1600s to this area. Prior to the coming of early European explorers and settlements, the Minnesota River Valley was the home of Native Americans stretching back to very early times. The River Valley supplied fish, game, and water to these early peoples. It is not unusual for archeologists to be called in to examine the contents of burial mounds and pottery artifacts discovered in road and construction projects in the area.

    It was along the banks of the Minnesota River just a few miles north of Mankato that the infamous Treaty of Traverse des Sioux was “signed” by Dakota leaders from the Sisseton and Wahpeton tribes ceding nearly 24,000,000 acres of land (including lands ceded under the Treaty of Mendota) west of the Mississippi in 1851 to the US government in exchange for cash, annuities and goods. Sadly, most of these promises were never delivered by the U.S. to the Tribes.  Learn more about Minnesota River History by clicking here.

    What happens to the direction Minnesota River at Mankato is crazy! It is as if Paul Bunyan had a few too many and decided to put a ninety-degree bend in the River. At Mankato, the south easterly flowing River takes a hard bend to the north east and continues on towards Minneapolis. Spoiler: the underlying bedrock around Mankato is responsible for this phenomenon.

    The Minnesota River has several faces, starting at its most northern stretch it is rather straight and steep banked, lined with stately cottonwoods, silver maples, ash and basswood. At Granite Falls the River’s sides are lined with ancient granite gneiss rock outcroppings, over 3.6 billion years old (the Earth is only 4.54 billion years old). And at Redwood Falls to New Ulm, the River becomes passive and windy.

    Lately, there has been a lot written about the water quality challenges facing the Minnesota River. Rising nitrate levels are threatening Mankato’s drinking water which is drawn from shallow wells, water quality is continuing to deteriorate, and the Minnesota River is to blame for dumping excessive amounts of silt and sediment downstream into the Mississippi River causing a whole host of problems.

    Yet, for better or worse, the Minnesota River flows through Bloomington’s back yard. We must care about it. One non-profit group who does cares a lot is the Friends of the Minnesota Valley whose mission is to protect and enhance the natural resources of the Minnesota Valley River Watershed, including the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. According to Ted Suss, President of the Minnesota Valley Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, and someone who is heavily involved in the work of the Friend’s “River Watch” water monitoring program, the Program is “going strong”. The River Watch Program engages high school students to get out and do River water quality monitoring on a long-term consistent basis using Minnesota Pollution Control Agency protocols to build a database that can be used by others working on trying to understand water quality issues and policy. This year, 10 high school teams are sampling River water and 14 teams are committed for next year.

    But, too many of us speed over the River in vehicles as we travel along Hwy 169 or 35W and give the River just a passing thought and nod. Others of us may bike, hike, trail run, x-country ski, snow shoe along the trails along the River and may know the Minnesota River more intimately. But, really understanding this River and challenges that it is facing is complex. Take some time to discover the Minnesota River: from its important role in Minnesota history, to its importance to food production, to its subtle natural beauty. Consider supporting the River Watch Program. Stay informed about political issues that affect the River. The Minnesota River needs our help and full attention. As a member of the Izaak Walton League, think about what you can do to rally behind this unsung heroine of a River.

    Images courtesy: Wikipedia (map) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (water monitoring photo)

  • 04/07/2019 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto

    Spring brings a welcome explosion of operatic natural sounds. As daylight lengthens and temperatures rise, each day brings new voices from a huge cast of living organisms communicating about the most important things in their lives: feeding, defending territory, reproducing, and avoiding predators. Most of us look forward to hearing the overhead honking of geese, the trilling of red winged blackbirds returning to their wetland marshes and choruses of spring peepers chirping in ephemeral ponds. All these familiar sounds are aural evidence of emerging voices joining the opera that unfolds each spring. However, there is so much more going on in nature than we can ascertain with our naked ears.

    Soundscape Ecology is a new field of study that explores the acoustic relationships between living organisms, humans and other sounds of our natural and built environment. It allows us to probe deeper into the deeper complexities of our soundscapes. And, through scientific monitoring, scientists can monitor a place’s natural soundscape to determine a measure of its ecosystem health.

    Scientists categorize sound as arising out of 3 sources:

    • “Biophony” sounds created by living things;
    • “Anthrophony” sounds created by human activity like the sounds of traffic, airplanes and radios; and,
    • “Geophony” sounds created by non-living sources like weather, wind and water.

    By using scientific methodology and collecting sound recordings from sensitive outdoor microphones, acoustic spectrograms can be evaluated and analyzed. Analysis of acoustic spectrograms can tell us about the well being of vocal individual organisms and the overall quality of biological diversity and ecological community health in an area. Such soundscape methodologies have led to new insights into the complex communications in nature both intra and inter species.

    I find it fascinating that there are many sounds occurring around us that we are not biologically capable of hearing. Sound frequency is measured in hertz (hz). A hertz is defined as one wave cycle per second. Human hearing starts at around 20 hz and tops out at about 20,000 hz; with best hearing range between 1,000 -5000 hz the range of human speech. (Perhaps that is why we love to hear ourselves talk!) So, for example, despite all your efforts to learn to listen better, you will still not be able to hear the ultrasonic sounds of bats emitting at about 110,000 hz or the sound of earth worms boring beneath your feet.

    But, even though high tech sound monitoring tools are not available for casual naturalists, if you listen more attentively, you can train yourself to hear much more. Unplug from your cell phone and ear-buds and try listening for the more subtle sounds of spring. Some studies claim that you can sharpen your sense of hearing by listening to music, especially alternating genres that are clearly distinct from one another. I find that actively listening can be cultivated by just finding a comfortable “sit spot” which I repeatedly return to at dawn and dusk. My favorite is out front of my house near my bird feeders (with a glass of wine in the evenings!) where I go to sit and listen with my eyes closed for about 10-15 minutes each sit. It is a meditation of sorts, but I promise you that it will put you more in touch with your soundscape.

    Izaak Walton would tell us “study to be quiet”. Let’s all commit to listening more carefully this Spring!


  • 03/05/2019 7:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto

    Sheltering myself from the biting January wind blowing across the flat expanse of what used to be endless native prairie, I crouch behind a huge Buffalo Rubbing Rock at Jeffers Petroglyphs. Jeffers Petroglyphs is located in southwestern Minnesota about 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities. Large rocks like this were used by buffalo to rub against to rid themselves of molting heavy winter coats and scratch irritating bug bites. The Rubbing Rock that I am leaning against is a huge glacial boulder, about 10 feet high, polished to a high sheen by the rubbing of countless American Plains Bison over the many years before they were driven to near extinction by the late 1800s. I grow somber thinking about the alarming rate that many other species across the globe are following the path of the buffalo towards extinction.

    The Rubbing Rock stands as a steadfast reminder along a trail through a small restored prairie at Jeffers. This Rock looks as though it came from outer space, an erratic, dropped atop the horizontal outcropping of pink Sioux quartzite by retreating glaciers millions of years ago. Jeffers Petroglyphs is a part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s network of historic sites. The horizontal rock outcroppings inscribed with pictorial petroglyphs from pre-contact Native Americans earn Jeffers Petroglyphs its name.

    Geologically striking places like Jeffers were deeply spiritual to Native Americans who believed that they were portals to the spiritual world. So, perhaps it is not surprising that I would feel haunted by the ghosts of the thunderous herds of Buffalo who once made these endless prairie lands of North America their home. I cannot help but think that there must be some deep wisdom to be learned from the spirit Buffalo as I sit huddled beside the Rock.

    Let’s clear up some confusion: there is no difference in North America between the American Plains Bison, the name scientists prefer, and the more generic “buffalo”. It is the same animal. Within the proverbial historical blink of an eye, almost 10 million Buffalo were hunted and driven to near extinction starting in the 1600s when Native Americans began to hunt buffalo on horseback, followed by the push of early U.S. settlers on the east coast buffalo range, to the loss of grass land habitat caused by droughts, and the plow for farming. The final slaughter occurred after the Civil War when the rail-roads were developing and buffalo were slaughtered by the millions to meet European demand for hides and just hunted for wasteful sport. We obliterated the species.

    Ironically, by the time President Theodore Roosevelt (determined to make U.S. coins more attractive) had the Buffalo/Indian Head nickel designed and minted between the years 1913-1938, the buffalo herds had disappeared and only about 1,000 buffalo are believed to have survived in the U.S. Adding further insult to injury, the buffalo image on the coin is reputed to have been modeled after a large ornery captive male buffalo named “Black Diamond” who resided at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Perhaps it is more historically accurate to regard the buffalo nickel as a “memorial token” to a species extinction.

    If the Buffalo, such an iconic symbol of our Nation’s great American west, could be hunted to the brink of extinction, what hope do other much less noticeable and less charismatic animals have today under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA)? And, with the Trump Administration’s assault on the ESA, there is even more reason to be disheartened. In the spring of 2018, there were no fewer than six Congressional bills pending aimed at gutting the protections of the ESA, ranging from undermining the scientific listing process of getting a species on the endangered species list to thwarting new listings based upon economic analysis based on projected losses to lumber, ranching, mining and other special interests. Nevertheless, we must not give up and lose hope. Environmental legislative battles are not won overnight; they are waged over many years. We Ikes are known for our tenacity to fight long term environmental wars. The spirit Buffalo urge us to remain vigilant about proposed changes to the ESA that weaken protections.

    While the American Plains Bison is neither on the Federal Endangered Species list, nor Minnesota’s Endangered and Threatened Species Act, it is “ecologically extinct” meaning that the species can not exist on its own without assistance from man. Buffalo need prairie grasses to graze to survive. At one time prairie habitat covered about one-third of the Minnesota. Unfortunately, today, little more than 1% of Minnesota’s prairie exist in fragmented parcels.

    Minnesota is proud to have approximately 140 Buffalo who are “wards of the State” in the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd (MBCH). In 2012, the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Zoo partnered together on establishing this Herd for the “public good”. The MBCH is an effort to maintain the high-quality genetics of at least the few remaining Buffalo survivors in Minnesota. It is managed at 3 different sites: Blue Mounds State Park, Minneopa State Park and the Minnesota Zoo. Additionally, a growing number of private landowners in Minnesota have begun to maintain small herds of Buffalo after learning about the benefit of buffalo to soil health and their important ecological role in the grassland environmental community.

    We must never forget the plight of the Buffalo.

    Images courtesy (from top) Minnesota Historical Society, Wikipedia, National Park Service.



  • 01/02/2019 7:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto, Chapter Historian

    Recently, I visited the new Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus in Falcon Heights. The Museum has reinvented itself from its cramped, dark and poorly accessible former home at the University’s main campus. With a construction and relocation budget of almost $80 million plus lots of creative thought, the Bell Museum has been transformed into a world class natural history museum of which Minnesotans can be proud. There is so much to learn and explore at the Bell for all ages, but it’s the Museum’s amazing wildlife dioramas that will transport you to another place!

    The Museum was originally created by the Minnesota legislature in 1872 to preserve a record of our State’s birds, wildlife, plant life and geology. It was named after James Ford Bell, the founder of General Mills and an early conservationist. The late 1800s were a time of ecological exploitation and rampant disregard for protecting the environment. Our buffalo herds (originally 25-30 million) across the Great Plains were slaughtered almost to extinction by the late 1800s. And, our skies were no longer blackened by passenger pigeons flying overhead. The women’s millinery (hat) trade alone wiped out millions of birds during this dark period. Even back then, people were becoming alarmed about the loss of habitat and polluted waters.

    Early naturalists like Minnesota’s famed birder, T.S. Roberts, and several young colleagues formed an informal group called “The Youth Naturalist Society” who collected nests, eggs and birds for the Museum’s first collections. They hunted and killed birds and wildlife. During these years, “shotgun ornithology” was the accepted collection practice for the Museum since there was an absence of legislation protecting birds and wildlife.

    Before dioramas, early natural history museums were uninspiring “dead zoos” of stuffed animal skins and dusty cabinets full of curious natural history collections. For those that are not familiar with dioramas, they are three-dimensional realistic life size views of nature enclosed by glass with naturalistically painted foregrounds and backgrounds that were very popular in the 1890s. Backgrounds painted on a slightly curved surface provide a perspective that allow viewers a sense of immersion in the scene depicted. Taxidermied animals posed in groups exhibiting natural behaviors make the scene come to life. The Bell Museum’s Dioramas are world class amazing works of both art and cultural history. The fine attention to detail in the Bell Dioramas is amazing having been painted and prepared by famous naturalists/artists of the times: Walter Breckenridge (an Izaak Walton League Member with a Izaak Walton Chapter named after him) and Francis Lee Jaques (illustrator of many of Sigurd Olson’s books, also the namesake of a Chapter). Originally, the purpose of natural history dioramas was to educate the public about the growing need for habitat conservation in a museum setting. Over 100 years later, the Bell Museum is still continuing that mission. The Bell’s Dioramas have been refreshed and audio sound tracks and other interactivity have been added to further enhance the experience.

    The story of the Bell Museum’s Dioramas, how they were made and how they were painstakingly moved from the old building to the new Bell is fascinating and is the subject of the co-production Twin Cities PBS-TPT/Bell Museum’s film: “Windows to Nature” (26 min). View it on-line free by clicking here

    Over 45 years ago, my mother took me to see the magnificent Akeley Hall of African Mammals at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. The experience profoundly changed my thinking about the world. The Akeley Hall Dioramas taught me that the world was a phenomenally beautiful and diverse place. My curiosity was kindled about far-away places that I could then only dream about. As I recently walked through the Bell Museum, I stopped and observed some young girls standing quietly in front of a large diorama of the shore of Lake Pepin (Sand Point at Frontenac State Park) showcasing a large assortment of birds calling to one another with the stunning beauty of the surrounding bluff lands across the expanse of the Mississippi River in the background. I recognized the same look of awe and wonder in their eyes! For children and nature lovers of all ages, we highly recommend a visit to the new Bell Museum!

    Lake Pepin- Background by Frances Lee Jaques, Foreground by Walter Breckenridge, Photo by Tom Nelson, University of Minnesota

    Lake Pepin Diorama Bell Museum Tom Nelson

  • 11/30/2018 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto

    Ikes (Izaak Walton League members) have passed on their Legacy of loyalty and commitment to the ideals and mission of the Izaak Walton League for almost 100 years. The more Ikes that I meet, the more I am reminded about how important the League has been to members who feel compelled to pass on their outdoor heritage and Legacy in the League to their family and friends. But, it seems that there are more challenges today than ever before with passing the torch to our next generation of Ikes. Speaking from personal experience, being married with two daughters, finding time as a family to be outdoors requires lots of planning and prioritizing to work around busy schedules and endless other options competing for free time.

    A “legacy” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary generally to mean something that is transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past. Someone who I can’t remember once said: “It is what we leave in them that matters most. Possessions and wealth do not a true legacy make.”

    With this in mind, I think about what I can do to pass on my Ike’s Legacy. If you were to speak to my family and friends, they would likely relate a funny story: sitting for hours in a blind at Crex Meadows outside of Grantsburg, Wisconsin in the wee hours of the morning to see male sharp-tail grouse do his courtship dance, a spring expedition to Rainey River on a grey windy day bobbing in a small boat getting seasick while waiting for the behemoth sturgeon to bite, or our multiday dogsledding and camping expedition outside of Ely on a subzero February weekend when my family almost became human popsicles. We all have stories like these that we laugh about, retell over and over, and which over time become bigger than they were in reality. It is these shared memories of outdoor experiences that pass on our Ike’s passion to advocate for our natural world and allow us to pass on our Legacy. All it takes is time, planning and a non-selfish attitude to invite someone with less experience and skills to join you on such outdoor adventures.

    Those of us with hunting and fishing traditions may have an easier time of passing the torch. The annual duck hunt, deer hunt, or fishing trip is firmly ingrained in many family/extended family traditions. These multi-day activities create intergenerational social glue which forms the fertile grounds for Legacies to be created arising out of shared deep connections to nature and the outdoors. But, even for those who do not have hunting and fishing traditions, there are so many other opportunities that allow for intergenerational outdoor experiences: foraging for wild mushrooms and berries, nature photography, long distance hiking, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, or canoeing. And for those less physically active, perhaps a family trip to a nearby nature center, a road trip up to northern Minnesota to Sax-Zim Bog to go owling (looking for owls), or a spring expedition to the Platte River in Nebraska to witness the amazing Sandhill Crane and Snow Goose migration. The list can go on and on.

    And, for those non-sporting traditionalists, there are endless ways to make an activity unique and “Instagram worthy.” Why not rent a “princess palace” ice house on Lake Mille Lacs with curtains and a flat screen tv and plan a poetry reading with chocolate fondue and champagne? (Don’t judge, I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how I ice fish!) The times may require more creative hooks to entice less outdoorsy people to venture outside. And, I think it really helps to be open to using modern technology and nature related phone apps to bridge the generational gap.

    Heading into the holidays is the perfect time to give some thought to what you are doing to pass on your Ike Legacy. The gift of time spent outdoors as a role model or mentor to friends and family by inviting them to join you on an outdoor adventure will be far more memorable than another raft of wrapped presents under the tree. Or, what about gifting an Izaak Walton League membership to a friend or family member? The intangible memories and lessons that we pass on to others in the outdoors is part of being an Ike. I urge you to take some time to think about your Ike’s Legacy. If we don’t, we run the risk of there being no one to hand the torch to when we are gone.

    And, speaking of not being around forever, please do not forget the Izaak Walton League Bush Lake Chapter in your year-end charitable giving and estate planning. With so many funding cutbacks, your generous gift is more meaningful than ever before. Here’s to a Happy Holiday Season and many new adventures in the New Year!


  • 10/27/2018 10:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto

    Fall is a fabulous time to switch up your foliage tradition and view the leaf colors at our often forgotten statewide Scientific and Natural Areas (“SNAs”).   There are 168 SNAs scattered around the State of Minnesota and several in the Twin Cities metro area.  Minnesota’s first SNAs were established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1969 to preserve and protect unique lands and waters that have natural features, plants and animals of exceptional scientific and educational value. SNAs are public lands that offer some of the best of what Minnesota has to offer in the natural world. They offer opportunities for solitude and exploration off the beaten trail.


    Scientific & Natural Areas in our region. MNDNR 








    Ikes have always advocated for the establishment and protection of public lands, so in keeping with this tradition on National Public Land’s Day (Sept. 22nd), I decided to visit Lost Valley Prairie SNA in Hastings. I volunteered with a small group of like -minded folks collecting prairie seeds at this remarkable remnant prairie. I have driven past Hastings many times, but never knew that Lost Valley Prairie even existed.  What a hidden gem!  A beautiful bedrock bluff prairie featuring a series of limestone ridges and original prairie swales.

     

    Lost Valley does have a trail (SNAs frequently don’t) but like most other SNAs there is neither drinking water, nor restrooms. There was only minimal signage along with a small kiosk with a map and some information about the unique features of the SNA. 

     

    But, everything you need to know to get started can be found at the Minnesota DNR’s website:  https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/index.html  The names, locations, and short descriptions of all of Minnesota’s SNAs,  along with area maps with how to access and where to park are all on-line. Consider getting involved in volunteer work and special events at an SNA. And, several SNAs are looking for a Site Steward. Site Steward applications are on-line and serving simply requires that you visit the site about once a month and submit observations 4X per year. Sounds like a dream volunteer job assignment to me.  There is also a great non-profit organization, Friends of Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas, which was formed to advocate for the establishment, use, management, and perpetuation of Minnesota's SNAs in an undisturbed natural state. Many Ikes are involved in this organization- check them out and support their efforts here: www.snafriends.org

    SNAs are open all year round, but parking and access roads may not be regularly maintained/plowed.  Great snowshoe and cross country ski opportunities!  Bring a compass or GPS and be sure to access the DNR’s website for maps before you leave home in case your cell coverage is weak at the location. Be safe and don’t forget to wear your blaze orange during hunting seasons since many SNAs allow hunting. Leave your berry and mushroom baskets home because picking/harvesting is allowed only at a few areas. 

    Do your part as an Ike and help support our SNAs in Minnesota!  

    I am headed next to Wolsfeld Woods in Long Lake, a remnant Big Woods tract that should have some beautiful autumn colors. And, then on to Savage Fen in Scott County for a change of scenery.  Hoping I’ll bump into you at a SNA soon!   


  • 08/08/2018 8:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Louise Segreto

    Watching the fierce green fire die in the eyes of a wolf that he had mindlessly hunted and shot in a remote Arizona rim rock canyon, Aldo Leopold had an epiphany. He came to the realization that humans have a moral responsibility to the natural world. Because we are a part of the broader natural community consisting of the complex interrelationships between soils, water, plants and animals (collectively, the land), we have an ethical duty to care about preserving and safeguarding the relationships to the land. This way of thinking was a major departure from the then accepted widespread mindset in the U.S., that humans must dominate the wild and that all that is wild should solely serve man for utilitarian purposes.

    Over the years, Leopold (1887-1948) a trained forester, conservationist, educator, philosopher and writer, refined his thoughts into a Land Ethic that needs to be rekindled in our troubled times of environmental assaults and looming environmental threats.  His timeless book of essays, “A Sand County Almanac”, published in 1949, is both a seasonal account of Leopold’s keen nature observations on a worn -out, 80 acre, farm outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Here he lived with his family for years, working with the land to restore it to ecological health. “A Sand County Almanac” is an impassioned plea for a wilderness philosophy and our need for a sustainable land ethic. 

     

    Join us for two evenings to learn more about Aldo Leopold!

     

    On Thursday, September 13 at 6:30 PM at the Bush Lake Chapter Lodge we will  screen the Emmy Award winning film: “Green Fire” (approx. 60 min).  “Green Fire” explores the life and legacy of Aldo Leopold and the many ways that his land ethic lives on in the work of people and organizations all over the country

     

    Chapter historian, Louise Segreto, will introduce the film and lead the first session of a two evening Ike’s Green Reads book discussion about “A Sand County Almanac”.  The second discussion evening will be held on another Thursday evening in October- date to be announced. 


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