Bush Lake Chapter

Izaak Walton League of America

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  • 01/18/2022 3:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Since 2014, the Bush Lake Chapter has participated in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the longest running survey of American bird populations ever conducted. Chapter members and friends head out a week before Christmas and count all birds heard and seen around Bush Lake, Tierney's Woods, and area parks.  

    In 2021, the highlights of the Bush Lake count were a Red-shouldered hawk (likely one of a pair that nests here in the summer) and a Northern shrike, which was spotted in the prairie on the south side of the lake.  Steph also spotted Common redpolls on the south side of the lake.  If you feed birds, keep an eye out for these sporadic visitors from Canada.  Thanks to the brave souls that participated! 

    Below is the summary of the Excelsior Area CBC, which Bush Lake is a part of.  Courtesy Howard T., Excelsior Area CBC coordinator. 

    "The 70th edition of the Excelsior Christmas Bird Count was held on December 18, 2021, under weather conditions that were quite normal for this time of year. Seventy-four field counters and 14 feeder watchers participated, including 25 counters working at Carver Park under the direction of Park Naturalist Kirk, ten counters from the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League coordinated by Paul, and nine counters from the West Metro Chapter of the Minnesota Master Naturalist organized by Mary Beth. The combined efforts of all resulted in a total of 56 species and 5,758 individuals being observed during the day. While 56 species fell far short of last year’s record-tying and state-leading 68 species, it was almost identical to the 20-year average of 57 species for our count. The 5,758 individuals counted was quite typical of years when Lake Minnetonka is frozen, sending large numbers of Common Mergansers that stage there on their way south. By comparison, last year’s total was 15,991 individuals, the second highest total ever for this count. This year there were a total of 20 Common Mergansers compared to last year’s total of 2,810; there were 146 Canada Geese compared to last year’s total of 2,012; and there were 1,863 Mallards, far less than last year’s total of 4,495.

    Some of the more notable sightings and other observations from this year’s count:

    · Renner and Martha found two Green-winged Teal south of the Minnesota River near Shakopee. These were the first on the count since 2010.

    · The count’s only American Coot was found by the team of Dick, Charlie and Bonnie who have been doing the count together since Noah’s ark landed – well almost. Coots have been found on the count every year since 1991, so having only a single bird was noteworthy.

    · Speaking of single birds, only one Ring-necked Pheasant was reported for the second year in a row by the Carver Park crew. Pheasant used to be quite abundant on the count (301 were tallied in 1978), but they have been steadily decreasing in the past 15-20 years with increased urbanization in the circle. We’ve never totally missed on them, but I suspect it will happen in the near future.

    · For the third consecutive year, only a single Red-shouldered Hawk was seen, this one by the Izaak Walton group. This species has been seen on 10 of the past 20 years, but never more than one or two birds. The Izaak Walton crew also found the count’s only Common Redpolls, a group of 10.

    · A Northern Saw-Whet Owl was found by Michelle and Rod  at Carver Park, only the third one found in the past 20 years on count day. These cuties are probably more common than those figures would indicate at Carver, but their small size and reclusive nature make them a tough find.

    · One of the most remarkable observations on the count came from feeder watcher Sue who photographed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in her yard. This was only the second sighting in the 70 years of the Excelsior count. Although a few sapsuckers linger in Minnesota every winter, they have been avoiding our count assiduously.

    · Another uncommon bird on the Excelsior count, the Merlin, was observed by Nathan and Barb in the Chaska area. This marks the third consecutive winter for spotting this falcon, but only the sixth in the past 20 years.

    · A Carolina Wren that has been seen nearly daily at the feeders of Bruce and Lori  in Minnetonka cooperated on count day, providing only the third record in the past 20 years. With the warming climate in Minnesota, expect to see more and more of this southern species.

    · A group of four Eastern Bluebirds seen at Carver Park was the fourth record in the past ten years. This is another species that we’re likely to see more and more of in Minnesota winters with milder conditions. The counts only Red-winged Blackbirds also were found at Carver Park.

    · Two late White-throated Sparrows seen at the feeders of Paul in Chanhassen were the only reported on the count. We’ve only missed this species three times in the past 20 years, as a few usually stick around at feeders long enough for our CBC.

    · A single Common Grackle was located by Ken in the Big Willow Park area, only the third in the past ten years.

    · Another remarkable observation from a feeder watcher came from Denny and Barb, but unfortunately a day late for the official count. They observed and photographed a Rusty Blackbird in their Shorewood yard on Sunday, making it a ‘count-week’ bird. The last Rusty Blackbird on the count was also a ‘count-week’ bird seen in 1999. The last one with the sense to show up on count day was 30 years ago in 1990.

    · No species on this year’s count set record high counts (which is a bit unusual), but Trumpeter Swan came close with a total of 310, the second highest number to 323 in 2017. Four Cooper’s Hawk observations equaled the highest count set six different times in the past 20 years. This is a species that seems to be adapting well to increased urbanization and urban feeders.

    · Misses: every year there a few birds that don’t cooperate. No Northern Shovelers were spotted in the usually reliable Blue Lake area after a run of eight consecutive years. Buffleheads were missed for the first time in nine years. Note that part of the problem stems from our not accessing the Blue Lake water treatment facility during Covid times. Pine Siskins were conspicuously missing, although this is a species that we only find on about 75% of counts. No Song Sparrows were noted, a species that is seen on about 50% of counts.

    And whether your name appears above or not, please realize that your efforts are important and appreciated. The CBCs are not primarily about finding rare birds; they’re about censusing birds in our environment over the years. A count like the Excelsior CBC with its history going back 70 years provides important information about the changes occurring over time in our increasingly urbanized area. Thank you for participating and I hope you will join us again next year!"

  • 12/07/2021 5:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Izaak Walton League resolutions process is about more than setting the League’s policy—it is a function that unites us in our mission. League policies also influence national and international environmental policy—policies vetted and approved by the League’s diverse membership provide a barometer for policies that are likely to pass muster with the American people.

    Each year, League members draft resolutions outlining the steps they would like the organization to take to address natural resource problems. Resolutions that are formally adopted at the national convention become official policy and, together with the body of policies developed in the past, provide guidance to League staff, officers, and members as they seek solutions at the local, state, and national levels. The process also serves to educate members about critical natural resource issues.

    In 2021, Chapter Member and former Chapter & Division President, John Crampton, submitted 5 resolutions that address climate change.  The Bush Lake Chapter Board of Directors approved the following 5 resolutions in December, 2021.  They will now go to the Minnesota Division and, if passed by the Division, the National Izaak Walton League. 

    Funding for Rural Electric Co-ops to Make a Rapid Transition to Renewable Energy

    Background: Throughout the US rural cooperatives built during the Depression by New Deal programs are particularly reliant on coal powered power plants, in large part because they owe billions of dollars on plants that are increasingly uneconomic (the cost of wind and solar is now lower than the cost of coal generation). One can see this by driving through rural areas with large wind farms and solar gardens, only to realize that the power they generate goes to homes and factories in urban areas and not to local communities.

    The US Department of Agriculture administers many loans for these rural co-ops, through its Rural Utilities Service (RUS). In the past these loans supported the construction of power plants - mostly fueled by coal. To operate at the lowest possible costs, the cooperatives signed many long term contracts that locked in the supplies of coal for decades at costs that are now higher than the current costs of wind, solar and battery storage.

    Electric cooperatives and generation and transmission associations across the country owe billions of dollars in debt on coal plants, many of which in recent years have become more expensive to run than the cost of building new renewable energy projects. Instead of investing in new clean energy projects, many rural electric co-ops are stuck spending money to repay the debt owed on older coal plants - even when closing those plants would actually reduce energy costs for co-op members.

    Now therefore, the Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League of America, approves on this 2nd of December 2021, a request of Congress to approve the funding and authorizations necessary for the Dept. of Agriculture Rural Utility Services, including:

    1.) a doubling of the annual finance authority for the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to provide low-cost financing for zero-carbon generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, including distributed renewable energy assets as well as broadband infrastructure for smart grid solutions, and other technologies.

    2. Offering debt relief to allow rural electric cooperatives to write down or restructure loans for stranded coal plants and other fossil fuel assets in order to redirect billions of dollars from cooperative members’ bills toward modern clean energy assets, both in front of and behind customer meters.

    3. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will support electric cooperatives with technical assistance to make full use of the financing available through the RUS. This includes expanded funding for energy-efficiency upgrades and on-site solar energy and local battery storage investments that lower members’ utility bills and expand economic opportunity, including access to affordable housing in rural areas.

    Ban the Sale of Internal Combustion Engines in Minnesota by 2035

    Background: Transportation is the largest source of Greenhouse Gas emissions in the US, accounting for approximately 1/3 of all emissions.  In addition, the refining of gasoline is the largest source of industrial emissions.  Taken together, transportation and gasoline refining generate approx. 1/2 of all US emissions. The most effective way to cut those emissions is to electrify the transportation sector through the sales of BEV (battery electric vehicles) and PHEVs (plug in hybrid vehicles) which all major automakers worldwide (except possibly Toyota) are committed to doing in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The logical step is to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as quickly as possible in order to reduce and stop this major source of CO2e emissions, NOx emissions (smog) and particulate matter.  

    The UN IPC estimates that we need to reduce all our GHG emissions by half before the early 2030s if we want to have a chance to hold global warming increases to 1.5 degrees C. 

    In addition, stopping the burning of gasoline in ICE cars will help prevent diseases and premature deaths from asthma, lung and heart diseases that cost thousands of lives ever year, especially in disadvantaged communities.    

    In combination with the greening of the electrical grid, this move to EVs will help stop the flow of billions of dollars to North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Alberta Tar Sands, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and it will preclude the need for pipelines such as Line 3.   It will help build the local economies of communities throughout Minnesota that will be generating the renewable energy used by our electrified transportation sector. 

    Now therefore, the Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League of America, approves on this 2nd of December, 2021 as a first step in moving away from automobiles towards more sustainable modes of transportation that starting on January 1, 2035, the sale of new vehicles that are powered by an internal combustion engine, which includes gasoline, diesel and hybrid electric (non-plug-in) vehicles, be banned in Minnesota.

    Links and graphics:






    Electric Vehicles and Clean Car Standards, Jukka Kukkonen, Plug-In-Connect, Shift2Electric and MN EV Owners Association   https://vimeo.com/403847275

    100% Clean Energy for Electricity in Minnesota by 2040    

    Background: Electrical generation in the US is the second largest source of Greenhouse gases (GHG) that are causing a rapidly acceleration of climate change.  They presently represent 22% of the GHG in the US. 

    In Minnesota, approx. 25% of MN electricity is generated from renewables, 23% nuclear, 12% natural gas and 39% from coal, for a total of 51% from fossil fuel sources.

    Minnesota needs to stop generating power from coal and natural gas as quickly as possible in order to reduce our Greenhouse gas emissions.   The UN IPC estimates that we need to reduce all our GHG emissions by half before the early 2030s if we want to have a chance to hold global warming increases to 1.5 degrees C. 

    A 100% clean energy mandate in Minnesota is necessary to quickly stop burning fossil fuels, stop the building of fossil fuel powered electrical plants, and to promote the building of more solar, wind and battery storage capabilities- generating sources that are now the cheapest forms of energy on the market.

    Stopping the burning of fossil fuels will prevent diseases and premature deaths from asthma, lung and heart diseases.    

    In addition, solar, wind and battery storage capabilities are abundant in Minnesota, and transitioning to renewables will stop the flow of billions of dollars annually that are spent in other states and countries. In turn, this will help build the local economies of communities throughout Minnesota.

    Now therefore, the (Bush Lake Chapter) Izaak Walton League of America, approves on this 2nd of December 2021, a request that the MN State Senate pass and the Governor sign the 100% clean energy by 2040 bill passed by the Minnesota House in 2021 requiring all utilities operating in our state to be 100% carbon-free in their electric generation and sales to Minnesota customers by January 1, 2040.








    100% Campaign and Minnesota House Climate Action Caucus  Chris Conry, Campaign Director, 100% Campaign & Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL) District: 44B, MN House of Representatives, Chair of Climate Action Caucus  Length = 29:00


    Rural Minnesota Electric Vehicle Charging Study     

    Background:  Electric vehicle corridors depend on DC fast chargers that enable EV owners to charge in 10-20 minutes.  Commercial charging networks are putting DC fast chargers on major routes (I-35, I-94, I-90, 169) aimed at EV owners who are passing through and travelling long distances.  However, this leaves major parts of the state dependent on slower home charging (level 1, level 2).  This limits the adoption of EVs by people travelling between regional centers that are not on the major corridors. 

    At the same time, there are many locations in rural Minnesota that could support DC fast charging- farmers with heavy duty grain driers, state parks that are not using their electrical infrastructure during long periods of the year, technical colleges that are not being fully utilized during periods of time.  All these could support high speed DC charging for long periods of time, and their availability could be assessed through the use of broadband communications on screens in the EVs.  These chargers could represent an important revenue stream for these property owners and institutions. 

    This resolution is to commission a study by Minnesota Dept. of Commerce to study these possible EV charging networks that could be vital to Minnesota in achieving its climate goals and to the long-term economic development of rural Minnesota. 

    Now therefore, the Bush Lake Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America, approves on this 2nd of December 2021, requests that the Minnesota Legislature and Governor commission the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce to appropriate resources to study the potential for DC fast  chargers in rural corridors, based on farms, state parks, technical colleges   and other properties that have access to high-capacity electrical sources. 






    Electric School Buses by 2030    

    Background: Internal combustion engine powered school buses are a danger to our students and communities because of their emissions that are pumping Greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.  They also emit NOx (smog), particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.  We are setting a terrible example for our children who will have to live in a world that is being devastated by our addiction to fossil fuels.  It is time to stop.

    Converting our school bus fleets to electric vehicles offers many benefits:

    Climate mitigation through a dramatic reduction/elimination of Greenhouse gases.

    Improved health outcomes and lower healthcare costs treating asthma, lung and heart diseases caused by burning fossil fuels, especially among children in disadvantaged neighborhoods that line many of the major highway corridors.

    -   Electric school buses are cheaper to charge than gasoline costs, and they can be charged with 100% clean energy utility programs such as WindSource (Xcel) or Wellspring (Great River Energy).  They can be charged at night when the demand of electricity and costs are low. 

    Electric school buses are cheaper to maintain because they have very few moving parts…. No need for tune-ups, oil changes, engine overhauls, etc.  When batteries are no longer suitable for EV use, they can be used for battery storage for many years.  Recycling of batteries is also available.  (The same cannot be said for Greenhouse gases that will be in the atmosphere for thousands of years)

    Electric school buses are available during summer periods of hot weather and high humidity so they can feed power into the grid at times of peak load (V2G).  This will enable the school bus companies to charge the utility money to offset and/or eliminates costs of charging throughout the year.  In effect, they can be a major source or battery storage to offset the intermittency of some renewable sources.  This will be important because of the strains that climate change is putting on our electrical grid in terms of high temperatures/high humidity, massive wildfires and polar vortex events that require increased use of micro-grids and distributed electrical generation.  

          Now therefore, the Bush Lake Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America,    approves on this 2nd of December 2021, a request that the Minnesota          Legislature and Governor require that all school buses for public schools in   Minnesota be electric battery powered vehicles by 2030.







  • 10/05/2021 2:47 PM | 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 2021

    1) Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award- for member with outstanding contributions to the chapter in 2021. 

    Nancy Carlson has been a member of our Chapter and on our Board of Directors for several years. She is a go-getter and can always be counted on to lend a hand and contribute to improving the Chapter. As our Youth Activity Director, Nancy has put together several fun educational programs for kids. During this pandemic time, with help from Paul Raymaker, she starred in the “Nature Drawing With Nancy” video series, where she demonstrated how to draw and conserve some of our most treasured wildlife species. She recently put together our Little Free Nature Library, which can be found in the lodge. She also helps with member canoe rack storage, a job nobody wants but Nancy does it with spirit. Nancy is also an accomplished and award-winning children’s book author and illustrator who has published more than 60 books. Nancy believes that life should be fun for everyone, but especially for children. This optimistic message permeates her books and her work here at the Chapter, and we are very lucky to have her. The Bush Lake Chapter thanks Nancy for her excellent work!

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

    Gregg Thompson became caretaker here in the early 2000s. Gregg, along with John Crampton and Jill Crafton, found a conservation organization that was not so much a conservation organization as it was a private beach club. They worked together to turn the Chapter around and get us back to our conservation mission. As John Crampton says “Our chapter was mowing down to the water’s edge and many of us didn’t know the difference between garlic mustard and lady slippers.” Gregg quit mowing many areas to protect the water quality of Bush Lake and leave some more room for nature and wildlife. He started our restoration work by removing buckthorn and planting native plants. He worked to stabilize the shoreline that was eroding due to all the mowing. He started implementing water smart landscaping practices and taught others on how to do the same in their yards. Over the years, he’s educated hundreds of people on how to save water, money, time and actually help the environment with their home landscaping practices. He also does this great work at his day job with the City of Eagan, where he works to protect and restore the water resources there. Gregg also spearheaded our communication efforts with a new website and social media presence. Because of his work and the work of others, our Chapter has, by far, the best online presence of any IKE chapter in Minnesota. This has helped us attract members who really care about the environment. Gregg was also involved on the state level with the Minnesota Division, where he served as secretary and brought new ideas and new blood to the organization. He also helped Jill and others in getting the annual Watershed Summits at Normandale College off the ground in 2007. Gregg’s work continues today serving on our Board and as Membership Director, Website Administrator, and helps manage the canoe racks. We thank Gregg for all his efforts in bringing our organization into the 21st century, and for his commitment to conservation these many years. We would also like to thank his wife Rachael and children, Addie and Luca, for all of the support they give Gregg.

    3) Public Good Award- Award given to non-profit, city or public staff or elected officials for their outstanding contributions to water quality, conservation, and the environment. 

    The City of Bloomington Water Resources Department works to protect and improve Bloomington’s surface waters- the Minnesota River, Nine Mile Creek, and our many lakes, ponds, and wetlands. They work collaboratively with Watershed Districts, residents, and others to ensure water and the many ecosystems it supports stay healthy. In recent years, the Water Resources Department has collaborated with the Bush Lake Chapter on a number of projects, including the installation of wood duck houses on Normandale Lake. The Department also replaced the outlet structure that connects East Bay Pond to Bush Lake with the installation of a beaver-proof structure. This project protects Bush Lake’s water quality and allows beavers to inhabit the area. The Department also implemented water quality best management practices in West Bush Lake Park to further protect the lake. They also provide funding to maintain native vegetation around Bush Lake, and we are excited they are now planning to manage the invasive cattail around the lake- a win for wildlife, water quality, and recreation. All of this, in addition to the many water quality projects and initiatives the Department is working on throughout Bloomington, makes the Department deserving of this Award. The Bush Lake Chapter would like to thank the Water Resources Department staff- Bryan Gruidl, Steve Gurney, Jack Distel, Dave Gunderson, and Derek Cable- for all their great work!

    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.

    Carrol Henderson served as the Minnesota Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor from 1977 to 2018 when he retired. The work he has done for wildlife in our state and beyond is too extensive to list here today, but here are some highlights. He launched the “Loon Checkoff”- the nongame wildlife checkoff on Minnesota tax forms. Since 1981, state taxpayers have contributed more than $30 million to support projects to benefit native nongame species, such as songbirds and butterflies, frogs and toads, minnows and mussels, snakes and turtles, loons and ospreys. He helped many other states start non-game wildlife programs, and also helped them with endangered and threatened species. Here in Minnesota, when you hear the loud honk of a trumpeter swan, see a peregrine falcon or bald eagle fly overhead, or see river otters frolicking in the Minnesota River, you can thank Carrol for the work he did to reestablish these once endangered species. He also worked to reestablish common loons, bluebirds, blue herons, egrets, sandhill cranes, purple martins, frogs, turtles, bats, ospreys, snakes, and many other species. He also facilitated the acquisition of thousands of acres of land for wildlife and outdoor recreation. Carrol has authored 13 books and donated the proceeds to the non-game program. His work and his books Woodworking for Wildlife and Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality have inspired all of the work we have done here at the Bush Lake Chapter.

    Carrol’s work continues today advocating as a private citizen for wildlife, including working to Get the Lead Out of hunting and fishing and leading bird trips around the world.

    Carrol will be our featured speaker at our Get the Lead Out virtual program on October 6th, 2021, we hope that you can join us. The Bush Lake Chapter would like to thank Carrol for his commitment to conservation and for all his is outstanding work!

    5) Youth Conservation Award- Awarded to youth for their outstanding contributions to the Chapter, conservation, or the environment.

    The Bloomington Jefferson High School Earth Corps, founded in 2019, is a student-led environmental club. The primary goal of Earth Corps is to take meaningful actions to raise climate awareness, reduce solid waste, and encourage members of the school and city to live more sustainably. This year, during the pandemic, the Earth Corps went through many trials and tribulations and spent hundreds of hours to successfully install the Unity Garden on the grounds of Jefferson High School. This beautiful native plant garden was installed in a sea of turfgrass, and now provides habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, improves water quality, and serves as an outdoor classroom and a place for peace and reflection, to be enjoyed by the entire community. In just a couple of years, the Earth Corps has also worked to improve composting and recycling at the school, and to reduce waste. They have been active in advocating for real solutions to climate change by meeting with legislators and attending climate action events. Perhaps most importantly, they have worked to engage the student body and the community on environmental issues and getting students outdoors in nature. Special recognition goes to Maya Hidalgo, Yan Yan Zeng, Katrina Moberg for their work on the Unity Garden, as well as this year’s leaders, Kelsey Bechtold, Amal Mohamed, Micah Draxler, and Megan Zeng. Additionally, we must thank their advisor, our very own Elizabeth Erdmann. The Bush Lake Chapter would like to thank the Earth Corps for their dedication and commitment to improving our shared Earth. Keep fighting the good fight!

    Chapter Awards 2020

    1) Chapter Volunteer of the Year Award- for member with outstanding contributions to the chapter in 2020.

    Duayne Wincell, with help from his wife Cindy, spent numerous hours repairing the Chapter’s informational kiosks by constructing new roofs for them. He donated all his time, materials, labor, and travel costs. This was a significant donation and contribution by Duayne and Cindy. The kiosks look better than ever, and Duayne plans to continue improving them. Duayne and Cindy are long time members of the Chapter, and frequently attend our events and support the Chapter. In the past, Duayne made some pollinator houses for the Chapter and has helped with other Chapter improvement and activities, such as the canoe race. He is also the undefeated (in modern times) Annual Canoe Race champion. Due to Covid, we are not having the canoe race this year- so we are happy to give Duayne this award instead! Thank you Duayne for all of your great work, and Cindy, for your support.

    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.

    John Crampton has been involved with the Bush Lake Chapter for many years. He, Jill, and Gregg were part of the “new guard” that came to the Chapter some 20 years ago to find a board of directors that didn’t recite the pledge/our commitment to conservation “because they didn’t believe in it.” Through John’s determination and leadership, the Bush Lake Chapter became a conservation organization again.

    John has advanced our conservation mission in many ways. In recent years, his focus has been on climate change, and he came up with the Clean Energy Grant for the Minnesota Division Izaak Walton League that is used by Chapters to implement practices that help combat climate change. He has been an integral part of our Annual Watershed Summit and helps with planning and videography. In 2019 he and Jill Crafton put together the Watershed & Climate Summit, which brought together people from around the state and beyond to discuss protecting our water resources while also combatting climate change. John is also active with environmental advocacy at his church, Oak Grove Presbyterian, creating environmental programs and implementing green infrastructure such as solar panels and raingardens. Thanks to John, the Church has hosted several Izaak Walton League events and a semi-annual Electric Vehicle Expos.

    John is always quick to volunteer and help the Chapter and our cause. He comes to most of our volunteer events, and last year he put on our first KidsWind event- which brough kids out to the Chapter to build mini-wind turbines and taught them all about renewable energy. The current board considers John as an “honorary board member” as he attends many of our long meetings and helps to remind of us our mission and what is at stake. John is also good at spreading our environmental message to the public that he does with both passion and a sense of humor. He has a “fire in the belly” that is contagious with all that interact with him. John has served as both Chapter president as well as Division president. We thank John for his commitment to the Izaak Walton League and our environment. We would also like to thank John’s wife, Mary, for all the support she provides John to allow him to do these things- and for keeping him from going off the rails!

    Paul Raymaker Thanks to Nancy Carlson, Paul and his family joined the Chapter a few years ago. Also, thanks to Nancy, Paul soon joined our board of directors and has been an integral part of our Chapter ever since! Paul is our official chapter photographer- his incredible images have allowed us to spread our conservation message more effectively on social media and beyond. He runs our Instagram page that is full of awesome content about nature and why it is important to protect. Along with Nancy, Paul plans and manages most of our youth programming, and getting kids outdoors in nature is more important than ever. Paul also put together an excellent virtual Chapter orientation video that we will be unveiling soon. He attends most Chapter events and is not afraid of getting his hands dirty. A busy husband and father of two boys- Paul is always quick to lend a hand and has been a tremendous help to Paul Erdmann the caretaker, and the Chapter in recent years. We thank Paul for his dedication and all his great work! We of course also thank his wife Jackie, and sons Wesley and Waylon for all the support they give Paul!

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

    Patty Acomb represents Minnetonka, Plymouth, and Woodland in the Minnesota House of Representative. She is the leader of the Minnesota House Climate Action Caucus which has 59 members. As chair she has led the drive to pass 100% Clean Energy in Minnesota by 2050 mandate along with other clean energy transportation, renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and public health initiatives in the 2020 and now the 2021 Minnesota House of Representatives. Patty has served on the Park Board and City Council of Minnetonka as a staunch advocate for sustainable land and water conservation practices. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in natural resources. Patty presented at our Watershed and Climate Summit back in March. We thank Patty for her contributions to conservation and the great state of Minnesota!

    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.

    Lisa McEntire is a one-woman army, defending Tierney’s Woods, Hyland Park, and other Bloomington parks and open spaces from alien invaders. Each year, Lisa spends countless hours pulling and managing garlic mustard, narrow leaf bittercress, and other invasive plants to ensure they do not take over our most important wildlife habitat areas. She also reports new invasions of invasive plants, so the proper authorities are aware. She also educates the public on invasive species issues and collaborates with others to protect our natural areas. She monitors bluebird houses and helps wildlife and our natural world in numerous other ways. We thank Lisa for all her great work!

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

    Yanyan (Xiaoxin Zeng) (pronounced “Yan Yan Zeng”) is a co-founder and president of the newly re-envisioned Jefferson High School Earth Corps. This was once called HOPE (Help Our Planet Earth) Club, but the group said it is too late for hope--that people need to actually get to work. Yanyan is not afraid to do the work. She has continued to serve on the City of Bloomington Sustainability Commission, focusing on climate, getting youth involved, and asking the hard questions. Yanyan's interest in the environment is thoughtful and passionate. She spends her time fighting for climate justice and social justice, behind the screen of her computer or with boots on the ground, even in a pandemic. She practices what she preaches in her diet and daily routines. She was recently recognized as an Earth Action Hero and featured in a City video. She continues this work as she plans for college and her future. She wants her future to be healthy and happy, and she is not going to wait for someone else to make the world a better place. She is going to change the world for herself.

    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

  • 07/01/2021 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto and Paul Erdmann

    Watching fireworks on the 4th of July seems as American as apple pie. It’s a tradition shared by countless millions across the United States. Debating about where to go each year to view a nearby fireworks display to celebrate the Holiday has been my family tradition for years. Perhaps it was our 125 lb., 10-year-old, beloved Newfoundland dog who is reduced to an anxious shivering wreck when the explosions begin, or maybe it was reading about people suffering from PTSD who are similarly triggered by the loud noises and smells of detonated explosives, but this year I came to think about our fireworks tradition more critically.

    Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought to my own environmental ethics and how we share our earth with other living creatures. Can you just imagine how a mother bird in a nest of baby birds or other creatures that live near a fireworks display area are affected? There is some science that you can read online about how fireworks are extremely disruptive to birds and wildlife. However, there is really not enough of science to argue the issue. And, please understand that my goal is not to advocate a ban on what some will argue is our patriotic right to celebrate the Holiday as we always have. My hope is only to raise awareness and share a personal story:

    It is a few minutes past 10 PM on July 4th and my daughter and I decide to hike up the ski hill at Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington. From the top of where the chairlift drops skiers and snowboarders in winter, there is a panoramic view of the Southdale Area clear to the Mississippi River. We search in the darkness for the narrow-trodden path through the long grass leading to the top. The night is muggy and still, perfect for the voracious mosquitos and gnats to swarm us despite the DEET that I slathered on before I left home. With my eyes trained on the horizon, I am thrilled to see the sky lit up with brilliant light explosions from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, Edina’s Southdale Show, Richfield and other communities south along the Mississippi River. I can feel the thump, bang and whistle from miles away.

    Looking down to swat a biting bug on my leg, I notice that we are surrounded by thousands of fireflies creating their own private light show. It is a magical and spectacular sight!

    Also known as lightning bugs or glowworms, fireflies’ tails contain chemicals and enzymes that, when mixed with oxygen, allow them to glow (bioluminescence). Minnesota fireflies are most often yellow, but in other parts of the country and world you may see green, orange, or blue fireflies. Fireflies start displaying their light show in late May and peak in late June and early July.

    Fireflies communicate with their light display. Males fly and flash to find females, who are usually sitting on vegetation signaling males that they like with their own display. They also emit light to defend territories and to say to predators “don’t eat me, I taste bad.”

    Populations of fireflies are decreasing due to habitat loss and increased light pollution. Here are a few tips to help fireflies and other insects:

    • Keep your yard dark by turning off exterior and garden lights and closing the blinds at night, making it easier for them to find one another to mate.
    • Plant native trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers to provide habitat fireflies love.
    • Leave some space for nature. Let some logs, leaves, and tree debris accumulate. Firefly larvae grow up in rotten logs and leaf litter (they glow too!)
    • Avoid using pesticides and lawn chemicals. Good for wildlife and water quality.

    As we approach the 4th of July, keep your eyes out at night for nature’s fireworks. You can find them on the edge of woods and marshy areas. Hyland Park is a great spot. Quietly blinking in the night with a rhythm only lightning bugs can understand, they steal the show. Their natural light show reminds me that subtle and quiet displays of beauty can far surpass what we are taught to enjoy. We stand in awe of the power of nature and its resilience to continue its fight for survival despite awful odds.

    Learn more at http://www.xerces.org/endangered-species/fireflies

    and https://www.firefly.org/

    Photos: Fireflies over East Bay Pond by Paul Raymaker

    Adult Firefly on Compass Plant by Paul Erdmann

  • 05/21/2021 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Paul Erdmann, Conservation Director

    Road mortality is a serious threat to many different species of wildlife. As temperatures warm, turtles, frogs, snakes, and other amphibians and reptiles begin stirring, sunning themselves, and moving across roads. Turtles are especially vulnerable to injury or death by automobile. You can help turtles and other wildlife, but remember- SAFETY FIRST!

    In late May and June, female turtles look for open sunny areas to lay their eggs, sometimes up to a mile away from their aquatic home. Males and non-breeding turtles seek out temporary or new habitats. Turtles migrate back to waterbodies in the late summer and early fall. All of this movement puts turtles in danger from our many roads, cars, and distracted drivers. Scientists estimate that painted turtles can live as long as 40 years in the wild, while Blanding’s and snapping turtles can live more than 70! Isn’t it a shame to see one killed by our cars? In 2015, one volunteer logged over 100 dead turtles on the roads around Bush Lake (Bloomington) alone. But she also helped many turtles safely cross the road. The volunteer collected data using a new mapping tool, called HerpMapper, sanctioned by the MN DNR. Collected data on both live and dead turtles can be provided to natural resource managers and city and highway departments, as innovative "turtle tunnels" are now being built in areas of high mortality. Check out all of the cool wildlife the Washington County turtle tunnel has saved on the MDNR Nongame Wildlife Program Facebook page (and lots of other cool wildlife photos): https://www.facebook.com/pg/MinnesotaNongameWildlifeProgram/photos/?tab=albums

    How Can You Help Turtles?

    • Never put yourself or others in danger! If you are driving, safely park and turn on hazard lights to alert others to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic.
    • Allow turtles to cross on their own, unassisted, if there is no traffic.
    • If you need to speed it up, grasp all turtles, EXCEPT snapping turtles, gently along the edge of the shell near the mid-point of the body. Turtles may be excited and use the bathroom, don't drop it!
    • Snapping turtles should NEVER be picked up by the tail (it damages their spinal cord). Use a branch, broomstick, or snow shovel to prod it along from behind. If it bites the object, use it to drag the animal to the other side of the road.
    • Maintain direction of travel. Move the turtle to low ground, in a direct line, in the same direction it was traveling. Do NOT remove it from its area of habitat.
    • Protect turtle nests you find in your yard with a cage or plate. Protecting nests for a few weeks (until the scent of the nest subsides) from predators gives them a better chance at being successful. Moving turtle nests is rarely successful.
    • Advocate for amphibians and reptiles! Support the MN DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and contribute with the Loon Checkoff on your taxes. Contact local and elected officials and let them know you care about protecting them.
    • Do a turtle project at your Ike chapter or with a local group. Contact Paul Erdmann at pwerdmann@yahoo.com for ideas

    More information:

    "Turtles On The Move" video by the City of Bloomington





  • 04/16/2021 6:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Paul Erdmann, Conservation Director

    Most people are familiar with buckthorn, a non-native invasive plant that has taken over many acres of land in Bloomington and beyond. Another invasive plant to be wary of is garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata. This invader arrived with European settlers in the 1800s, likely for food and medicinal purposes. It is an early season biennial herb that thrives in many conditions, including woodlands, floodplains, and people’s yards. It spreads by seeds which are disbursed by ripe seed pods that can propel seeds several feet away, and by water, animals, and people. Because of its aggressive nature and prolific seeding, and lack of parasites and diseases, it alters ecosystems and chokes out beneficial native plants that pollinators and other wildlife depend on. Garlic mustard exudes chemicals into the soil that suppress native plants. Deer and other animals do not eat this plant. It is edible for people, and you can find pesto and other recipes online. When the leaves are crushed it emits a strong garlic smell. Garlic mustard often moves in after buckthorn removal or other disturbances, so monitoring for this plant and stopping its spread is critical.

    The good news is that garlic mustard is more easily managed than buckthorn, especially if caught early, which is important as one plant can become hundreds in just a few years. In the Spring, before seed set, adult plants pull easily, especially when soil is moist. Be sure to pull the entire tap root, or it can re-sprout. Plants that are pulled and left on the ground may still flower and set seed. Flowering plants or plants with seed pods should be removed from the site and properly disposed of to prevent seeding. Since it is a biennial (plants flower under the right conditions, set seed, and die- usually a 2-year life cycle) preventing it from seeding is critical. Seeds may remain viable in the soil for 5 to 10 years. In addition to hand pulling, cutting, herbicide, spot burning, and prescribed fires are used to manage garlic mustard. Many animals, pollinators, and native plants such as wild geranium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, columbine, and wild ginger will be grateful for your efforts! Garlic mustard is a Restricted Noxious Weed in Minnesota, which means it is illegal to intentionally grow it or sell it, and landowners are strongly encouraged to manage it on their properties in order prevent its spread.

    For more info, go to: 

    Controlling Garlic Mustard Video by the City of Bloomington



    Photos by Minnesota Department of Agriculture (top- flowers and seed pods,  and bottom- infestation) and Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org (middle- first year seedlings)

  • 12/23/2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise M. Segreto

    We have much to learn from Native Americans regarding our relationship with nature. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet with several Ojibwe and Dakota elders. All told stories about humans’ place in the natural world. They spoke quietly with a sense of reverence, respect and humility. Most Native peoples have an oral tradition, and it is through these stories that wisdom is passed from generation to generation. Additionally, art, dance, ceremony and rituals are other traditional ways of passing down knowledge and cultural norms. These traditional ways of teaching can convey a far deeper sense of spirituality than the mere written word. Listen carefully, and you will begin to understand the natural world and our place in it from a Native American Perspective.

    Creation stories of many Native peoples begin with Nanabozho, the first Man-Spirit Being. It is taught that Nanabozho was the last of all living beings to be created in the world. He was introduced into a fully formed world of animals, plants, water, fire, wind, water and sky. Before Nanabozho’s arrival, the ancient world was in perfect balance and harmony. The Creator instructed Nanabozho to “walk through the world in such a way such that each step was a greeting to Mother Earth”. Nanabozho’s steps were to be gentle so as not to hurt the earth upon which he trod. Nanabozho spoke to the animals that he encountered. He learned how to survive in the world from his animal brothers and sisters. For example, wolves and foxes gave him tips on how to hunt, spiders taught him how to weave fishing nets, bears explained how to get through winter. The Creator expected that Nanabozho learn the names of all living beings. The Creator further guided Nanabozho to observe the animals and plants in order to learn both how-to live-in harmony and survive. It was in this way, that Nanabozho discovered the abundance of “gifts” that the natural world could provide to meet his needs.

    It is a Native American perspective that humans play just a small role in the greater web of life. This belief fostered the belief that we, therefore, should live in kinship with other living creatures and the physical world. This perspective was foreign to early European settlers. In stark contrast, the fur traders, loggers, and white settlers brought with them a mindset of exploitation to this vast and seemingly endless bountiful land.

    After these two very different cultures collided, our Native American perspective was almost totally lost. The removal and cultural genocide of Native Americans in Minnesota occurred over a relatively short period of time. Three generations of Native American children were taken from their families and sent to boarding schools where they were prohibited from speaking their Native languages or participating in traditional Native American cultural rituals, ceremonies, dances and arts. By the early 1900s, Native Americans had lost their lands through a series of dishonorable Federal treaties and discriminatory Native American federal acts & policies. The Ojibwe and Dakota lost their tribal lands and were pushed into Reservations. Compounding this tragic history, life on the reservation was hard and isolated. Poverty, combined with limited economic opportunities and broken families, led to deep social problems. Native American perspectives were largely invisible to most Minnesotans for many years.

    Native Americans have a deep sense of connection to the place where they live. Even today, Native Americans will identify what Tribal Band and Reservation they are from when they introduce themselves. But this connectedness goes beyond self-identification. Traditional Native Americans are said to be “indigenous to place”. This means in large part that they possess a heightened understanding and awareness of the natural world that surrounds them. For example, Native wisdom on how to track animals is legendary. And we are just now beginning to catch up with what Native Americans have known about the medicinal value of plants. Tinctures and poultices for treating sickness have been passed on from generation to generation of Native American medicine men. Scientists now know that there is in fact a chemical communication of sorts that occurs between trees. No surprise to Native Americans, they have long known that trees talk to one another. Even how Native Americans name plants and animals reveals a sense of familiarity and connection: chipmunk berries, partridge berry, trout leaves. Compare these descriptive Native American names to the two-part clinical scientific Latin genus and species taxonomic names that Westerners use for the same plants and animals. Naming practice belies the stark contrast between Native American perspective on nature compared to Westerners.

    Native Americans lived sustainably off the land for generations before the European settlers arrived. Prior to European settlement, Native Americans lived an inextricably intertwined existence with wildlife, plants, and their natural world. Native Americans’ survival depended upon animals, plants, trees and natural resources being available year after year to sustain them. There was a rhythmic seasonality to their hunter-gatherer subsistence existence. Spring meant a move to “sugar camp” to tap maple trees for syrup and sugar. Birch bark pails were fashioned and used to pour sap into large shallow log troughs hollowed from basswood trees to freeze and cooked down to produce sugar and syrup. Fall was a time to harvest “Mahnomen”- sacred wild rice. Wild rice has always been sacred to Native Americans. Its sustainable harvest was central to their survival in Minnesota. This sustainable way of living was in stark contrast to the exploitive practices of the harvest and extraction of natural resources by the fur trappers, buffalo hunters, loggers, miners, white settlers and farmers.

    Prior to the arrival of settlers, food was not purchased by Native Americans from a store. Instead, it was harvested by hunting, fishing, and gathering- wild berries in summer, nuts and wild rice in the fall and maple syrup in the spring. These foods were regarded as “gifts” from Mother Earth. Making use of these “gifts” demanded a harvester’s obligation not only to receive, but also to reciprocate. An “honorable harvest” is based on accountability to both the physical and metaphysical worlds. This “take only what you need” mentality is in sharp contrast to our economic mindset “take everything you can get”.

    It was not until recently that Native American culture and perspective have been rediscovered and embraced by Western culture and science. Scientists now acknowledge the complex ecological connections between all life on earth, and the important role that diversity plays in creating a stable and healthy environment. And, finally, there seems to be a growing sense of collective conscience of Native Americans’ contributions and perspectives across the United States.

    We would all benefit to incorporate a Native American perspective into our relationship with nature. The next time you look up at the dark sky to star gaze, view the sky as a Native American and try to find Big Bear, Wolf or Loon. In the Spring, when out walking our Minnesota woods searching for the delicate blooms of ephemeral wildflowers, pause and admire the shapes and colors that inspired Native American weaving and beading. Walk gently upon Mother Earth. Honor and respect nature and all its inhabitants. I think that our lives would not only be richer, but the world would be a better place if we remember Native Americans and their perspectives on nature.

    Miigwech! (“Thank You”) for reading!

    *Note: Louise M. Segreto, the author of this article, is not Native American

    Minnesota River Valley photo by Paul Raymaker

    Hyland Prairie at Sunset by Paul Erdmann

  • 10/22/2020 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At the October 1, 2020 Board of Directors meeting, the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America passed the following resolution:

    Resolution of Support of Organized Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Recycling Collection Systems, solid waste source reduction, and increased recycling rates, to reduce environmental pollution

    Whereas, in an Organized Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Recycling Collection Systems, waste hauling services are coordinated by a public entity through a competitive bidding process. In 2012, nearly 30 percent of the communities in Minnesota have organized MSW and recycling collection systems compared to 72 percent nationally. Whereas, Organized Collection of MSW and Recycling Collection Systems has the following advantages over “Open” Trash Collection:

    • Recycling capture rates are typically higher in organized systems with standardized recycling materials collection, sorting instructions, and public education tools and message content;

    • Reduced Garbage vendors travelling the same public streets dramatically reduces total fuel consumption, pollution emissions, carbon emissions, noise, risk of accidents, and wear on and degradation of the public streets;

    Whereas, the National Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) organization has historically been supportive of reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and resource recovery; Whereas, the National Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) organization has historically been supportive of the reduction of fossil fuel use, due to pollution from spills and emissions;

    Whereas, the mission of the Izaak Walton League is: To conserve, restore, and promote the sustainable use and enjoyment of our natural resources, including soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife;

    Be it resolved, the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League will encourage its members to support means, such as Organized MSW and Recycling Collection Systems, solid waste source reduction, and increased recycling rates, to reduce environmental pollution, in a way that is consistent with the mission of the Izaak Walton League;

    Be it resolved, the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League will publicly support means, such as Organized MSW and Recycling Collection Systems, solid waste source reduction, and increased recycling rates, to reduce environmental pollution, in a way that is consistent with the mission of the Izaak Walton League

  • 07/25/2020 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Louise Segreto

    More tethered to home during this Covid-19 Pandemic, I have been out in the field doing daily nature observations.  I find comfort in the natural rhythms, sounds and sights of nature.  Perhaps you do too?  Here are some tips from years of trail walking and bushwacking to see more on your outdoor ramblings:

    SLOW DOWN.  Walk quietly and wear soft shoes that minimize noise. Think moccasins or very soft soled shoes. Stop periodically, sit quietly and listen.  You will be amazed about how many critters will come to check you out. And, you will notice things you would likely have missed had you rushed.

    LEAVE  FIDO  HOME.  This is a really hard one for me.  I have two dogs, a Newf and Aussie, that give me the betrayed “sad eye” when I head out.  But, dogs are distracting in the field. They scare and chase wild critters.  Marching through the woods with a “large predator,” AKA your dog, even if he/she is trained well, is at best problematic for nature sightings.

    THINK HABITAT. Consciously think about what habitat you are headed to and what you might see. I often leave home with an intent to look for a specific species or happening that I know may be present where I am walking that day. And, while frequently I will not find what I originally set out to see, I am always pleasantly surprised to stumble upon something wonderfully unexpected!

    VARY THE TIME OF DAY that you go out into the field. There is a lot going on in nature not only during dawn and dusk, but also at night.  Yes, I know mosquitos and gnats in Minnesota are annoying at night.  So, find an insect repellent that works for you. You will be rewarded with night calls, starry skies, and after-hours happenings that you have been missing.

    VISIT THE SAME AREA FREQUENTLY especially in the Spring and Fall.  What you see unfold over the course of several weeks or months can be amazing.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching woodland patches of spring ephemerals bloom over several weeks, disappearing  after the tree canopy fills in and casts them in shade.  Or, seeing prairie flowers taking their turns blooming over the course of several months at a nearby restored prairie.  Knowing a place intimately, helps you know where to look and gives you a sense of phenological/seasonal changes.

    USE TECHNOLOGY as it suits you. I have a love/hate relationship with technology.  It tends to take me out of the moment unless I know how to use it without futzing around.  However, I always have my iPhone handy for photos, recordings and reference.  Experiment with some phone apps that you can take into the field.  I use these three:  “PictureThis”  for plant, shrub and tree identifications (free trial); “Audubon Bird Guide”, been using for years, but there are several other bird apps you might check out and “iNaturalist” a citizen science phone app that helps with identification with whatever you find in the field, let’s you document their locations and create a list, and connects you to other naturalists.  (More about phone apps in a future article.)

    I am headed out into the field after I finish editing this article!  Here’s what I have in my back pack ready to go when I dash out the door:

    • *Water * Insect Repellent* Sun Block *Binocs *Small Journal and 2 Mechanical Pencils *Several Plastic Zip Lock Bags *Sunglasses *Small Magnifying Glass *Field Guide to  Mushrooms *Swiss Army Knife *Benadryl Spray *First Aid Kit *Phone/Camera
    • Lastly, sharing what you find in the field with others, helps all of us stay more connected with our natural world!  Knowing about the fungi, plants, birds and animals that live in your community is the first step towards advocating towards ensuring that they be here for our children and grandchildren.  Have you seen something cool?  Let me know and we may share on Facebook, Instagram, or our newsletter.

  • 06/21/2020 6:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Louise Segreto.  Art by Ricardo Levins Morales

    The tragically unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month has raised a global consciousness about equity and justice. In the wake of his death, even environmental/conservation organizations like our Bush Lake Chapter Izaak Walton League have stepped back to examine what “Environmental Equity” and “Environmental Justice” mean and should look like as we move forward.

    While these are not new terms, they are often confused and incorrectly used interchangeably. The fundamental conceptual principle is that we are all entitled, despite who we are, what color we happen to be, how much money we make, how old we are, or any other demographic we can be identified as belonging, to safe drinking water, healthy air quality, and a clean environment. These environmental entitlements are basic human rights. And, the Izaak Walton League (“IWL”) has been proudly involved in Environmental Equity issues and Environmental Justice long before these terms were even used. The IWL has been doing Environmental Justice work years before it came to be referred to as a social movement.

    What is the difference between “Environmental Equity” and “Environmental Justice”?

    “Environmental Equity” refers to how environmental risks are distributed across diverse population groups and how our policies create or respond to the equitable or unequal distribution of environmental risk. There are many different types of equity, but in recent months we have been focused on inequities that affect racial minorities and low-income populations. Similarly, environmental risks can be wide ranging from broader environmental disasters such as flooding, wildfires, mudslides caused by climate change to more localized environmental hazards such as contaminated water from industrial agriculture or factory effluent pollution, to changes in hunting and fishing regulations that disproportionately affect a disadvantaged northern Minnesota Native American Tribe. The simple fact of the matter is that people that lack economic power or political clout usually bear the brunt of carrying the risks of environmental downsides associated with industrial and capitalistic “progress”.

    The term “Environmental Justice” refers to the actions and activism necessary to highlight the inequalities in environmental risk distribution across populations and pave the way to leveling the playing field in achieving environmental equity. Environmental Justice activism can take many forms. For example, advocating for proper oversight and review of Federal, State and local agencies, ensuring proper permitting and licensing, and advocating for changes in rules, regulations and statutes are different strategies. Ideally, Environmental Equity is the outcome of Environmental Justice.

    But, striving for Environmental Equity & Environmental Justice are just lofty aspirational words, unless we really focus on these concepts and integrate them into every aspect of our lives and work. As members of the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, let us all pause and think what each of us might do to contribute to achieving Environmental Equity through our work in Environmental Justice today and in years to come.

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