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Izaak Walton League of America

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  • 08/06/2017 5:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Douglas Claycomb, Outdoor Ethics Chair

    In the final decades of the twentieth century, remarkable progress was realized in the reduction of lead in our environment. Prior to the 1970s, lead was ubiquitous; it was in our house paint, gasoline, pottery, and plumbing. We were not only poisoning our environment, but also ourselves--and we knew it. So we rolled up our sleeves, found non-toxic alternatives, and regulated lead.

    Because of these efforts, very little lead is being released into our environment through these routes any more. Lead pipes, for example, have been replaced by copper and plastic, and solder is lead-free. Instead of lead, zinc and titanium are used to produce pigments in today’s house paint and ethanol serves in place of tetraethyl lead to boost octane levels in our gasoline. In each case, viable alternative materials and techniques were developed in conjunction with lead regulations so that the environment was protected and livelihoods and economies were not up-ended in the process--a win-win.

    So, what next? Where is progress feasible? Where are there both a lead contamination problems and viable alternatives? Fishing and hunting. Nearly all fishing sinkers and the large majority firearms projectiles are still lead. This would not be a problem except for the fact that almost every time an angler loses his or her rig and darn near each time a hunter shoots, lead ends up strewn on the bottom of a waterway, littering the forest, or lodged in the flesh of wounded game. This “lost lead” is an inevitable part of fishing and hunting.

    This is a lot of lead. And it does not break down. It persists, accumulating in our environment year after year. Furthermore, lead is highly toxic. One does not need to be a scientist to conclude that scattering it across our woods and waters is a bad idea. And, although the hazards posed by this “lost lead” to humans and to the environment are multiple, birds are the most vulnerable to its toxic effects.

    Lost lead has a nasty habit of showing up in birds’ digestive systems. Birds eat it. Ducks and other birds mistake it for grit--thinking they are getting sand and pebbles for their gizzards. They are just birds, and cannot tell the difference between a pebble and a fishing sinker. Eagles and other scavengers ingest lead too, but for another reason; they inadvertently consume lead-contaminated carrion. How does this carrion become contaminated? It is the residue of animals which have either consumed lead themselves or have been “peppered” by a hunter’s lead projectile and the lead stayed in them.

    We know that lead from hunting and fishing is a problem and fortunately the solution is right before us. Lead has been outlawed for waterfowl hunting nationwide since 1991 and it is prohibited in California’s condor country. Lead fishing tackle is prohibited in many National Parks and in Maine--to protect loons. And it works out just fine because there is a multitude of viable, non-toxic alternatives. Tin, steel, and tungsten fishing sinkers are offered at most tackle shops. Non-toxic pellets (of steel, tungsten, bismuth) for shotguns have been around since the 1970s and copper bullets are widely available for centerfire rifles. Even shotgun slugs are offered in copper and other non-lead options. These options are every bit as effective as lead (sometimes even more so) and they cost only a little bit more. Given these perfectly viable, affordable, effective and available non-toxic alternatives, we seem to have an easy fix. Right?

    Wrong! Since lead was prohibited for waterfowl in 1991, no significant wide-reaching progress has been realized in the U.S. So, what is the hold-up? Part of the problem is that hunters and anglers, by and large, resist lead regulations. Why is this? Surely hunters and anglers know that good hunting and fishing are found in healthy, uncontaminated woods and waters. And surely they know lead is poisonous. So why would hunters and anglers want to contaminate the very environment upon which their pursuits depend? Why would hunters eschew lead paint in their homes yet willingly season their own family’s table fare with it, especially when non-toxic options are right there on the store shelf?

    Hunters and anglers are not the problem. They are victims like the rest of us, of a system where public opinion is swayed by moneyed interest groups and their slick use of media to distort facts, to produce wedge issues which encourage tribalism, and then to exploit the very cleavages they create for their own benefit. In the case of lead, three factors have conspired to make the problem seem intractable. First, the NRA has successfully misled hunters by conflating lead regulations with gun-rights. Second, the biggest economic beneficiaries of fishing and hunting, manufacturers and retailers represented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and American Sportfishing Association, have exaggerated the cost of non-toxic alternatives--saying lead regulations would make fishing and hunting too expensive, pricing common people out. And third is the fact that most hunters and anglers already live in rural, government-regulation-averse, America.

    In the waning days of the Obama administration, Interior Secretary Dan Ashe idealistically (but naively) issued Order 219, phasing out lead projectiles for hunting on National Wildlife Refuge lands. Although scientists and environmentalists knew it was a common-sense step in the right direction, it never stood a chance. The current Interior Secretary revoked it immediately and was congratulated by the NRA for it and then heralded as a “true friend of the American Sportsman” by the NSSF.

    Lead is cheap and plentiful and the manufacturers of ammunition and fishing tackle hope to keep production rates growing and to protect their profit margins by continuing to use it. By aligning with the NRA and the various trade groups who oppose lead regulations, hunters and anglers are hurting the environment and undermining the long-term viability of the very same woods and waters upon which their pursuits rely. And they are possibly sickening themselves by eating their lead-laced game to boot. But here is the worst part: the NRA and the industry trade groups are duping hunters and anglers into advocating against regulations which would be in their own best interest--playing them for chumps.

    Although sweeping regulation like the 1991 waterfowl lead ban are not in the offing at the moment, a number of states are taking small steps. For example, in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the lead shot is extended beyond waterfowl to also include turkeys and small game. And it has worked. Hunters still bag game and lead contamination is held in check. Currently, there is another small, but positive, proposal. The Minnesota DNR has convened a Nontoxic Shot Advisory Committee and is considering requiring hunters to use non-toxic shot for small game hunting in all Wildlife Management Area except those in the northeastern “forest zone.” This would not apply to private land but at least it is something. For now, in this current political circumstance, we are fortunate to be discussing it at all.

    Hunters and anglers are uniquely positioned at the moment to be the agents of progress on lead in the environment. They could be the force that re-establishes the lead-reduction momentum of the 1970s and 80s and they would also reap the benefits--better fishing and hunting and healthier fare for their families’ supper tables.

    Further Reading:











  • 06/22/2017 1:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Doug Claycomb, Outdoor Ethics Chair

    Greetings, Ikes! I am honored to have been appointed by the Board to be our chapter’s first Outdoor Ethics Chair. Since this role is brand-spanking new, and there is no established position description, I get to figure it out as I go. The first thing I want to do is to write, on a somewhat regular basis, about local outdoor opportunities (usually related to fishing, hunting or foraging). I envision these “outdoor opportunity” pieces to be entirely apolitical, “light” reading. Later, I anticipate writing on relevant environmental issues. These “issue” pieces will address controversial environmental topics from an advocacy standpoint. But for now, I’ll keep it light. Here goes:

    If you have never gone fishing, living in Minnesota, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The easiest way to get started is to pursue Minnesota’s most frequently caught fish--the “sunny.” The term “sunny” is used to refer to several similar species including the pumpkinseed, bluegill, and sunfish. Although sometimes a bit on the small side, sunnies are plentiful in nearly every waterway in Minnesota (including Bush Lake), are almost always eager to bite and are really great to eat.

    To fish in Minnesota, a license is necessary--with a few exceptions I describe here. First off, children (15 and under) who reside in-state do not need a license. Also, in most Minnesota State Parks, fishing privileges are included in the admission fee--without a license. And then there is “take a kid fishing weekend” (June 9-11, 2017) during which an adult may fish without a license if accompanying a child who is also fishing. Everybody else needs a license.

    Now for the hardest part of any fishing trip: catching fish. First of all, no angler is ever assured a fish. For those who want certainty, there is a seafood section at the CUB foods. Nonetheless, it does not take an expert to land a dozen or so sunnies from shore. The most rudimentary “kiddie” rod, a few worms from the garden, a hook, and maybe a small bobber is all you’ll need. Experiment a little bit, watch others who are catching them, and soon enough you’ll be catching them too.

    Did I tell you that sunnies make excellent table fare? Well, they do. Although even the smallest sunnies are delicious, most anglers consider 6 or 7 inches to be the minimum size “keeper” and anything over 8 inches is a “nice one.” The really good news: in most waters, an angler can keep up to 20 sunnies per day, year-round.

    Although some fishing purists practice strict “catch-and-release,” there is no reason to feel guilty for taking home a bucketful of sunnies for the fry pan. The limit on sunnies is set by the DNR at 20 because they reproduce prolifically. In fact, because many lakes in Minnesota are over-populated with sunnies resulting in stunted (abnormally small) fish, taking them home to eat can sometimes actually help the fishery!

    Cleaning and cooking sunnies is a snap. All you need to do is scrape the scales away, cut off the head (optional), slice open the belly and pull the guts out. That’s it. Then rinse it and it’s ready for the kitchen. Sure, you can try all sorts of fancy recipes, but with a fish as tasty as a sunny, less is more. I like to sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper, coat them with flour, and fry them for just a few minutes in butter--until they’re brown. Easy, tasty, and nutritious!

    Be warned, eating sunnies the way I suggest requires a bit of patience and practice because the bones are left in. The best way to go at them is gently with a fork, lifting the meat off the bones, inspecting each morsel visually, then occasionally plucking a stray bone from your mouth. Although a bone is sometimes unpleasant, you cannot actually choke on a fish bone. They are too small.

    If you absolutely cannot bare the prospect of a fish bone in your mouth, then you probably should just practice catch-and-release. The other solution is to fillet them. Although filleting sunnies is technically possible, especially if the knife is in skilled hands, it is uncommon. This is because filleting works best on larger fish, not sunnies.

    So, if you are interested in giving it a try, find yourself with some spare time this summer, or you want to try something “outdoorsy” with a child, consider sunny-fishing. Be sure to consult the DNR website about specific regulations (don’t take my word for it), always be safe near water, and leave nothing behind but footprints.

  • 03/24/2017 12:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Paul Erdmann, Bush Lake Chapter Conservation Director

    Most of us know that pollinators need our help. Starting a honeybee hive is not the answer!

    What’s the issue?

    Honeybees are not native to North America, they were introduced from Europe. They are now one of the most abundant and widespread insects on Earth. Honeybee populations have increased 45% worldwide over the last 50 years and there is no risk of this bee species going extinct. Honeybees are important pollinators of agricultural crops but do not belong in areas providing critical habitat for native bees and other pollinators.

    What’s wrong with honeybees in natural areas?

    • Honey bees compete with native pollinators for floral resources (food)
    • Honey bees may spread disease and parasites to our native insects
    • Honey bees prefer non-native plants and can contribute to the spread of invasive plants
    • Honey bees can interfere with the reproduction of native plants

    Want to help bees? Plant native plants and create habitat! This will help our native bees and honeybees!

    Our native bees and other pollinators (butterflies, moths, flies, and other insects) are in severe decline. Habitat loss, overuse of pesticides, industrial agriculture, and the loss of flowering plants have all contributed to this loss. By introducing honeybees, we add another stressor to our native bees that can have negative consequences. Help get the word out about native bees and their critical interdependent relationship with the natural world. All bees need adequate habitat that includes flowering plants. Introducing more populations of non-native bees when food is already scarce is counterproductive and has little to do with native pollinator conservation. Please, for the bees- think twice about introducing honeybees!

    Spread the word! Check out this factsheet!

    For further reading, go to: https://www.insidescience.org/news/how-bees-you-know-are-killing-bees-you-don’t

  • 01/07/2017 1:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Water is of major importance to all living things. Our bodies are composed of 65% water. We need clean water to drink, to water our crops for our food, for the animals that need it to survive, and for the ones that live in the water. I feel very fortunate that I was able to spend some time at both Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin camps in Cannon Ball, ND this fall. We donated a compressor, 4 garbage bags full of high quality winter gear, and boxes of food. Although we knew no one, we were welcomed with open arms. There was such a overwhelming sense of gratitude, peace, and mutual respect. The people at camp were such an amazing group of diverse people, yet, we were all there for one main reason: to advocate for clean water.

    My trip culminated with the Veteran's Day March. Native, non-native, active and retired military personnel followed by civilians marched in solidarity to the front lines for clean water. Hundreds of us stood in resistance to the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline which threatens to pollute the Missouri River and millions of people's water supply downstream. We all stood there in prayerful protest even though the DAPL workers surrounding us had bullet proof vests and helmets on and were carrying rifles and shot guns. It was a very surreal situation. During the ceremony, two bald eagles flew over us. Simplified, bald eagles are sacred to the Native Americans signifying courage, wisdom, strength, and they are the the messenger to the Creator. The eagles just reconfirmed to all of us that what we were doing, standing in unity for clean water, was meant to be and a worthy cause.

    There are many opportunities for people to fight for the right to have clean water, whether here or there. I do encourage people to go out to ND if able. If not, call your representatives, divest from the companies that support DAPL, and share on social media what is happening there.

    As I said at the beginning: Water is Life! Mni Waconi!

    Stephanie Johnson, Bush Lake Chapter Director and Member

  • 04/08/2015 9:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Minnesota Roads Taking Toll on Turtles

    HerpMapper, a new mapping application, helps to prove it.

    Submitted by Cheryl Wilke

    Roads have been an issue for turtles for as long as vehicles have been around. The density of roads and cars has increased to a point where this hazard is impacting the long-term survival of some Minnesota turtle populations. Fortunately, there are relatively simple road improvements and habitat modifications that can be made to reduce the number of turtles crossing roads.  These range from dedicated wildlife underpasses, modified culverts, wildlife-friendly curbs, and fences to enhanced nesting habitat. These mitigation efforts, however, can be expensive and are not always embraced by highway departments.

    The most effective way to communicate to highway departments the need for protection is tangible evidence showing which road stretches have a significant number of turtle crossings. Because State and County biologists cannot collect enough information to identify all of the significant crossings, public volunteers play a critical role in providing that data. 

    Do not put yourself in harm’s way to protect or document turtles

     or other wildlife observed on a roadway.


    HerpMapper, an online mapping and mobile phone application sponsored by HerpMapper, Minnesota Herpetological Society, and Three Rivers Park District, allows adult volunteers to submit locations of turtle crossings via your computer through the Herpmapper.org website; or by using HerpMapper’s Mobile Mapper application on your smartphone or tablet. Easy step-by-step instructions to create a HerpMapper account are provided at http://www.herpmapper.org/register


    In Minnesota, where all turtles are mainly aquatic, overland journeys usually occur during the annual early summer (late-May and June) nesting migration of egg laden females, or when newly hatched youngsters seek out the backwaters and ponds that will serve as their permanent home. Migration, again, occurs in early autumn when they return to deeper waters for winter hibernation.


    Data collected will be used to generate maps of known turtle crossing areas that can be shared with and used by conservation agencies and highway departments to prioritize and develop safer crossing areas. In addition, data can be collected in areas after mitigation strategies are put into place to better determine their efficacy.


    In June 2014, the Washington County Parks Department and Public Works opened a new “turtle tunnel” to help migrating turtles safely cross the road. The special German-built, under-the-road tunnel on County Highway 4 near Big Marine Lake in May Township, funnels turtles to the two-foot wide turtle tunnel by fences on both sides of the highway. County officials chose the tunnel’s location based on Minnesota Herpetological Society’s documentation of a large number of turtle crossings dangerous to both turtles and motorists, who were stopping on the two-lane highway to avoid hitting them. The Minnesota DNR says helping turtles, particularly females with eggs, safely cross roads is vital to the preservation of Minnesota’s turtle populations.  The tunnel is already a success.  The Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife Program has been posting photos on their Facebook page from a motion camera installed in the tunnels.  Turtles, frogs, skinks, woodchucks, ermine, and many other creatures have been using the tunnel to safely cross under the road!

    How can YOU help a turtle cross the road?

                      Don’t endanger yourself or others. When and where possible, pull off the road. Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic.

                      Allow turtle to cross on its own. If there is no oncoming traffic, allow turtle to cross unassisted.

                      If you need to speed up the turtle’s crossing, grasp it and all turtles, EXCEPT snapping turtles, gently along the shell edge near mid-point of body. (Note: turtles may empty bladder when lifted off ground. Don’t drop it.)

                      Snapping turtles should NEVER be picked up by the tail. This can damage the snapping turtle’s spinal cord. Use a branch, broomstick, or snow shovel to prod the animal along from behind. If the turtle bites the object, use it to drag the turtle to roadway edge.

              Maintain direction of travel. Move turtle low to the ground, in a direct line, and in the same direction it was traveling. Do NOT remove it from its area of habitat.

  • 04/08/2015 9:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WANTED: Walkers to Assist Turtle-Crossings on East Bush Lake Road and West Bush Lake Road During Migration Seasons 2015

    The turtles in West Bloomington, primarily painted and snapping turtles, will soon begin emerging from overwintering in Bush Lake and crossing these roads to shallower wetlands on the other side.

    Your Help Is Needed

    Your participation to help turtles cross East Bush Lake Road and West Bush Lake Road during their upcoming nesting season is vital to their preservation.

    Last May through mid October, one volunteer randomly logged 100+ painted turtle mortalities on East Bush Lake Road using the MN DNR-sanctioned GPS program, HerpMapper. Only a handful of snapping turtles were seen which might lead one to believe that this once turtle-vibrant area is losing this species.

    How do I participate?

    This is a volunteer-driven initiative supported by the Bush Lake Chapter. We encourage you to monitor East and West Bush Lake Roads via the existing walk/bike paths at your convenience and as often as possible during turtle migration seasons. In addition to walking with the purpose to assist turtles, you might consider joining others for nature-loving camaraderie by contacting Bush Lake Ikes member, Cheryl Wilke, at cwwilke@comcast.net. She will offer organized group times and locations.

    May I bring my children or grandchildren?

    Sorry, but the organized walks are for adults only.

    How long is the program? 

    End of April through October.

    What should I bring?

    Tennis shoes, gloves (latex), raincoat and boots if raining, and a shovel to assist moving snapping turtles.

    Can I take photographs?

    We’d love for you to take photos and collect data with your smartphone camera using HerpMapper. For information about how to upload and use HerpMapper, visit http://www.herpmapper.org/help  or contact Cheryl at cwwilke@comcast.net.

    Additional Information

    Minnesota Statute: Subd. 7. Cruelty. No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal or animals, or any act tending to produce cruelty to animals.

    If you see someone deliberately swerve his/her vehicle to kill a turtle on the road, safely attempt to snap a photograph of vehicle and license plate, and report this active cruelty to the local police department, the appropriate sheriff’s department, and cruelty investigators with the Animal Humane Society at (763) 489-2236 or www.animalhumanesociety.org/advocacy/humane-investigations.  All three agencies are responsible for enforcement of anti-cruelty laws. 

    Snappers Get a Bad Rap

    While snapping turtles are often blamed for a reduction in fish and waterfowl populations, studies show that they eat insignificant amounts of game fish. Mammalian nest predators and large fish kill far more waterfowl than do common snapping turtles. Snapping turtles are scavengers and clean up dead animals and fish. What most people don't know is that they also eat lots of plants. In fact, water plants make up to one one-third of their diet! Snapping turtles are important to have in our environment.

    About Our Neighborhood Turtles

    In late April/early May, turtles get antsy to start basking on warm, sunny days. The increase in body temperature is necessary for egg development within the female turtle.


    Nesting in Minnesota typically occurs during June. Females are most active in late morning and late afternoon, and at dusk. Nesting can occur as far as a mile from wetlands.

    After a development period of approximately two months, hatchlings leave the nest from mid-August through early-October.

    Nesting females and hatchlings are often at risk of being killed

    while crossing roads between wetlands and nesting areas.

    In addition to movements associated with nesting, all ages and both sexes move between wetlands from April through November.

    These movements peak in June and July, and again in September and October as turtles move to and from overwintering sites. In late autumn (typically November), turtles bury themselves in the substrate (the mud at the bottom) of deeper wetlands (i.e., Bush Lake) to overwinter.



  • 07/24/2013 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    WASHINGTON – July 23, 2013 – The House Appropriations Committee’s 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, released earlier today, doesn’t include funding for vital conservation programs, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA).

    “In the current fiscal climate, we understand that conservation programs must also receive scrutiny in the budget cutting process,” DU CEO Dale Hall said. “However, it is short sighted and unacceptable to completely zero out funding for conservation programs that are also economic drivers. NAWCA in particular is unique because it more than triples any investment by the federal government with non-federal funding through private partners.”

    NAWCA has translated more than $1 billion in federal appropriations over the life of the program into nearly $3.5 billion in additional economic activity. These expenditures have created, on average, nearly 7,500 new jobs (e.g. construction workers, biologists, engineers) annually in the United States, generating more than $200 million in worker earnings each year. Every federal dollar provided by NAWCA must be matched by at least one dollar from non-federal sources.

    The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and state wildlife grants are among the other conservation programs not funded in the fiscal year 2014 bill.

    “Wetlands protected and conserved by these programs do so much more than provide waterfowl and wildlife habitat. They lessen the effects of floods and hurricanes, prevent soil erosion and improve water quality,” said DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt. “They also provide opportunities for hunting, angling and other wildlife-dependent recreation that contributed more than $144.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011. Programs that provide such major returns on investment for our citizens and government should not be abandoned.”

    The bill sets baseline funding for Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Forest Service and other related agencies.

    Provided by Ducks Unlimited: www.ducks.org.
  • 05/08/2013 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    St. Louis Park becomes the 12th Hennepin County city to offer a residential organics recycling program. Advocates hope others will soon join in.

    Organic material makes up about 30 percent of Hennepin County's garbage.


    Garbage bins are filling with rotting vegetables and oily pizza boxes all over Hennepin County, yet few cities are doing anything to cut the waste that could be converted to environmentally friendly compost.

    Despite a decade of pilot programs, organics recycling is slow to catch on because of the cost, logistical problems and reluctance among homeowners, said John Jaimez, the county’s organics recycling program manager.

    The number of cities with organics recycling reached a dozen this week, when the St. Louis Park City Council unanimously approved starting organics recycling this fall. Recycling advocates say the city’s experience may prompt others to join in.

    Organic material makes up about 30 percent of Hennepin County’s garbage.

    “It is the largest portion of the waste stream that no one is doing anything about,” Jaimez said. “Basically it’s getting people to understand this is compostable undefined put it in this container.

    “It’s not rocket science.”

    Last year, Hennepin County produced about 1.4 million tons of garbage. About 40 percent of that was handled through conventional recycling, with another 3 percent going to organics recycling. Of the organics sent to recycling, little came from homes: Almost 99 percent was recycled by businesses, schools and other nonresidential properties.

    Besides St. Louis Park, curbside organics recycling is available in parts of Edina, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Orono and Shorewood and in all of Loretto, Maple Plain, Medicine Lake, Medina, St. Bonifacius and Wayzata. That’s an estimated 17,300 households in a county with more than 300,000 single-family households with curbside collection.

    Other cities are watching

    Still, officials think St. Louis Park’s approval of organics recycling could get other cities to follow.

    “Tons of cities have contacted me,” said Ginny Black, organics recycling coordinator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

    A lack of capacity also limits organics recycling, Black said.

    State rules require commercial composting sites to abide by many of the same rules as landfills. More commercial composters are expected to open if the state allows less expensive measures to protect ground and surface water, something that could happen later this year. The state’s goal is to divert 15 percent of waste to organics recycling by 2030.

    Last year, almost 14,000 tons of Hennepin County’s organic waste went to Specialized Environmental Technologies in Dakota County. Anne Ludvik is director of organics development for the firm, which sells compost as the Mulch Store.

    “There are a lot of cities talking about this behind the scenes, but some of them are waiting to see what St. Louis Park does,” Ludvik said.

    St. Louis Park’s action followed resident requests for organics recycling, said Scott Merkley, who oversees solid waste for the city. Collection begins Oct. 1. Residents will subscribe to the service, paying $40 a year for compostable bags and a cart to hold yard waste and bags of organic waste.

    Commercial composting sites accept meat, bones, dairy products and other waste that is unsafe for back-yard compost piles, which don’t get hot enough to kill pathogens. Paper cups and plates, pizza boxes, egg cartons and other items rejected by other recycling programs are also accepted. Keeping organic recyclables “clean” is important, which is why the city wants to enroll only paying residents who are willing to learn the system.

    Merkley estimates that 15 to 20 percent of residents will sign up. The $40 annual charge will help fill an expected $80,000 gap between program costs and recycling revenue next year. He said the city hopes that gap shrinks as more residents take part, but utility rates will probably increase to help pay for the program.

    ‘Becoming very mainstream’

    Organics recycling programs vary from city to city, but most of the 12 cities share a characteristic: Their garbage haulers are hired by the city, not individual homeowners, unlike most Hennepin cities. Some of those haulers collect organics for recycling, and the density of their routes matters.

    “What haulers are looking for is … lots of stops close together so they can fill their truck in a short period of time,” said Jaimez.

    In Wayzata, which pioneered organics recycling with a grant a decade ago, Randy’s Environmental Services hauls trash and organics. After using separate trucks for those duties, last winter Randy’s switched to a “Blue Bag” program that it markets nationwide. Organics are collected in compostable bags, put in the same can as trash and separated at the firm’s transfer station.

    Randy’s reports that in cities where it collects organics for recycling, about 40 percent of households take part.

    In Minnetonka, residents hire their own trash hauler from one of five firms. In 2007, the city used a grant to pilot organics recycling. Three haulers offered organics collection, but one has since dropped it for lack of business.

    Jaimez said that in certain Minneapolis neighborhoods, participation in organics recycling is at 75 percent and higher. Though he is frustrated that people who pay $4 for a cup of coffee sometimes object to paying $40 a year for organics recycling, he thinks it will grow in popularity.

    “This is becoming very mainstream,” he said. “Waste companies are starting to call themselves materials management companies, and they have major investments in organics recycling.”

    In cities such as Portland, Ore., recycling is so efficient that organics are collected weekly while garbage is collected just twice a month. The MPCA’s Black, who remembers living in Minneapolis when the first curbside recycling programs crawled into being, thinks organics recycling will build faster because people are used to recycling.

    "I think people are just really interested in recycling as much as they can,” she said. Organics recycling “makes a product out of waste, and it is good for the environment. People are amazingly interested in that.”

    Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380



  • 04/15/2013 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stormwater that would have flowed into lakes, making green algae, is planned to flow into golf course stormwater ponds, to make green grass.


    Nice thinking Woodbury!!!

  • 02/26/2013 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    "The industry does not need to use our future drinking water to wash sand," John Lenczewski, Mn state chapter of Trout Unlimited, testified at a Legislative listening session on the potential for frac sand mining regulation.


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