Environment & Outdoors

Lisa Johnson

Will we break the record for the driest July ever?

Between the heat and smoke from Canadian wildflowers, we haven't seen the sky in a while.  What's the moon up to these days?

Are wildflowers really changing again?

And where do we sign to have the goldenrod named as the National Flower? Is that even a thing?

Larry Weber has the answers this week on Backyard Almanac.

Carrie Chesnik/Rights of Mississippi River

It was supposed to be a chance for scientists, Indigenous organizers and leaders, and a broad swath of regional decision-makers at all levels to come together and see first-hand what the drought is doing to the lakes and rivers in northern Minnesota.

At issue is Enbridge's recent request to take almost five billion gallons of water as they work their way across the state with the Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

And with the most widespread drought areas in the state in eight years, those five billion gallons are looking more and more significant.

Then, in the middle of the tour, attendees came across a group of Enbridge employees working to clean up a frac-out - a spill of drilling fluid - in a wetland.

Jean-Raphaël Guillaumin/Wikimedia

Grasshoppers and potato bugs will damage your flowers and vegetables, yes.  But leaf hoppers, despite their tiny size, are the malarial mosquitos of the plant world.

Leaf hoppers can carry the aster yellows bacteria, and once a plant is infected, there's no saving it.

Lisa Johnson

As we slip into those lazy, hazy, crazy days of mid-summer, there's plenty to see whether we take a sidewalk stroll or hike in a wilderness area.

Watch for photographers: they've either got a bead on a beautiful plant, bird, animal or insect, or they're like naturalist (and our special guest host) Judy Gibbs and they're doing their part as citizen scientists and documenting the spread of invasive species in our area.

And while we know Duluth is a great place to live, why does valerian think so, too?

The folks concerned about rezoning a chunk of land off Vassar Street in the Woodland neighborhood aren't opposed to more housing going up;  they just aren't sure right above the Amity Creek watershed is the right place for it.

Bob King

The forest fire smoke from Canada that has enveloped our region with haze in the last several days has made for colorful sunrises and sunsets (and reddish moonlight as well), but it has also limited the ability to stargaze. Bob King remarked that, the other night (which was cloudless but hazy), he could only count six stars in the night sky.  

Minnesota Historical Society

This week, we had two days of temperatures above 90° -- and then Brimson almost broke the record with a low of 30°.

But nothing tops the week of July 7-13 in 1936, when the entire country sweltered under a series of heat waves. 17 of the 48 contiguous states and two Canadian provinces tied or broke their all-time heat records and many of those records are still unbroken.

In Duluth, six of those records still stand: doubly impressive when you learn temperatures were only recorded by the lake in those days.

Fabrice Florin/Flickr

There's nothing quite like the energy of young people these days.

Whether fueled by passion, anger, or love of the planet, they're fired up, tech-savvy and not afraid to use their powers for good.

Aphids, Gareth Thompson and leaf-hopper, Laurie Boyle, both via Flickr. Chipmunk, Lisa Johnson

The more time you spend in your garden, chances are the more you'll notice everyone else who wants to hang out there, too.  From deer and rabbits to chipmunks and leaf-hoppers, Tom Kasper talks about how to manage the undeniable attraction of your vegetables, flowers and berries.

Mushroom and dewberries, JR Kelsey. Inexpert cell phone, Lisa Johnson

Last month blew through the previous record (set in 1910) for the hottest June on record - and that's 150 years of records.

We got only 40% of the rain we get in an average June, too.

But last year, July was our wettest month. And there are all kinds of things to see and enjoy (think wildflowers, berries and aphelion) in the great outdoors.

Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac/Flickr

Jupiter and Saturn have switched spots from a year ago, an asterism is not the same as an asteroid or even an asterisk, the noctilucent clouds may be on fine display again this evening, and if you invest some money now, you can buy a great telescope to view the giant comet 2014 UN271 when it swings by in 2031.

Or maybe you'll have enough to buy a ticket on space flight to see it in person.

Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Hotter than normal and drier than normal, but still not as bad as last June at this time.

Halfway through 2021, that's the June wrap-up.

Meanwhile, birds from fledgling hummingbirds (at about the weight of a penny) to young Great blue herons (who can weigh about as much as a big bottle of ketchup) are leaving their nests for the big wild world.

St Louis River Alliance/Facebook

The St. Louis River isn't going to take a back seat to Lake Superior any longer.

There's no better proof of the years of successful cleanup efforts than its newest accolade: Minnesota's newest National Water Trail.

Tom Kasper

Customers have been racing into garden centers across the Northland, breathlessly begging for milkweed plants because they're "overrun with monarch caterpillars!"

Popular pollinators, getting kids excited about gardening and wow! Have you seen all the butterflies? - this week on Tips for Hardy Gardeners.

Bernard DuPont [via Flickr]

Summer solstice is two days away. Whereas nine years ago during the summer solstice the region was literally flooding with record rainfall, this June rainfall totals are at less than one-half inch so far -- two inches below normal. Many bird fledglings are emerging, and some lake frogs are calling and beginning to mate. Some butterfly species are making their first appearance for the year.

Among other wildflowers that you can see, the Minnesota state flower, the pink lady's slipper, is in bloom. And berry season is beginning as well!