Green Visions

A Northland Morning feature focusing on local environmental issues, heard Wednesdays at 8:20 a.m.  Green Visions is brought to you by All Energy Solar, Minnesota Power Energy Conservation Program, and Energy Plus.

If you mention "natural gas" to Melissa Partin, she's likely as not to correct you.

Michigan Sea Grant/Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative

Phragmites.

You say "frag-MITE-eez," not "FRAG-mites."

But the most important thing to know about phragmites is that it's an invasive, non-native species, not to be confused with native phragmites.

The invasives came to America originally from central and eastern Europe, and they've been marching steadily - if slowly - across the continent from New England.

Now the Community Action Duluth Stream Corps, headed by Brandon Van Tassel, is tasked with getting rid of the plants, which are a perfect topic of conversation this close to Halloween.

Brandon Knott

Dr. Brandon Knott and the other members of the international team working on a better way to recycle plastics are excited about their work.

For one thing, they're trying to solve a problem that everyone "gets," more or less.

Here's the deal: when you recycle plastics these days, it's done with machines that grind them up, melt them down, and make new stuff out of them.

St. Louis River Alliance

For decades, the St. Louis River Alliance has been leading the charge to heal the badly polluted St. Louis River.

Spurred by the enthusiasm of more and more people drawn every year to the water to volunteer, recreate or just sit and watch the water flow by, the St. Louis River has continued its comeback story.

From cleaning up the pollution left by decades of dumping in the river, to fostering habitat for wild rice, sturgeons and piping plovers, people have been working hard to heal the St. Louis River.

Alfredo Eloisa/Flickr

It's still 2020, so of course we'd have a new invasive species in Minnesota, right?

Meet the "jumping worm,"  a slightly-hysterical creature that hatches early, grows fast, makes more little earthworms quickly, and can wreak havoc on your garden or anywhere it finds itself.

Jumping worms live in the top two or three inches of soil, and there can be so many, comsuming organic material so fast, that nothing can take root.

Haley Diem

Haley Diem was a little embarrassed this past weekend.

The One Vegetable, One Community coordinator (it's a new position this year at the Duluth Community Garden Program) had just covered every flat surface of her kitchen with home-grown produce and had only one thing left before she began her annual salsa-making operation: getting some canning jars.

Long story short, Diem returned home sans jars and had to start dumping out condiments and Mason-jar vases in order to start canning.

Filip Mroz/Unsplash

It's not just couch potatoes that the Great Lakes Gear Exchange wants to get outside.

Maybe you feel like the only person in the Northland who doesn't know how to cross-country ski and you're a little shy about admitting that.

Maybe your budget can't stretch to equip yourself with brand-new gear for a brand-new hobby.

Copyright Bob King. Used with permission.

At least, when it comes to dark skies, that is.

Northlanders probably remember the first time they stepped out of the tent in the middle of the night and saw the stars hanging right in the treetops, close enough to touch.

MPCA

Here's something more fun to think about than online learning or how to get kids to social distance: electric school buses.

The $2.9 billion dollar settlement the federal government reached with Volkswagen over the car maker's violation of emissions standards has meant, among other things, that Minnesota can spend $3 million dollars of its share on an electric bus pilot program.

Are electric school buses feasible in our double-digit-below-zero winter temperatures?

Copyright John P. Richardson. Used with permission.

When Larry Weber announced two weeks ago that the Hawk Ridge Raptor Count was starting this past Saturday (August 15), you could almost hear the groan of "No - already?"

The fact is, birds - and visitors - have been amassing at Hawk Ridge for awhile now.

Ironically, the fact that people aren't flying seems to mean they're more interested in watching birds who are.  The normally unflappable counters and other staff are looking at the August attendance - already way up - and trying to figure out how that will play out in September, and how they can keep everyone safe.

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, published a new book, called Eyewitness: Minnesota Voices on Climate Change, that features short stories, poems, and artwork authored by prominent figures and ordinary people across the state.  KUMD speaks with Erin Sharkey, poet, essayist, and graphic designer who was a member of Climate Generation's Selection Committee for the anthology.

NRRI/University of Minnesota Duluth

With the help of researchers at NRRI, ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer are being repurposed in pilot projects in Minnesota as biochar.  This material can filter harmful chemicals from storm water runoff, enhance soil microbial health, increase soil drought resistance and store carbon in soils to mitigate climate change.

Brenda LaFrancois/Nat'l Park Service

We've pretty much gotten the message that we - and our dogs - need to look out for blooms of cyanobacterial (blue-green) algae on lakes.

But now they may be popping up on Lake Superior.

Two factors contribute to algal blooms on the big lake: warm temperatures over a period of weeks that warm the lake water, and heavy rainfalls.

There's not a lot of data yet, but those conditions were present in 2012 and 2018 - and so were big blooms of blue-green algae in the big lake.

www.nautique.com

The controversy over wake boats, the pricey recreational craft designed to make a huge wake for folks to board or ski on, threatens to swamp lakes, townships and counties across the state, particularly since Minnesota boating laws don't yet have anything to say about them, specifically.

Patrick Hendry at Unsplash/Office of the MN Attorney General

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has listened to oil companies try to dodge responsibility for pollution and climate change by arguing there are a lot of potential polluters and who can say who'se really responsible?

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