Monday, August 4, 2014

Six splashy ways to have fun at Second Saturday

By Kate Havelin
6. Water is one of the main attractions of Coldwater Spring. The park gets its name from a groundwater spring, so our August 9th Second Saturday goes with the flow. Stay cool near the spring house and creek, where the water averages 56 degrees.
5. Big time bug fun! Grab one of our nets to nab some water bugs and get a bugs-eye view at what’s living in the water. For more bug fun, create your own dragonfly, using our craft supplies. Who can resist playing with pipe cleaners, tissue paper, and sparkly stickers?

4. Junior Ranger badges are coveted items your kids can earn at Second Saturday. Chat with a National Park Service ranger as you play in the park.

3. Use all your senses! Listen to Coldwater’s creek burble, brush your hand along tall grasses, smell wildflowers, and savor the joys of playing outside.

2.  Our scavenger hunts, geocaches, and Adventure Quest give visitors of all ages and abilities oodles of ways to explore Coldwater. From a simple scavenger hunt perfect for little kids to a challenging Quest with rhyming clues, we’ve got adventures for all.  Borrow our National Park GPS units to find cool caches hidden in the park. The geocache course is easy, so whether you’re new to geocaching or not, come scout out our adventures.

1. Free! Second Saturdays won’t drain your budget. So make a splash with your friends and family and bring them to a super Second Saturday at Coldwater Spring.  From now through October, Second Saturdays at Coldwater happen from 9 AM to noon. Coldwater is at 5601 Minnehaha Park Drive South, Mpls. Just show up, ready to play in the park

Friday, August 1, 2014

River's Down, So Let's Plant!

We finally had the big day! I've been working with partners from the City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation and the University of Minnesota in designing and getting ready for the cottonwood restoration experiment since last October. Last Thursday, we finally got to put some cottonwoods in the ground at Lilydale Regional Park.

Putting the finishing touches on a planting site.
I was relieved that while the record flooding delayed our planting by over a month, it at least killed the nettles that earlier in the spring had blanketed the forest opening we were planting in. With the nettles dead, bare mineral soils were exposed, perfect for cottonwood planting. The ground was also moist from the flood, again good for the young cottonwoods. The conditions looked ideal.

We carefully laid out the flags. White flags striped with red were for live stake cuttings that would have tubing protecting them.
Our cottonwoods were planted in plots placed in a forest opening and in a field. Individual plots had either 50 seeds, 5 live stake cuttings volunteers collected last winter, or 5 rooted cuttings to help us determine which propagation method will be most successful. Some  plots were fenced and others received tree tubes so we can study the best way to protect the young trees. To help everyone keep track where everything should be planted we color coded each planting type and put corresponding flags around the site.

St. Paul's Eco Rangers helped prep the site and plant.

50 seeds were carefully raked into the soil.

Going full circle, a volunteer that helped collect cuttings excitedly planted them.

Plantra donated protective tubing for the young trees.

We will be tending to and monitoring the plots throughout the growing season to track how well each of the different plots are doing, which will help us determine the best way to plant cottonwoods throughout the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Thanks for your help, Eco Rangers and volunteers! We're looking for more volunteers to take care of the young trees. If you're interested, contact Maria.