Living the buckthorn and bittersweet life

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I have a faint (ever-so-faint) recollection of the carefree joy I used to feel while hiking in the woods. “Aren’t these woods pretty?” I would think. “Look at all those pretty wildflowers along the roadside. Isn’t life grand?” My bliss was permanently disrupted, though, when I took my first ecology class…

Read More

Using models to guide water restoration efforts

Jim Almendinger, Director of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, has spent nearly 30 years studying the connections between rain, runoff, land use, and water quality. We know that many of our favorite waterways have too much sediment and phosphorus. As a result, we see more algae blooms during the summer and fewer fish on…

Read More

When the sprinklers are running but the grass is still dry

Have you ever wondered why some parts of your lawn remain stubbornly dry even on days when the sprinklers have run? You might be surprised to learn that water pressure is often to blame. According to Lindsay Brown, most cities serve homes with water at a pressure of about 60 psi (pounds per square inch).…

Read More

The day the lake disappeared

Have you ever built a lake? William Newman did. When the construction company owner from Chicago moved to Delton, Wisconsin in 1926, he immediately bought all of the land along both sides of Dell Creek and set to work to create his lake. One year later, a 30-ft high dam and 1000-ft long dike blocked…

Read More

Stepping off the beaten path and into Mooer’s Park charm

For a big river, the Mississippi can be awfully hard to find. Though it traverses 21 miles of Washington County, from the City of Newport to the St. Croix River confluence in Hastings-Prescott, there are precious few places to access the water as it flows. To find the river here requires a road map and…

Read More

Putting Down Roots in the Prairie

The roots of the leadplant chart a course toward the center of the earth. Thirsty and longing for stability, they branch, spread and burrow further and further into the soil. Encountering a rock or a flat pan of clay, they will pause, turn, and then continue their travels laterally. In sandy soils, where rainwater is…

Read More

Water you waiting for?

“All operators are busy at the moment. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in approximately…60 minutes.” I was checking in on-line for a flight recently when I noticed that my name was wrong on the ticket. I called the airline and waited on hold for 1 hour, 7 minutes, and…

Read More

Goldilocks forecasts the weather

“It should be cooling down to 95° by the time you get here, but we’re still in an extreme drought,” my dad lamented as we discussed my upcoming visit to Pueblo. The weather has been so hot and dry in Colorado this summer that people aren’t even allowed to smoke outside in many places, due…

Read More

Along came a loon and swam up beside her

I’m training for an Ironman triathlon and, despite my best intentions to prevent triathlon from taking over my life, triathlon has taken over my life. On a typical day I get up at 4:45am to fit in my first workout before starting work at 7am. I do my second workout over lunch, leaving the evening…

Read More

Secrets to success: Cleaner water and healthy landscapes

It shouldn’t be a secret, but you might be surprised to learn that 49% of lakes in Washington County have improving water quality. Trout are surviving and may be reproducing in Brown’s Creek again. Woodbury has cut its annual groundwater use by nearly 35 million gallons in only one year, and Bone Lake in Scandia…

Read More