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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Aquatic life in Forest Lake – The good, the bad, and the ugly

It was a beautiful night for Arts in the Park; the air was cool, the storm clouds had passed, and a Beatles tribute band was rocking the pavilion. My Forest Lake friends – a damselfly larva and a crawling water beetle – were swimming to the beat of the music in a container full of…

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Celebrating 50 Years of flood prevention and water quality work in Valley Branch Watershed District

Much has changed since the Valley Branch Watershed District was established in 1968. At the time, development had just begun to boom in the eastern suburbs of St. Paul, with new neighborhoods springing up in Oakdale, Maplewood, and the Tri-Lakes area of Lake Elmo. Several years of rainy weather resulted in high lake levels and…

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Upcoming water workshops highlight new resources for teachers and hands-on lessons for kids

Dear Ms. Haydon and Hong: Thank you for the field trip. I think it was ok that we got lost but everyone makes mistakes. I learned a lot about nature and where the water flows and all about different waters and rivers and lakes. I hope you have a great time and have fun exploring…

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Lessons from a garden

Sometimes you think you have a really good idea, like planting vegetable gardens at your office. Full of enthusiasm, you put your family to work and spend an entire day tearing out sod, piecing together scrap lumber, and hauling in dirt. It is hard work but you feel proud. Then it is the next year,…

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Be the change you wish to see in your community: Become a Master Water Steward!

It’s 6:30pm on a Tuesday night and a small group is gathered inside the Scandia Pizzeria to hear neighbor Tom Furey talk about water quality in Bone Lake. Ten years ago, Bone Lake was considered to be one of the worst lakes in Washington County. The water was murky, phosphorus and algae levels were high,…

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