Lynnhurst Environmental Committee

Who We Are

The Lynnhurst Environmental Committee (LEC), part of the Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association, is a group of volunteer residents primarily focused on local concerns that affect the environmental quality and sustainability of the neighborhood.

LYNNHURST

With Lake Harriet and Minnehaha Creek both partially within our borders, our land and water stewardship efforts involve removal of invasive plants, managing an Adopt-A-Storm Drain Program, and promoting residential rain and pollinator gardens. 

BEYOND LYNNHURST

We also offer resources for residents to learn about environmental concerns that extend beyond Lynnhurst: invasive species, solid waste issues (e.g., recycling, organics collection, zero-waste initiatives), electric vehicle transportation, solar energy for homes, and other climate actions.

GET INVOLVED

We are an active committee and welcome volunteers to join us in our efforts. Currently, the bulk of volunteer action is working in groups to remove invasive plants and restore natural areas with native species. Any amount of time you have to volunteer is appreciated and valued.

FIND US

Join us the first Monday of the month (except January and August) from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Lynnhurst Community Center (find next meeting here). Or email us if you want to be contacted for more information about volunteering or joining the LEC.

Photo courtesy of Code & Content, LLC

Upcoming LEC Events

  • March 4, 2024, 6:30 pm: LEC Monthly Meeting
  • April 1, 2024, 6:30 pm: LEC Monthly Meeting
  • May 6, 2024, 6:30 pm: LEC Monthly Meeting
  • June 3, 2024, 6:30 pm: LEC Monthly Meeting
  • July 1, 2024, 6:30 pm: LEC Monthly Meeting

Green Information

No Mow May

Are you curious? Are you interested in giving it a try this year?

Backstory
No Mow May is a conservation program that was started in the United Kingdom in 2018 by Bee Friendly Trust, a charity that works to protect and promote bees and other pollinators.

It has garnered participants from dozens of communities in multiple countries. There is evidence that No Mow May works to boost local pollinator populations.

Minneapolis
Well, if you live in Minneapolis, grass longer than 8 inches may be reported and if not cut within 3 days, could result in the city cutting it for you at your cost. https://www.minneapolismn.gov/report-an-issue/long-grass-or-weeds/

It takes a long time for grass to reach 8 inches.

Surrounding Cities
This year Edina, West St. Paul and Rochester are participating in No Mow May. Check out their websites.

https://www.bettertogetheredina.org/no-mow-may

https://wspmn.gov/946/No-Mow-May

https://www.rochestermn.gov/government/departments/parks-and-recreation/forestry/forestry-ordinance-enforcement/tall-grass-weeds

Why do this?

  • Increase habitat for insects & wildlife-wildflowers and pollinating insects when both are in sharp decline. 
  • Save energy and reduce our CO2 emissions by not using mowers and equipment  
  • Promote sustainable landscapes for healthy waterways
  • Create an environment for observation and learning
  • Encouraging native plant growth

There are other things you can do instead or in addition to No Mow May:

For more information check out University Of Minnesota
https://turf.umn.edu/may-i-not-mow-may

https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/what-not-mowing-may-could-mean-your-lawn

https://beelab.umn.edu/no-mow-may

For motivation, here are some David Attenborough Quotes:
“Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species.”

“The truth is the natural world is changing and we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. The most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”

“The natural world is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”

Spring and Fall Habitat Garden Care for Pollinator Conservation

by Vicki Bonk, Nokomis Naturescape Volunteer Garden Steward

Native Plant Gardens at Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis MN

The Nokomis Naturescape was planted in 1998 with three native plant habitat gardens. This distinct type of gardening partners with nature, striving to provide food and shelter (habitat) to diverse native wildlife. The Naturescape demonstration gardens are maintained by volunteers* - chiefly native plant enthusiasts. We have learned through the years to modify our fall and spring clean-up routines with the goal of minimizing disturbance to beneficial wildlife. Our maintenance role is to enhance their shelter and ability to overwinter successfully. After all, pollinators make the world go round!

In the Fall, Less is More

There are many good reasons to leave things as they stand in the fall. It can be an adjustment to abandon the long-standing garden practice of raking and clipping the garden clean. Tidy zeal eliminates many creatures playing a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. Native bees, butterflies, moths, ladybugs, birds plus many more in the web of life, receive habitat benefits if we simply let the gardens be. People, too, are given the nature connection of a nuanced landscape with a sense of place. For instance, snow-capped dried seed heads add winter interest while providing wildlife food and shelter. Sure, some fall maintance is required, i.e. weeding invasive species, keeping clear edges and debris from streets, but the approach is deliberately gentle.

In the Spring, Tend with Care

When spring finally arrives in Minnesota, the urge to poke around in the garden comes natural. We want to get outside, look for emerging plants and often to “clean-up”. How to garden care-fully with native wildlife habitat in mind first and foremost? In early spring, many beneficial insects are not active yet, some still in hibernation, nesting or in pupae form. How to care for the garden without disturbing the creatures we want to conserve?

* Learn about the Nokomis Naturescape and volunteer opportunities at:

Nokomis East Neighborhood Association nokomiseast.org Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board minneapolisparks.org Wild Ones Twin Cities wildonestwincities.org

Do a Garden Study

Get outside and enjoy an investigative stroll. What plants are showing signs of life? Are blooming? See any early pollinators? Consider what plants to add and wildlife to invite. How has your garden environment changed from last year and what adjustments would improve pollinator habitat? A deliberate study can help you consider habitat priorities before diving into a spring clean-up that could clean-out many beneficial insects with their shelters.

Protect Pollinator Homes

One way to develop a habitat point-of-view, is to consider the following elements on your grounds as potential homes for unseen beings since they very well may be. With this in mind, modify your garden care actions. Step away from the habit of blowing, raking, clipping and bagging all that valuable biomass, that is then hauled away, diminishing important insect populations in the process.

Plant Stems: Many helpful insects including tiny native bees, pest-eating predators like lacewings and syrphid flies, overwinter in hollow plant stems. CARE: 1. Avoid cutting down plant stems too early in spring. 2. When cutting back, leave at least 15” of stem and let that remain up over the growing season for insect cavity dwellings the following year. 3. Cut stems may be strewn on the ground to double as mulch and insect havens. 4. Another solution is to bundle, tie and hang horizontallly, a few dozen of the stems to serve as homes for native cavity dwelling bees.

Leaf Litter: The leaf litter is a wintering nest for many beneficial adult insects, as well, as eggs and pupae. Some adult butterflies, such as mourning cloak, question marks, and commas hibernate in the leafy beds. CARE: 1. Wait until temperatures warm to remove leaves from perennial gardens (to at least a steady string of 50 degree days). 2. Leave at least a layer to act as moisture-retaining mulch while adding soil nutrition and fiber.

Soil: A variety of insects overwinter in soil burrows in either adult, egg or pupae form, including hummingbird clearwing moths and many native bees. CARE: 1. Keep the soil uncovered and do not mulch especially with a thick wood chip layer (or plastic). 2. Wait to mulch until weather warms and soil is drier. 3. Try to maintain some open soil areas in your yard or garden.

Woody Perennials: A variety of butterflies and moths overwinter as cocoons and chrysalises suspended on branches.
CARE: Keep a look out for cocoons and chrysalises as you prune. Leave the occupied branch be or place cut branch in a safe place to emerge.

These simple actions add up from garden to garden, making a significant difference towards healthier pollinator populations.

Creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is a perennial forb from Eurasia and a member of the Bluebell family that many locals mistake for a native wildflower and allow to grow freely. It often escapes to natural areas where it forms patches that can crowd out native plants. The plants spread by seed as well as underground runners (rhizomes) that form large carrot-like white tubers. While above ground only a few leaves may be visible, below ground are constantly spreading fibrous roots. In Wisconsin this plant is restricted, i.e., illegal to grow or transport. And in Lynnhurst, creeping bellflower has taken over in some areas, displacing native plants. 

The best way to eliminate creeping bellflower is to dig at least 6” deep to locate and remove all rhizomes and perennial roots. Chemicals don't work because of the large root systems. Missed roots will re-sprout, requiring a sustained effort. However, it's well worth the effort to stop this invasive plant from further damaging our beautiful neighborhood gardens and natural areas. 

More information
Visit these websites to learn more:

Campanula rapunculoides (Creeping Bellflower): Minnesota Wildflowers

Is this plant a weed? : Garden : University of Minnesota Extension (umn.edu)

For those who use Facebook, there is an engaging, informative and often funny group called “Creeping Bellflower Battles” that anyone can join. It’s a recommended resource for those who are struggling with this unwanted invasive plant in their gardens.

Buckthorn is a RESTRICTED NOXIOUS WEED, illegal to import, sell or transport in Minnesota. Why? Per the University of Minnesota Extension, “It completely eliminates plant diversity in the understory over time.” and “Common buckthorn is the overwinter host for the soybean aphid.” (Soybean aphid, itself an invasive insect, feeds on the plant sap damaging both the yield and quality of soybeans). Also, all parts of the buckthorn are mildly toxic to animals and humans.

The Lynnhurst Environmental Committee (LEC) is actively engaged in eliminating buckthorn from public spaces in Lynnhurst. While there are several species of buckthorn, the most likely species in our neighborhood are Common Buckthorn and Glossy Buckthorn.

Buckthorn originated in Europe and Asia, where it has natural enemies like insects and fungus which evolved to help keep it in control. It was imported to Minnesota for hedges and landscaping, but alas, here in the USA it has no natural controls and has become one of the worst invasives in MN.

In the urban environment such as Lynnhurst, the biggest impact of buckthorn is that it will eliminate plant diversity in the understory, which is the “layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest”. There are some private properties in Lynnhurst that have buckthorn used as hedges. Those hedges can be kept under control with trimming, particularly trimming the berries before they mature and disposing the berries in the trash, not in the yard waste but in the trash can.

Lynnhurst also has a large area of land managed by Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The two MPRB areas that have the biggest buckthorn problem are 1) along the southwest portion of Lake Harriet and 2) Minnehaha Creek between Penn and Lyndale Avenues. MPRB needs volunteer help to manage these areas. Several members of the LEC, along with some other volunteers, have been working for several years to eliminate buckthorn. It is hard work mostly done by digging out the roots and/or cutting off the main truck and any regrowth of branches.

To some it does appear a Sisyphean task, but it is also rewarding and we are making a difference. Check out the boulevards on the south end of Lake Harriet, the hillside on the east side of Lake Harriet, and the creek west of Lyndale and the creek going east from Penn Avenue. We are happy to have more volunteers anytime. Contact: Jim Nicholas at 612-822-2326 or jnicholas5329@gmail.com; or Richard Schmidt at 714-944-3522 or richdyan1@gmail.com for more information.

What is it?
Garlic Mustard is an invasive species from Europe and Asia on the restricted weed list. It’s an herbaceous plant found in woodlands and disturbed areas.

Why is it bad?
Garlic Mustard inhibits the beneficial fungi associated with native plants causing a decline in other vegetation within five to seven years. It takes over an area.

How to identify it?
Garlic Mustard grows 1-6 inches tall in its first year and 1-4 feet tall in its second year. It flowers in the second year with many small white flowers each with four petals. It is often the only plant blooming in wooded areas in May. The leaves are dark green with a scalloped edge that smell like garlic when crushed.

What to do about it?
Garlic Mustard should be pulled out by hand being sure to get most of the white taproot. If it’s flowering or has seeds, the plants need to be disposed of in the trash – not composted – so it does not spread.

Learn More
You can find more information on the UofM Extension website.

Siberian Squill is a little blue bell-shaped flower that sprouts under trees and bushes right after the snow melts. It blooms before most anything has a chance to leaf out. The leaves are five-inch long and grass-like. 

As the name implies, squill is from Siberia and is not native to North America. It spreads easily to natural areas by self-seeding or bulb offshoots. Squill crowds out good spring native plants like bloodroot, wild ginger, trillium, and liverwort. 

Getting rid of squill is a challenge. The flowers can be plucked off before the seeds form to prevent another generation of new plants. Squill has a bulb three to four inches deep into the soil that needs to be dug out to kill the plant. Flowers, seeds, and bulbs should be put in the trash – not composted or put in yard waste – to prevent the spread.

More information
Visit these websites to learn more:
https://extension.umn.edu/identify-invasive-species/squill
https://www.larkspurplantresources.info/2021/05/the-pretty-problem-of-siberian-squill.html

electric carAre you considering making the jump from your internal combustion engine (ICE) to an electric vehicle? MNEVBuyer.com is where you can start. It is a crash course in all things electric vehicles. Created and maintained by Jukka Kukkonen (engineer, consumer educator, climate advocate, university instructor), this former ICE engineer is paving the way for us consumers to enter what he has dubbed the EV decade. MNEVBuyer.com is sponsored by St. Paul-based clean energy advocacy organization Fresh Energy. 

MNEVBuyer.com is both primer to the EV world and in-depth research tool on the decisions new EV buyers face. From basic questions to detailed concerns, this part buyer guide and part consumer education site takes on consideration of vehicle range and maintenance, charging plan specifics down to working with your utility company 

If you have made the switch to electric, you may already know Jukka and the the Minnesota Electric Vehicle Club (MN EV Club).  If not, check it out at shift2electric.com/evowners. With the motto “Meet, Learn, Educate,” club members gather monthly for topic-specific discussions, often with guest speakers. The Club educates about EV ownership by talking with visitors at promotional EV events. 

Coming Soon

Environmental Programs

Consider adopting a storm drain near your home or business

Remember all those flooded intersections in March? Many residents helped by clearing away the ice and snow from the catch basin, AKA storm drain, to allow the water to drain. This is also important during the spring, summer, and fall when leaves, sticks, and other debris accumulate and are then washed into the drains and our local waters when it rains.

Join other Lynnhurst residents making a positive difference by ADOPTING A STORM DRAIN near your home or business. This involves removing leaves and other debris covering the drain and placing the leaves/sticks in your yard waste bags for collection. Please place non-yard waste materials in your recycling or trash.  Recruit your neighbors to work with you!

Contact Becky at 612-239-3208 or wardellgaertnerbecky47@gmail.com to sign up. THANK YOU!

Note: You may also adopt a nearby storm drain through the statewide program administered by Hamline University. This program includes easy reporting so that your impact can be tracked along with the impact of others. There are also good “drain clearing and pollution prevention tips” that you may find helpful.

Perhaps you have walked or driven along Minnehaha Creek or Lake Harriet and have seen volunteers with shovels, machetes, and saws creating piles of branches and weeds along the path and wondered, “What’s going on?” You have seen the Lynnhurst Invasive Plant Volunteers making a difference.  

This group is always in need of more people to help eradicate the plants that have invaded our parkland. The group’s main focus is Buckthorn along Lake Harriet. Garlic Mustard, Burdock, Buckthorn, Motherwort, Nightshade, and Tartarian Honeysuckle are the focus along the creek. 

Please consider joining! Buckthorn removal at Lake Harriet is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon, near 43rd Street & Lake Harriet Parkway. They work along the north side of Minnehaha Creek from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, at the Bryant bridge. 

Any amount of volunteer time is welcomed – 10 minutes to the full three hours. Bring gloves (it’s BuckTHORN, after all), a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, good work shoes, and a water bottle. The volunteer team has extra shovels and other needed instruments. Volunteers are most needed on the Monday, Wednesday, Thursday crews.

Join the endeavor to make our parkland more native
Email us at environment@lynnhurst.org and mention you are interested in volunteering for invasive removal. Or simply show up between 9 a.m. and noon at either location on the noted weekday during the season. The group works through September.

 

 

Beyond Our Borders

Articles coming soon.

 

 

Resources

Contact Us

Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association (LYNAS)

3109 W. 50th St., PMB 283
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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