Friday, March 31, 2017

Nature Goals - Update #1

In 2017, I pared back my nature goals a bit to the ones that I feel are realistic and meaningful to me.

1. Take 6 new hikes.

So far I have taken 2 out of 6 new hikes for the year.

Went to Pine Point Regional Park in Stillwater, Minnesota, on Sunday, March 26th.

I have never been to this park nor had I ever heard of it.

Two geese flew up from the pond.
They are in the upper right part of the photo.

It was a bit chilly - only 37 degrees out.

The trail led down to a pond area where there were a few beaver lodges.

There were some moss clumps on the side of the trail which were interesting to see.

Also found out that this park is at the end of the Gateway State Trail which goes from Stillwater to St. Paul.

It also links up with the Brown Creek Trail. It looks like a nice paved road for those who enjoy riding bikes; or want to run or walk.

At this time of the year there isn't a tremendous amount of things to see. However, there was a hole in one of the trees.

It was more near the base than in the middle or upper section. Wondered if it was a woodpecker or other bird that made the hole.

On Thursday, March 30th, I went to Wind in the Pines in Scandia, Minnesota. According to the website about the park:
Wind in the Pines Park is thought to be one of the most diverse ecological areas left in Washington County by the Minnesota DNR. This 44-acre site is located in the northeast corner of the Township along State Highway 95 across from Pilar Road.
Bounded by the Falls Creek SNA to the north and the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway to the east, this parcel offers diversity of old growth forest and pristine prairies- providing invaluable wildlife habitat and unparalleled scenic value.
We were going to hike there once, but had the dogs with us. Dogs are not allowed in the park, so we weren't able to hike there. On the 30th, I didn't have the dogs with me and it was a nice day - in the 50s.

Took a hike on the main pathway since I was unfamiliar with the park and no one knew I was there. At any rate, it was a nice, peaceful hike.

Although I didn't see any wildlife, I heard crows around in the prairie area. Further into the woods, there was an owl.

It was a nice break from the day, and a glimpse into this beautiful parcel of land.

I'd like to go back again later this spring and see how the park look once the trees fill in.

2. Assist as needed with the Wildlife Project Bowl team for our 4-H Club which includes reading 6 nature books or publications.

I attended all the weekly meetings from the first week in January through mid-March in preparation for the regional Project Bowl. The team was undefeated and placed first in the region!

The team before one of the competitions.
The opposing team sat in four desks and
had buzzers just like our team.

They are advancing to the state level on April 8th and we are meeting weekly from March 23rd-April 6th.

The team with their first-place medals.
Olivia and Sophia are to the far right.

During the first seven weeks of practices, I did not sit in with Sophia (who was coaching the team again this year). After that point, I sat in on meetings to see how the team was doing and suggest what they needed to concentrate on to prepare for the competition.

In terms of reading, this year I concentrated on reading and writing questions from two publications: Woodworking for Wildlife and Landscaping for Wildlife.


I asked two other parents to read and write questions for the six Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazines. It was good to delegate and spread the work load among the parents.

I skimmed through the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazines, but did not read them as in depth as during the past two years when we've done the Wildlife Project Bowl.

Since I didn't thoroughly read six publications, I thought I'd pick four more wildlife/animal/nature books to read during the rest of the year. I'm working on Animal Dialogues now which I'm enjoying.

3. Visit 5 state parks that I’ve never seen.

I am waiting until the trees are leafed out and flowers are blooming before visiting state parks that I haven't been to yet.

4. Visit 4 nature centers that I haven’t visited before.

I'm waiting until late-spring and summer to visit the nature centers as well.

5. See 4 National Parks, Forests, and/or Monuments; and/or Reservations.

This goal was set with the trip to Arizona and Colorado this summer in mind.

6. Do 1 entry per month in my nature journal. For some of those entries, identify and journal about 3 new types of wildlife and/or birds.

Each month I've done at least one nature journal entry - so 3/3 months of success!

I did one entry in January, two entries in February, and four entries in March.

7. Go on a camping trip.

We have reservations to go camping in a yurt at Afton State Park in May.

As a back-up, I've also rented a camper cabin during the same time so the girls have their choice of places to sleep. We are looking forward to going camping at this park since it is one that we have not been to yet.

8. Plant on our nature trail 10 trees and shrubs that are native to Minnesota.

It's getting closer to planting season. The ground is still frozen so nothing can be planted yet. However, we can research what type of trees we want to plant.
Found out that we live in the Oak Savannah part of Minnesota. According to the University of Minnesota website:
Much of this area is a rolling plain of loess-mantled ridges over sandstone and carbonate bedrock and till. Soils range from wet to well-drained, formed under prairie or forest conditions. Original vegetation included bur oaks, maples, basswood, and prairie tall grasses.

There are two PDF files that recommend trees for this area. One is for deciduous trees and the other conifers. There are trees recommended for limited use also. These are ones that have some value (e.g., wildlife cover) but are not "general use" trees: limited use deciduous trees and limited use conifers.

We also want to look at adding trees and shrubs that attract certain types of birds we like (e.g., indigo bunting, cardinal) and help support pollinators (e.g., basswood).

9. Attend 4 workshops, classes, or activities at state parks.

I did not attend any programs at state parks during the winter. Am looking forward to seeing the activities that are available this spring and summer.

10. Have 6 picnics when the weather is pleasant and we aren't battling with mosquitoes.

It's still a bit cold to have picnics outdoors. Here's what I am looking forward to (minus the wine):

1 comment:

Gattina said...

This park seems to be beautiful for a walk !