Seed Collection at Weaver Dunes

September 21, 2009

The Nature Conservancy has acquired a new tract to the south of their existing 592 acre preserve at Weaver Dunes. The new tract is 175 acres, and includes over 4000 feet of shoreline on Weaver Bottoms.  Once the 100 acres of crop field are restored to prairie, it will provide direct access for Weaver Bottoms turtles to sand prairie for turtle nesting.

That restoration effort will use only locally collected seed.  This is where we could use your help.  Only a few species of the needed seed can be mechanically collected.  We rely on hand collection for most species.  We have scheduled several seed collection sessions, where we provide the knowledge and equipment needed to do this work.  What we are looking for are volunteers who can spend a few hours walking the sand prairie with other folks, picking seed observing the plants and animals, and chatting with the other folks.  It is light work.  But we really could use more hands.

Seed collection sessions are scheduled from 10am to 1:30pm on:

  • Saturday, September 19
  • Sunday, October 4
  • Saturday, October 24

Meet at the maintenance building area, down the driveway from the sign on Wabasha Co. 84. For more information on the work days, contact me.

I am also willing to drive over and lead groups to collect seed, if the number of person-hours would be significant.  I feel this could be an opportunity for students to see, feel, smell, and really experience a large native prairie.  And Weaver Dunes has excellent fall color.

In a few years, we hope this ‘ghost population’ of turtles in Weaver Bottoms will once again start reproducing. You can help.  Let me know if you can help, or if you know of any leads on groups that could help with seed collection.

Joel Dunnette
507-365-8091 (h)
507-269-7064 (cell)


Drawing Plants in Pen & Ink

September 21, 2009

Grab this opportunity to improve and polish your pen & ink technique with natural science illustrator Vera Ming Wong! Vera will be teaching “Plants in Pen & Ink” at Como Zoo & Conservatory this fall, 29 Sep – 17 Nov 2009 (8 weeks). Class meets Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:00 pm.

Pen and ink has long been a favored medium for scientific illustration because of its clarity and ease of reproduction. For the field naturalist, pen and ink is easy to carry and creates an smudge-resistant image. Explore both traditional and modern forms of pen and ink. Finesse your line, stipple, brush and scratchboard techniques to describe plant forms clearly, sensitively and accurately.

Amerorchis rotundifolia

Amerorchis rotundifolia

Prerequisite: Botanical Drawing I or equivalent experience (ask me about a prerequisite waiver)
Cost: $175 for 8 wks

To register, or for a full listing of the many drawing and painting classes offered, go to
Dowload a Class Announcement (PDF)

Vera Ming Wong has illustrated numerous books and magazine articles, working in pen & ink, brush & ink, watercolor and cut-paper. As a botanical illustrator and illustrator of animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate, Vera particularly enjoys drawing from life. Her drawings of trees (from life) appear in Welby Smith’s most recent book “Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota”. Vera has taught botanical and zoological drawing at Como Zoo and Conservatory for many years, and has gained recognition among naturalists and teachers for her workshops on using drawing as a medium for learning biology and other natural sciences, and math. She is founder and coordinator of Project Art for Nature

Nature Conservancy to use grass for energy

June 11, 2009

Associated Press
Last update: June 11, 2009 – 7:04 AM

MANKATO, Minn. – A conservation group is trying to determine whether prairie grass in southern Minnesota could be used to produce electricity.

The Nature Conservancy will take grass from about 300 acres of native or restored prairies in Nicollet, Le Sueur, Sibley and Rice counties to a new biomass plant in Shakopee and figure out the cost of producing energy from the land.

Besides finding a new way to produce energy, a spokesman for the group says the project is a way to protect tallgrass prairies — a nearly extinct ecosystem. Christopher Anderson says Minnesota is down to less than 1 percent of the prairie land it once had.

The University of Minnesota and local soil and water districts are also helping with the project.

MnNPS Member featured on U of M homepage

January 7, 2009

ur_multimedia_088842Victoria Ranua, a MnNPS member and Environmental Assessment Specialist at Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is currently profiled on the homepage of the University of Minnesota.  Read about the efforts she is making in Dakota County to inventory and restore native plant communities.

Through the magic of google, I also found this article about Victoria on the Newsweek website.

Nice job, Victoria!

Upcoming field trip to Burnsville

November 12, 2008


kellehertrip1Saturday November 15th from Noon to 3PM we will be hiking through Kelleher Park which abuts Murphy-Hanrehan Regional Park in SW Burnsville to learn about this natural area of the twin cities and to help flag woody vegetation to be saved during the restoration project.  This Oak savanna remnant will be cleared of common buckthorn this winter and the City of Burnsville needs help in the management of this savanna.  MNNPS members Ken Arndt (Forest Ecologist, Critical Connections Eco Services) and Angela Hanson (City of Burnsville Natural Resources Technician) will be leading this trip/event.

Email Ken Anrdt ( if you have any questions.  This event is posted on our website at

Fall Colors

October 17, 2008

The woods were ablaze last weekend at Banning State Park and Mille Lacs Kathio State Park.  I highly recommend a trip up to the top of the fire tower at Mille Lacs Kathio to see the colors, if you’re not too afraid of heights.  It was spectacular!

A walk in the woods

October 6, 2008

When I walked through the maple-basswood forests on the river bluffs in Eden Prairie on Saturday, most of the maples and oaks had were still stobornly colored in various shades of green.  The glowing yellow leaves of a group of bitternut hickory (Caraya cordiformis) stood out brightly in the forest.  The conspicuous “sulphur-yellow” bud is the distinguishing characteristic that helped me identify the species.