Green Notes August: Funding available to protect and restore natural resources and tips to Recycle Smart

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green notes

Grants available to protect, improve, and restore natural resources

Funding to protect and plant trees available to schools, nonprofits, and affordable housing properties

Planting trees at Prairie Seeds Academy

Hennepin County is offering grants to schools, nonprofit organizations, and affordable housing properties to make positive changes in the tree canopy and engage residents in taking action to protect trees.

These grants aim to improve the tree canopy, educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees, combat threats to trees from invasive insects and disease, and promote the development of a more diverse and resilient tree canopy. Grant funding can be used to plant trees, conduct tree-related education, remove ash trees, complete tree inventories, and hold Arbor Day celebrations.
Applications are due by 3 p.m. on Monday, October 28. Learn more and apply.

For more information and to get help with grant projects, email

Natural resources good steward grants

Monarch garden

Grants are available for projects that implement best management practices to preserve and restore critical habitats, reduce erosion and reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment going into lakes, rivers and streams. Past grants have supported practices such as rain gardens, prairie plantings, shoreline restorations, and drainage improvements.

Government agencies, organizations and private landowners are eligible to apply. Applications will open in September and be due in November. Start planning your project now! Learn more.

Environmental cleanup grants available for development projects

Hennepin County Environmental Response Fund grants assist with the reuse of contaminated sites where the added cost of environment cleanup is a barrier to site improvement or redevelopment. Projects supported by these grants provide a variety of community benefits, including the creation of affordable or moderately priced housing, economic development, green space, and infrastructure improvements.

Applications for the fall 2019 application round are due by 3 p.m. on November 4, 2019. Staff is available to answer questions and offer resources. Contact

New site cleanup and assessment funding website

Hennepin County has a new web page that makes it easier to find the county support available for the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites. Learn more about the county’s assessment grants programs, Environmental Response Fund grants, and revolving loan opportunities at

Electric-powered landscaping equipment grants available soon

Gasoline-powered landscaping equipment, such as string trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, backpack blowers, chain saws, and pole saws, are a significant source of air emissions in urban areas. This impacts the health of equipment operators and the communities they serve. To improve local air quality, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency provides grants to businesses and organizations to fund the replacement of all-season, 2-cycle, gasoline-powered with electric-powered landscaping equipment.

Companies that have made the switch buy less gas, reduce maintenance costs, lessen employee injuries, cut the noise and smell, and improve community health while eliminating air emissions.

Grant funding will be available soon. Sign up to be notified when the grants open.

Environmental education grants awarded

Metro Blooms Autumn Ridge environmental education grantee

Grants were recently awarded to 16 organizations to engage their audiences in learning about the environment and taking action to be environmental stewards. Starting in September, these organizations will engage more than 10,500 adults and youth throughout Hennepin County.

The six environmental action grant recipients will engage adult audiences to save energy, reduce their environmental footprint, improve recycling, prevent waste, use sustainable transportation options, plan green events, and more.

The 10 youth environmental education grant recipients will engage audiences in learning about natural ecosystems, improving recycling, discovering the role of pollinators in our gardens and food systems, exploring traditional and indigenous connections to the environment, and taking action on climate change.

Learn about the grant projects awarded. For more information, contact Patience Caso at or 612-348-9352.

Wetland health volunteer team makes an exciting discovery for water quality


The Muckstars, a Minneapolis-based Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) team, recently made an interesting discovery while conducting a plant survey at Wirth Lake. For the first time in recorded history, a plant named bladderwort was observed in the lake.

Bladderwort is an indicator of high water quality. It is also one of the few carnivorous plant species in Minnesota, with small bladders along its branches that are used to trap and digest microscopic prey.

WHEP volunteers are trained to become citizen scientists that venture into wetlands to identify the various plants and macroinvertebrates that are key indicators of water quality.

For more information, contact Mary Karius at or 612-596-9129.

In the News

Improve your garden with composting

Adding compost to garden

Adding compost to the soil is one of the easiest ways to grow a better garden. Compost adds nutrients for plants, improves drainage in heavier clay soils, and helps with water retention in sandier soils. Composting at home allows you to keep your fruit and vegetable scraps and yard waste on your property – turning them into a valuable soil amendment for your garden. Hennepin County sells compost bin kits at the drop-off facility in Brooklyn Park. Read more about composting in the Star Tribune


Fall tree steward classes

Tree planting volunteers

If you enjoy being outdoors, love trees, and want to help your community, becoming a volunteer tree steward is a perfect way to learn new skills and give back.

Hennepin County, in partnership with the University of Minnesota and host cities, is offering two tree steward classes this fall:

  • Saturday, September 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the City of Champlin Parks & Public Works Building. Sign up now.
  • Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Anthony City Hall. Registration will open October 1.

Classes cover tree biology, tree planting, watering, pruning, and tree health through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on, outdoor field experience. Classes are open to the public and no experience is needed. Classes cost $25.

For more information, contact Shane DeGroy at or 612-543-3697.

Building material donation days

Reused cabinets

Have extra materials from your latest building or remodeling project? Maybe you have leftover tile or hardware you don’t need but can’t return, or you removed old cabinets that are still in good condition.

Residents of Edina, Golden Valley, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park can bring usable building materials to an upcoming donation day: Friday, September 13 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. or Saturday, September 14 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the City of St. Louis Park Municipal Service Center, 7305 Oxford Street in St. Louis Park.

Usable building materials will be collected and donated to two local nonprofits that specialize in the reuse and resale of usable building materials. Better Futures Minnesota and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore will be onsite during the event to vet all materials for quality and potential for resale.

You can also find building material reuse donation opportunities on the Choose to Reuse website.

Project Learning Tree let nature be your teacher training

This fall, Hennepin County Forester, Jen Kullgren, is leading a Project Learning Tree training aimed at K – 8 teachers to learn fun, practical, hands-on lessons that use local trees, forests, and the natural world to teach skills in science, math, language arts, and social studies.

Teachers who attend this workshop will get the Project Learning Tree K-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide, which contains 96 engaging lessons. Lessons can be done in the classroom, schoolyard, or school forest in all seasons.

The training will be held Saturday, November 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Eastman Nature Center in Elm Creek Park Reserve. Cost is $10 for Hennepin County educators and $30 for all others. Teachers will earn 6 CEUs for attending the training, and lunch will be provided. Register by Friday, October 18.

Green Tip: Recycle smart – know what goes in your recycling cart

The best thing you can do to support recycling is to recycle the right stuff.
Recycle accepted items included on our recycling guide, and keep materials that aren’t accepted out.

Putting items in your recycling cart that aren’t accepted can interfere with the recycling process, damage equipment, harm workers, and ultimately result in things not getting recycled. If you aren’t sure an item can be recycled, put it in the trash.

Recycle Smart by keeping the following items out of your recycling cart.

Plastic bags and film

Recycle Smart keep plastic bags out of your recycling cart

These items get tangled in the equipment at recycling sorting facilities and interfere with the recycling process. Bring to a retail drop-off to be recycled

Large plastic items

Plastic lawn furniture, laundry baskets, storage tubs, and plastic toys are difficult to sort at recycling facilities and there aren’t good markets for recycling them.

Random metal items

Pots, pans, pipes, hangers, tools, and other random metal items can damage equipment and harm workers at recycling sorting facilities. All metal can be recycled, just not in your recycling cart at home – bring these items to a county drop-off facility or scrap metal recycler. Find options on the Green Disposal Guide.

Batteries and electronics

Recycle Smart keep batteries and electronics out of your recycling cart

Batteries and electronics can damage equipment and harm workers collecting and sorting your recycling. Batteries are especially dangerous as they can start fires at recycling sorting facilities. Find disposal options on the Green Disposal Guide.

Bags of recyclables

Don’t put your recycling in bags in your recycling cart. Recyclers can’t tell what’s in the bag, so your items might not get recycled. Place recycling loose in your cart.

Paper take-out containers

Paper to-go containers cannot be recycled because they are often lined with plastic or contaminated with food.

Paper cups and plates, and plastic utensils and straws

These items are often contaminated with food, are difficult to sort at recycling facilities, and don’t have good recycling markets. Avoid them by using reusable options.

Recycle Smart no paper plates and cups in your recycling cart

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