Good Neighbor News - February 2020 - Yard Care Tips, Grant Opportunities, and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


Matt Barthelemy and the salt he collected from a street in South Minneapolis.

Matt Barthelemy (left) swept up salt up salt from a Minneapolis sidewalk and used it to create a contest on Facebook, with the goal of educating people about the harm that deicing salt does to waterbodies.

Good Neighbor of the Month:

Community Activist Matt Barthelemy

In December, Minneapolis resident and activist Matt Barthelemy came across an excessive amount of salt sitting on a 30-foot stretch of bare sidewalk in South Minneapolis. With rain in the forecast, he realized all that excess salt was bound for the Mississippi River. He returned to the site and swept up the extra salt before the rain could wash it into a nearby stormdrain.

Astonished by the amount of salt he was able to pick up, Barthelemy decided to help spread the word about over-salting. He measured the amount of salt he had collected, took a photo of it and shared that with his nearly 3,500 Facebook friends, explaining that 1 teaspoon of salt can permanently contaminate 5 gallons of water. Next, he offered prizes — gift cards donated by supportive local business owners — to the two people who could most closely guess the amount of water that would have been polluted by the salt in the picture. (The answer: 4,640 gallons!)

We thank Matt for his selflessness in helping protect the watershed, and his creativity in raising awareness of over-salting.

Good Neighbor Tips

Sand, Chicken Grit and Boots: Salt Alternatives, Explained

A pile of sand (left) and a pile of chicken grit (right).

In addition to causing pollution in waterbodies, salt and deicing chemicals are often ineffective in low temperatures. When it's too cold to melt the ice, use these alternatives to help add traction and avoid slips and falls on icy pavement this winter.


Traditionally an alternative to salt, sand doesn't melt the ice but rather adds traction to help prevent slipping on icy pavement. It can be found at most hardware stores and home centers, and is even available for free* via the City of Minneapolis. The best part: After the ice melts, you can sweep up the sand and reuse it. (And please do so! Sand is also a pollutant if carried into stormdrains.)

Chicken Grit

Chicken grit, so named for its use as a digestion aid for poultry, is an increasingly popular alternative to sand. It consists of a hard, sharp, crushed stone that many users say provides better traction than sand, and is also easier to sweep up and reuse. It can be found at many hardware stores (sometimes marketed as "traction grit"), and can also be purchased online.

Winter Boots

Although it may seem obvious to some, donning the proper footwear in winter will help protect you from icy conditions no matter where you are. We recommend insulated boots with thick treads and low, wide heels to give you a good grip on the ground. You can also buy traction cleats that strap onto your regular shoes.

*The City of Minneapolis mixes up to 25 percent salt in its free sand to help keep it from freezing. When possible, we recommend using pure sand instead.

Apply by Feb. 28 for a Lawns to Legumes Grant

A Monarch butterfly on a flower.

Minnesota residents can apply for assistance to create pollinator habitat in their yards through Lawns to Legumes, a new Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) program.

Lawns to Legumes offers free workshops, planting guides, and opportunities to apply for reimbursement of gardening costs associated with establishing residential pollinator habitat. Applications for reimbursement will be accepted through Feb. 28

Learn More on the BWSR Website

Help Us Improve the MWMO Website

We plan on making some changes to the MWMO website in the near future, and we want to make sure our visitors can easily find what they're looking for. You can help us by participating in a simple online usability exercise. It should only take a few minutes, and there are no right or wrong answers.

Click Here to Participate

Upcoming Events

Smart Salting Training Workshops

Various Dates

Looking to get certified in smart salting best practices — or know a contractor or property manager who could benefit from training? Check out the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's smart salting training calendar, featuring training opportunities at the MWMO and across the Twin Cities metro area for both property managers and snow removal professionals.

Upcoming MWMO Training Dates:

  • Smart Salting Level 2 — April 7, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Smart Salting Level 1 (Property Managers) — April 22, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Smart Salting Level 1 (Parking Lots and Sidewalks) — Sept. 15, 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.