Good Neighbor News - April 2020 - Yard Care Tips, Environmental Resources and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


A volunteer holds trash bags filled with garbage collected along the Mississippi River.

Rotary EcoClub members Liz (pictured) and Steve (below) cleaned up 25 pounds of trash on a single, one-mile walk along the Mississippi River.

Good Neighbors of the Month:

Twin Cities Rotary EcoClub

A volunteer picking up trash along the Mississippi River.

In March, the Twin Cities Rotary EcoClub challenged its members to each take one action to support the health of the Mississippi River. They responded with a variety of good deeds, from adopting stormdrains to cleaning up trash along the riverfront to joining a citizen science program the helps the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitor water quality. Although the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted some members' plans, the group accomplished an impressive number of actions and even took time to reflect on their experiences with one another.

The Rotary EcoClub is designed for Twin Cities young professionals who are interested in environmental issues of all types. The group meets twice per month, inviting experts to give presentations and then challenging its members to take action based on what they learn. (A presentation by Friends of the Mississippi River Executive Director Whitney Clark prompted March's river-focused challenge.) The group is open to new members; anyone interested in joining is encouraged to attend a meeting (now being held online due to COVID-19).

Learn more on the Twin Cities Rotary EcoClub website.

Good Neighbor Tips

Ways to Protect Water Quality and Habitat During COVID-19

A child and an adult clean a stormdrain.

From canceled Earth Day clean-up events to disrupted native plants sales, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many of our traditional spring activities. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do for water quality and habitat this spring. Here are three ways you can safely get outside and take action in your community:

Adopt a Stormdrain (and Track Your Impact)

Adopting a stormdrain and keeping it clear of leaves, trash and other pollutants is a great way to help protect our water quality. It's even better if you can keep track of the amount of pollutants you clean up. The Adopt-a-Drain website has everything you need to sign up and show the world how much pollution you're keeping out of the Mississippi River and other waterbodies. (Tip: use a luggage scale to weigh bags of debris you collect from your stormdrain.)

Do Your Own Community Cleanup

If you've been outside at all in the last month, you've surely noticed the large volume of trash that accumulated in parks, natural areas and even your own neighborhood during the course of the winter. Why not grab a garbage bag and some work gloves and clean up a few areas? You'll feel good about seeing your community look cleaner, and you'll help protect our waterways and wildlife at the same time.

Make Your Yard More Earth-Friendly

Spring is the perfect time of year to build a raingarden, plant some native perennials or do any other number of earth-friendly home improvement projects. The Lawns to Legumes program is currently offering grants to Minnesotans willing to install pollinator habitat on their properties, and Blue Thumb is offering a series of workshops (see "Upcoming Events" below) to help people get their projects started.

And while many Mother's Day plant sales are cancelled this year, you can still buy native plants directly from growers. (You can find a list at the end of our Earth Day blog post.)

Community cleanup materials sitting on a table.

New Resources Available on MWMO Website

The MWMO recently updated its website with a variety of new tools and resources on everything from new educational programming to climate change.

Take Action — Links and resources to help you take action to protect water quality and habitat in your own community, including Adopt-A-Drain, MWMO-assisted community cleanups, Master Water Stewards and volunteer opportunities.

Preventing Water Pollution — Learn all about stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and how they protect our waterbodies. Includes information on everyday actions, seasonal yard care tips, raingardens, permeable pavers and more.

Story Map and Path to the River Tool — Use our new interactive tools to trace stormwater's path from the land to the Mississippi River and explore the MWMO's work protecting water quality and habitat in our watershed.

Watershed and Stormwater Basics — Our updated "Stormwater 101" section includes information on urban water pollutants and the stormwater impacts of climate change.

Educational Programs — Updated educational program offerings from the MWMO. Note: program availability is being temporarily impacted by COVID-19.

From the MWMO Blog

In case you missed it:

Upcoming Events

Monarch butterfly on an aster flower

Online Lawns to Legumes Workshops

Blue Thumb is partnering with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to offer a series of online workshops on resilient yards, pollinator habitat and turf alternatives. The workshops are being offered in coordination with BWSR's Lawns to Legumes grant program, which offers financial support for property owners who are willing to transform a portion of their yards into native pollinator habitat.

See an updated schedule of workshops at