MWMO Newsletter - April 2021 - Earth Day, Spring Ephemerals, Grant Opportunities, Adopt-A-Drain and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


Smiling children picking up trash in a park.

Three Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day. There’s no shortage of ways to show your appreciation for nature and be a good steward of the environment, but some of the most gratifying ones are free, easy, and happening close to home.

Help Track Plastic Pollution in the Mississippi River

A plastic bottle floating in the Mississippi River.

A new community science effort is seeking volunteers to help track plastic pollution along the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative is designed to collect data on plastic pollution at key locations.    

Participants use a free mobile app called Marine Debris Tracker to report their findings at designated sampling sites. A field guide explains how to use the app, and a related knowledge hub includes links to webinars and other training materials.

Help Clean Up a Local Park

Child and woman picking up trash.

A winter’s worth of trash has likely accumulated in a park or natural area near you. Why not grab a couple of trash bags and a pair of work gloves, head outside and stage a do-it-yourself cleanup?

Minneapolis is encouraging DIY cleanups this year in lieu of its typical Earth Day cleanup events, which are cancelled due to COVID-19. (Note: Some Minneapolis neighborhoods are still holding their own separate cleanup events.)

Organized cleanup events are happening in other cities, including Columbia Heights, St. Anthony Village and St. Paul. Check your city’s website or Friends of the Mississippi River’s event list for volunteer opportunities near you.

Just Get Outside and Enjoy Nature

Beaver swimming.

The simplest way to celebrate Earth Day is to simply get out and spend some time in nature. The early spring affords visitors some rare opportunities to see migrating birds and ephemeral plants (see article below) in places like the Mississippi River Gorge.

Apps like iNaturalist can help guide you to some of the best locations for spotting plants and wildlife. But truthfully, spending time in just about any local park or natural area this time of year will provide a variety of mental and physical health benefits.

On a related note, the City of Fridley is hosting a social distancing-friendly Earth Day Eco-Dash interactive scavenger hunt on April 24–25, encouraging residents to get out and have fun while exploring new places. (Registration is required.)

Spring Awakening in the Mississippi River Gorge: Spotting Native and Invasive Plants

Bloodroot in the Mississippi River Gorge.

Spring ephemerals have short life cycles, quickly blooming and producing seed before dying back and falling into dormancy.

The Mississippi River Gorge is one of the best places to find spring ephemerals within the MWMO’s watershed. In our latest blog post, we highlight some of the unique plants emerging right now in the gorge — both native and invasive.


Upcoming Grant Application Deadlines

Capital Project Grants — April 23

2020 Annual Report Now Available

The MWMO's 2020 Annual Activity and Financial Report (PDF) is available online.

Featured Project

Northeast Adopt-A-Drain Challenge

Adult and child cleaning a stormdrain.

Neighborhoods in Northeast Minneapolis are engaged in a fierce-but-friendly competition to see who can keep the most pollution out of the Mississippi River by cleaning up stormdrains.

The Northeast Adopt-a-Drain Challenge is the brainchild of Minnesota Water Steward Michelle Spangler and the Audubon Neighborhood Association. The idea is to have a friendly competition to see how many stormdrains neighbors can cleanup by joining the Adopt-a-Drain program.

The results speak for themselves. So far, 159 Northeast neighbors adopted 260 new stormdrains across 13 different neighborhoods. Collectively, they have kept 2,750 pounds of debris out of the river, as documented on their new website.

The competition is spreading. Columbia Heights and Fridley residents have now joined in a similar effort, vying with Blaine and Andover residents in their own Adopt-a-Drain challenge. You can join in too!