Environment & Outdoors

Jared Smith [via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber observes that so many things are happening in nature this week, from the mushrooms down low to the ground all the way up to the Perseids and the upcoming solar eclipse.  The rainfall totals for August (and the summer) are above normal. The hawks and ospreys will soon be on the move over Duluth, many insects are maturing, and the blackberries are ripening too.

Everyone is talking about the solar eclipse, occurring Monday across the north American continent.  In the Duluth area, it will not be total eclipse, a mere 80% coverage of the moon over the sun, but that is still a spectacular event to see.

Amy/Flickr

I wish I had the means

to give all the north back to itself, to let the pines

rise in the hayfield and the lilacs go wild.

But then where would we live?

                        from Hartley Field by Connie Wanek

Few things, perhaps, go so well with a walk in the woods as poetry.

Eclipse 2017/NASA

Larry Weber says the difference between viewing a total eclipse and a partial eclipse is - literally - the difference between night and day.

But if a trip to the totality isn't in your plans, there are lots of ways to enjoy the eclipse, stay safe and even a helpful list of places who might be able to set you up with good eclipse-viewing optics.

Wildwoods

Wildwoods Rehabilitation raised some eyebrows last month after posting a video of a pigeon seizing from Avitrol poisoning.

The bird recovered with treatment and was released a few days later, but Tara Smith of Wildwoods says "With so many humane ways to evict unwanted wildlife there really is no excuse" to use poisons like Avitrol.

It's green and destroys everything it touches.

(Not permanently, but it does do damage)

It's not wildfire; it's aphids.

Gardeners might be tempted toward a Cersei-type solution, but they'd be better off taking a more ... Targaryen approach: only with a garden hose instead of a dragon.

Never fear, though.  Tom Kasper says ... winter is coming.

Goddard Science Visualization Studio, NASA

First, we've got a full moon August 7.  Then the Perseid meteor shower August 11-13.

Then the "eclipse of the century" on August 21, 2017.

No wonder Larry Weber thinks August is awesome!

When the conversation turns to climate change, there's not much good or hopeful news.

And most people find the idea of global warming too big, too complicated, too wide-reaching - so  instead of engaging, they just shut down.

Jodi Slick, founder and CEO of Ecolibrium3 here in Duluth, says the local level is where we have our best opportunities to address climate change.

Great Lakes Now

When US and Canadian governments and industry, academic and nongovernmental stakeholders gathered earlier this summer for the Great Lakes Crude Move Oil Transportation Symposium, they didn't shy away from any of the hard questions.

nrg_crisis/Flickr

Can you make car tires from trees and grass?

University of Minnesota researchers can.  They've discovered a new way to make isoprene (a key molecule in car tires) which means the tires made from biomass would be identical to the tires we're using now - the ones made primarily from fossil fuels.

©Bryan French. Used with permission.

Larry Weber's already looking forward to what he calls "Awesome August," but he's not done enjoying the cricket-sized little spring peepers, wood frogs and American toads yet, either.

And milkweed and fireweed, he says, "own July."

Duluth For Clean Water

The controversy over the proposed Polymet mine is heated, to say the least.  It's often framed (among other things) as jobs v. the environment or the Iron Range v. the Twin Cities.

But in the middle - geographically and, to an extent, philosophically - is Duluth and Duluth for Clean Water. 

Stanislav Kozlovskiy

Dead-heading your flowers: no Volkswagen van needed.

liz west [Via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber talks about his many finds this week, including Indian pipe (thriving in shady woods), basswood trees that are in bloom, mushrooms, and Queen Anne's Lace, blooming in northwestern Wisconsin.  Many songbirds are quieting down now that the fledglings are leaving the nest, although goldfinches are only now starting to nest.  Young frogs are maturing, fawns and bear cubs are out exploring with their mothers, and masses of mayflies are emerging to briefly breed before they die.

There are TWO opportunities this weekend to participate in a detailed look at the natural world in the Northland.  It is BioBlitz weekend at the Sax-Zim Bog and at Hawk Ridge.   The two events will allow the avid naturalist and outdoor enthusiast to explore familiar sites with greater detail.

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