Environment & Outdoors

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.

Friends of the Bird Sanctuary (FOTBS) of the Douglas County Wildlife Area in Gordon, Wisconsin invites members and the community to Barrens Fest 2017, a celebration of the globally significant landscape of Northwest Wisconsin.  The event is this afternoon (Wednesday July 19) from 3 pm to 6:30 pm at the Clubhouse of the Douglas County Wildlife Area, located between Solon Springs and Gordon, Wisconsin. The festival is free and open to the public. A picnic supper will be hosted by FOTBS at 6:00 p.m.

Courtney Celley/USFWS

Duluth set an all-time record for heat back on July 13th, 1936 (106 degrees - down by the lake, mind you)  but this year (yesterday) we barely crept to 57 degrees.

Berries and flowers and mushrooms, oh my - and let us not forget milkweed.

©Tom Kasper

If you've been tiptoeing through your tulips lately, you've possibly noticed a significant insect problem.

After you've controlled your primal urge to blast the garden with chemicals, you may be looking for some organic solutions, but as Tom Kasper explains in this edition of Tips for Hardy Gardeners, they're not for the faint hearted.

Jim Mullhaupt/Flickr

Cat Island, part of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore, is a great place for people to vacation.

Trouble is, it's a lousy place for bears to make a living.

This time of year,  mother bears start kicking out their adult offpsring.  And like slacker children everywhere, young bears are looking for a maximum reward for minimal effort.

In two words: camp food.

You can find more information about the status of the Cat Island Campground here

©John Krumm. Used with permission.

Temps like we've had the past few days remind us Duluth almost never gets hot.

But Larry Weber reminds us that 81 years ago, Duluth had a seven-day stretch of temperatures in the 90s or hotter, and three times the mercury hit 100 or above.

And if that's not bad enough, back in 1936, they were taking temperatures down by the lake.  Seriously.

Cafe Scientifique Twin Ports

Here's how (very loosely) the scientific method works:

  • Ask a question about something you observe.
  • Do some background research.
  • Develop an educated guess about why or how things happen.
  • Test your guess (hypotheses) through experimentation.
  • Analyze your data and draw a conclusion.
  • Then either communicate your results or back up and draw a new hypotheses with the new information.

At any rate ... it's more fun in a group - especially when it comes to debating the whys and wherefores and the conclusions. 

©Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog

Even though the second half of the month was cooler than the first half, we still wound up with a slightly-warmer-than-normal June.

Add an inch more precipitation than usual (especially when places to the west of us are suffering through a drought), a few mushrooms and a bunch of butterflies and Larry Weber is a happy man!

David/Flickr

Master gardener Tom Kasper on what our rainy day/sunny day/ rainy day pattern might be good for.

©The Grounds Keepers

You're hiking along, enjoying the day when ... trash.

Maybe some pop cans or fast food wrappers ... maybe a discarded television.

Enter Two Harbors-based Granite Gear, who chose 15 people from over 200 applicants to be Grounds Keepers.

And so far, they've gotten over a quarter-ton of litter off the trains, from the Appalachian Trail to the Pacific  Crest Trail to the Superior Hiking Trail, right here in our own neighborhood.

Marilylle Soveran/Flickr

They brighten the roadsides at this time of year, but a lot of the flowers we're seeing along the highways and byways these days are actually non-native species.

© Lisa Johnson

Ever since the '90s, folks have been gathering the third week in July to recognize Lake Superior and the environmental concerns surrounding it ... and to celebrate the successes.

This year's Lake Superior Day (Days?)  is no different, with educational sessions at the Maritime Visitors Center Friday and Saturday and a whole passel of kid-friendly activities on Sunday.

Sean Gillies/Flickr

Efforts to develop disease-tolerant elm trees have been in high gear ever since the majestic trees started being lost to Dutch elm disease in the '30s.

Now USDA Forest Service scientists are inoculating more than 1200 research American elms with Dutch elm disease, and if the trees can fight it off, you might even be able to plant elms in your yard again.

Pages