Environment & Outdoors

©MN Department of Natural Resources

The age-old vacation question: to connect or not to connect?

Back in the day, with landline phones and rabbit-ear TV antennas, it was easy to disconnect from the outside world when you headed "up north."

But Minnesota's newest state park, Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park, has all-electric campsites - and wifi.

©Sparky Stensaas. Used with permission.

Photo-naturalist Sparky Stensaas joins us as guest host of Backyard Almanac this morning, and brings us a story you probably won't hear over the breakfast table.

And there's a good reason for that.

It's Jaegerfest at Wisconsin Point this weekend!  Find out more about all the events here!

MN DNR

It's an unusual fall in Minnesota.

Tettegouche State Park interpretive naturalist Kurt Mead says things are still pretty green along the North Shore, but they're around 60% peak a little further inland, and in southern Minnesota (which usually lags behind the Northland) the colors are already popping. 

For more information on the fall colors around the state, check out the Fall Color Finder on the DNR's website.

lundy | hive/Flickr

Want to plant a tree?  Tom Kasper says the first thing is to look up.  Power or phone lines in the way?*  Relocate your tree.

© Dorian [via Flickr]

Larry Weber, educator, author and naturalist, talks about his observations in nature this week, including light from the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, and from glowworms who are feeding before they bed down for winter.  Despite the warm temps of late the fall foliage is showing some brilliant yellows and reds.  Larry has seen woolly bear caterpillars and an eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly.  The fog yesterday also provided a brilliant showing of spider webs. 

© Superior National Forest [via Flickr]

Naturalist Larry Weber observes the terrific autumnal conditions this morning, including aerial spider webs in the trees, bird migrations (robins, Canada geese, crows, flickers, warblers, et al.), young coyotes, newly-independent fawns, and butterflies.  Rainfall totals are the 13th highest on record (dating back to 18701), five inches above normal.  Wasps and hornets are gathering on goldenrod as they start to seek winter homes.  Late blooms include sunflowers, aster. Blackberries are still on hand, and the first phase of fall leaves are beginning to appear.

Our Sustainability Week series continues on Northland Morning as we speak with Bret Pence, the Arrowhead Network Regional Coordinator for Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.  Solar energy and the use of "smart" storage batteries home is a reality that not only can serve as a backup for outages but also can provide an ongoing renewable power source that integrates with the existing power grid to reduce dependency on power from fossil fuel sources.  

Leeann Cafferata [via Flickr]

As part of our Sustainability Week series on Northland Morning, we speak with Jodi Slick, the founder and CEO of Ecolibrium3, about what it means to have a sustainable community, by improving social connectivity and creating local zoning plans that promote sustaining our regional ecosystem. 

© Minnesota Power

Our guest today is Paul Helstrom, the Renewable Program Lead at MN Power, whose job is to create a more user friendly renewable energy program for MN Power and our community.  He joins us to share more about their community solar program.

Scot Nelson [via Flickr]

Tom Kasper talks about how the abundance of rain and resulting humidity in recent months is leading to a rise in powdery mildew, a fungal growth that affects many plants.  Gardeners are advised to look out for it, and possibly remove affected leaves to increase airflow around their plants help stave off its spread.

As part of our Sustainability Week series on Northland Morning, we speak with Tristen Eberling from Ecolibrium3 about the Giving Comfort at Home program.  Many of our neighbors in Duluth are living in energy poverty.  Deciding whether to “heat or eat” happens too often with our long winters and old housing stock.

As part of our Sustainability Week series on Northland Morning, we speak with Randy Hanson, PhD, the Co-Director of the Program in Environment and Sustainability at UMD about goings on at the UMD Land Lab, including their recently built "high tunnel" greenhouse, ongoing research in hydroponics, and the upcoming Farm Fest 2017 on September 17 at the UMD Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) Farm.

Between the fall wildflowers, the 45 different kinds of goldenrod that grow in Minnesota and the blackberries, suffice it to say that when he's out driving, Larry Weber's attention is everywhere BUT the road!

©Studio One Photography

If you have any doubts about Talia Martens' ability to race the 150 mile 2018 Jr. Iditarod, just look at her trainer/mentors: John Beargrease Sled Dog champion Jamie Nelson and Iditarod veteran Ryan Redington.

If you have any doubts about Talia Martens' tenacity to reach her goal - well, this is a girl who trains huskies in agility.

River with islands in the middle and a town on the far side
Wisconsin Coastal Management Program

There's something called the Lake Superior Estuarium opening on Barker's Island. What's an estuarium, you ask? Deanna Erickson, Education Coordinator of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, joined Lisa Johnson to answer that question and tell us more. 

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