Green Visions

A Northland Morning feature focusing on local environmental issues, heard Wednesdays at 8:20 a.m.  Green Visions is brought to you by Duluth Grill and Heritage Window and Door.

Hopes to put a factory farm (also called Concentrated Animal Feed Operations or CAFOs) in Bayfield County are being met with - among other protests - events like a recent "Stink-in" in Ashland.  What's the problem with 20-25 thousand hogs all in one place?  We talk with activist Frank Koehn about the environmental impact on the region, including the Lake Superior watershed.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S.

Healthy Duluth/ Henry French

Have you always wanted a trail in Duluth named after you?  If so, this is not your opportunity.  The city Parks and Rec Department is looking for something a little catchier than "the Lowell to Lakewalk trail" and they're asking for your ideas ... but there are a few ground rules.

Take a look at the news release for the Minnesota Pollution Control's upcoming public meeting: "Magnetation draft permit public meeting scheduled" and you're  lost almost as soon as you start reading.  But it turns out, these public meetings, held frequently around the state by the MPCA and other state agencies for a variety of proposals, projects and drafted documentation, are not as impenetrable as they might seem.  Not only can attendees learn a lot, they can have valuable feedback.

Lake Superior is truly the greatest of the Great Lakes, especially where water quality is concerned.  And some Park Point beaches have even earned the title "Superstar Beach" for their cleanliness.

But sometimes, as Cindy Hakala from the Minnesota Department of Health advises, the bacteria count in the water at a beach goes up .... and that's partly because its cause rolls down hill.

You can find information on bacteria advisories, and a host of other useful information about Park Point beaches here.

David Everett started out as an environmentalist.  Then he became an artist.  Then he started creating sea monsters, "trash fish" out of things he picked up on the beach.  And now, he's not only doing an iron pour demonstration at the Park Point Art Fair this weekend, he's sharing his love of nature and of art with his special education students at the Wrenshall School.

Seven tons of pollutants are no longer in Minnesota's atmosphere.

Put another way, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) partnership with small businesses has taken the equivalent of 13-thousand cans of spray paint out of the air.

And they've even helped pay for the retooling, distributing about $500,000 dollars in grants from the 2014 Minnesota legislature.

Eric David has the details.

 Kelly Wallin, head mechanic for the Bike Cave in Duluth, talks about how the Bike Cave creates access to bicycles for everyone.  Located at 1712 Jefferson Street, it is run completely by volunteers and functions on a skill-trade system. Those who wish to build a bicycle can trade parts, knowledge, volunteer hours or even food for the community as payment for a bicycle. 

Pheasant_JasonBowler
Jason Bowler // Flickr

It turns out that the same kinds of habitat that benefits endangered pollinators like monarchs and bees are also good for pheasants.  And even though we're a little north and east of the prairie grassland that all three prefer, David Lood, youth events coordinator for the St. Louis/Carlton County Pheasants Forever chapter says the habitat restoration projects kids are working on educates them about the natural world and gets them outside.

For the first time since 1978, sometime this summer there won't be steam coming out of the iconic Duluth steam plant smokestack in Canal Park. The plant's been operating continuously for the last 37 years, but the shut down for a few weeks will be part of its transition to Duluth Energy Systems.

Northlanders can join the international March on Monsanto this Saturday.  The multinational agrochemical corporation is under fire for, among other things,  genetically modified seeds and the herbicide Roundup, found by the World Health Organization to be a "probably carcinogen."

Abby Splittstoesser is the event organizer here in Duluth.  And while she agrees the protests won't shutter Monsanto, she says there is a surprising amount of change people can effect right here in the Northland.

ThoseGuys119/Flickr

The liquid propane-powered buses of the Proctor School District are really something.

Ask School Superintendent John Engelking.

They're more fuel-efficient and get better gas mileage (.35 per mile compared with .65-$1.25 for diesel), they're cheaper to operate (7 qts. of oil/$5 filter compared to 30 qts. of oil and a $35 filter for diesel) and they've got an unexpected benefit that may have parents running to get their gas-powered vehicles converted.

Dave Huth/Flickr

Citizen-scientists,  frog enthusiasts and lovers of moonlit walks can join Ryan Hueffmeier of the NRRI for the frog survey work now underway at Hartley Park.  It's part of a national frog survey that involves listening and identifying frog calls - much like the annual bird counts Laura Erickson and Larry Weber take part in.  But you don't have to be a naturalist to join in; when it comes to frog calls, Hueffmeier says, there's an app for that.

Thorsburg Photography

National - and international - attention made the Apostle Island National Lakeshore and its ice caves the most visited national park in the country for a time in 2014.

But, caught by surprise, Park Service resources were stretched to the breaking point and beyond.  Bob Krumenaker, the National Park Superintendent for the park says they needed  a plan.

There's a move afoot to do something kind of unusual in northeastern Minnesota: create a state game refuge on Butterball Lake in east-central St. Louis County.  The idea is to create a resting and feeding place for migratory waterfowl in the fall.  But it would only be closed to hunting and trapping between September 1 and November 25 every year.  Melissa Thompson is a Shallow Lakes Specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and she tells us more. 

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