Thursday, July 28, 2016

July, you have been a difficult month

July, you have been a difficult month.  You have crapped up some of my favorite paths.  This one goes down to Middle Beach and I like to go there often. I can get under that tree branch, but I don't look or feel that graceful crawling under that mess.

 Some of the shoreline that I would normally cleanup is underwater.

Some new debris has drifted in.  This area probably won't be accessible anytime soon.

You've made a mess for Park and Rec.  With all the rain, it looks like a jungle.

 These steps are going nowhere right now.

On a hike in the gorge area it was the same thing. Some paths are underwater.

This might be Yellow Loosestrife.  If I could just get closer to identify it.

Rain, humidity and heat is what we've had for most of July. I was out one evening and saw three separate islands of trash and tree branches floating downstream. They were moving at a normal walking pace so I followed.  I didn't have my camera.  Why didn't I take my camera!! The first island flew off the falls in a spectacular fashion.  The second rammed into the yellow barge bumpers, cracking the wood and breaking it up until it too crashed mostly off the falls.  The third island of trash seemed to drift into the lock and just stall there. Last night, the weather seemed cooler after another afternoon rain.  Dare I say almost chilly. So this morning I walked down to the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam for a morning tour.  I really wanted to ask them some questions and see what happened to all that trash and tree debris.

The federal government closed the lock and dam to barge traffic last year to prevent the spread of invasive carp from getting into the lakes above the falls and harming our preferred fish like walleye and bass.  The National Park Service has now taken over the visitor center at the lock and dam and gives tours 3 times a day.  You can get the whole scoop on how the water power of the falls helped create the flour milling industry in Minneapolis.  Today Minneapolis has plans to turn this area into a park that sounds too awesome to be true, but I will have to stick around downtown for 7 years to see it be completed.

The park ranger reminded us that don't even think about rafting over those falls.

Up top on the lock some trash has certainly accumulated.

The Army Corp of Engineers comes in once a week to flush out the trash and send it downstream.  This stuff will probably end up in Hastings.  Couldn't someone scoop it out at this point instead?

A lot of tree debris that the rain brought downstream is now hung up on the concrete apron that surrounds the falls.  I wonder if workers will attempt to remove some of that debris.  In any case the Cormorants that were hanging out there seemed to be enjoying it.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

River Rats and Bumble Bees

It's almost 2 miles from the Hennepin Bridge in downtown Minneapolis to the Broadway Bridge. I've been walking that route a few times each week in the last month.  The Twin Cities River Rats waterski group put out their rafts a few weeks ago. They give shows up there on Thursday nights during the summer months.  Maybe I'll go up there next week to watch it.

So I was up there a few weeks ago and it looked pretty bad.  My goal was to walk this stretch and see what I could accomplish before the 4th of July weekend.

Of course first I usually have to check on the beach that is closest to home.  This was blooming by the water.  Have not been able to identify it on the Minnesota wildflowers website.

Yesterday there was a lot of broken glass all over the concrete sitting area across from the Federal Reserve Bank building.  More than I had ever seen before.  Party the night before I guess.  A couple of folks were organizing a kayak tour and had all their boats laid out waiting for the people to arrive.  That's a nasty way for things to look when your business is getting people out on the river.

On another day, just north of Bassett Creek I checked in on Fisherman's Point and collected a bag of stuff.  There was a pair of sunglasses (my second pair in a week) plus a full bottle of spray paint and some batteries.  I think I have found about 8 pairs of glasses in the past year.

At the top of the stairs going down to Fisherman's Point was this little wildflower.  I think this is a Creeping Bellflower and unfortunately it is considered to be an invasive species and hard to get rid of once it is established.

This is a baby diaper I found along the shore.  It takes 450 years for that to decompose in a land fill. I know that because I won a prize for knowing the answer to that at a training at Snelling State Park.  Who doesn't love prizes!

I found three pieces of Styrofoam laying in this patch of Crown Vetch.  I took it but later after looking at this photo realized that someone was probably using this as a place to sleep.  Sorry. Crown Vetch is a plant that is everywhere.  Take a look at the roadways next time you are out driving around the Twin Cities. It is an invasive species that spreads and turns everything into a monoculture. There is a group that is working with the park service to remove this stuff from Mill Ruins Park. They meet every other Saturday in the morning.

Crown Vetch has not taken over everything on "The Stretch" and there are plenty of other wildflowers in bloom.  These are Grey Headed Coneflowers.

These are some interesting little guys: Purple Prairie Clover.

There were bees all over these plants, Wild Bergamot or Bee Balm.

I saw more than one variety of bee on my walk yesterday.  The giant Bumble Bees were loving these thistles.  I have been following a local nonprofit group on Facebook called Neighbors for a Pesticide Free Minneapolis.  They have some very informative articles on getting our city free from pesticides, pollinator health, etc.

The kayak group finally caught up with me up river.

I rolled that tire up to one of the Park and Rec trash cans.  Hello little dolly, goodbye dolly.

Located one ski from last week's water ski show!  I left it there in the weeds for them to find.  Hint: it's just south of the little blue stairs.

Last bag of the day.  Time to walk home.  Taking that little blue hand home with me.