What's new on the Estuary?

Dredging operations in Radio Tower Bay

We are pleased to report that dredging operations are underway again after a winter break. Approximately 60% of the 115,000 tons of wood waste has been removed already, and we expect to be done in a few weeks.

You may recall that Radio Tower Bay was the site of several sawmill operations at the turn of the last century. At that time, it was common practice to allow the wood waste from turning raw logs into finished lumber to fall directly into the water.

Some areas were eight feet deep in debris.Incredibly, core samples drawn in the area found that the wood waste is up to eight feet deep, and in some places the sawdust was actually dry because of the velocity of the waste falling into the water.

You may have a few questions in mind:

Why didn't it simply deteriorate over time? Because the water is relatively cold and sterile - it actually acts as a pretty decent preservative.

Other than being unsightly, why is the wood waste a problem? Because this ought to be a great stopover spot for fall migration, providing a good sheltered resting spot for ducks and other migrators to fatten up before their long haul south. Turtles, also appreciate having a muddy spot to burrow in for the winter.

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"Minnesota Made" was a smashing success!

This year's "Minnesota Made" event was attended by a record-high 225 people, and generated over $101,000!

A very enthusiastic crowd bid on a curated collection of adventurous and intriguing silent auction items, and our exciting field trips that ranged from dinner with a herd of bison to guided birdwatching at Sax-Zim Bog were filled to capacity.

This event is successful because of the wonderful sponsors who cover the expenses for the evening, as well as donations by Patisserie 46, Alexis Bailly Vineyards, Summit Brewing, Lakewinds Co-op, Lakewood Berry Farm, The Lab Theater and AV for You.

We also wish to thank Vikre Distillery who introduced their Minnesota Made vodka and gin cocktails to a very appreciative audience!

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A "Minnesota Made" party you won't want to miss!

Guests look forward to our unique "Minnesota Made" auction items.You're invited to join us on Wednesday, May 20 for a Minnesota-inspired event that celebrates the best parts of our state! That includes food, beer, wine and other such essentials, but we'll also put the spotlight on the treasured places we are all working so hard to protect and preserve!

From the majestic blufflands of the Mississippi River valley and the rivers and streams that feed it (such as Lanesboro's Root River area)...to the wilderness gateway forests of Minnesota's North Woods that are constantly threatened with development. From the prairie grasslands in western Minnesota that are disappearing to row crops, to the precious pockets of open lands still remaining in our metro area.

Sign up for intriguing, adventurous and exclusive Field Trip opportunities!All these treasured places deserve our attention - to celebrate those places already conserved forever, and to call attention to those places that should be next.

The evening is fun, fast-paced and filled with delicious food prepared by the award-winning chef behind Red Stag, The Third Bird, Tiny Diner and Cafe Barbette. And you'll love a carefully curated selection of auction items that include a dog-sled adventure (you'll drive!) and a guided sail in Duluth harbor.

It's not often you can support something that lasts forever...in this case permanent land protection!

You'll also have the opportunity to sign up for Field Trips that will make you forget the soggy baloney sandwich art museum tours of your childhood.

We hope you'll join us! Click here for tickets - but hurry, because Early Bird prices migrate away on May 1!


Innovative New Grassland Program Debuts

Photo: Don J. OlsonOver the last 150 years, western Minnesota has seen unprecedented landscape changes. Today, less than 1% of Minnesota’s native prairie habitat remains. Of that, only one-third is permanently protected.

To compound the problem, one million acres of Minnesota grassland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program will expire in the next five years, leaving an uncertain future ahead for wildlife habitat.

A functional conservation strategy for privately owned working lands is a necessary component of successful wildlife habitat management in west central Minnesota.

The Minnesota Land Trust, in partnership with The Conservation Fund and the Board of Soil and Water Resources and with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, is piloting a program that uses conservation easements to help stem the loss of grasslands and provide wildlife benefits while allowing livestock producers to maintain their herds.

This pilot program works with conservation-minded owners of working grasslands, like Jess and Tammy Berge.

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