You are here

Alex Roth

Goldenrod vs. ragweed: Which causes allergies and which benefits pollinators?

A field of showy golden flowers is a common site in late summer, but is goldenrod to blame for our allergies?

A field of showy golden flowers is a common site in late summer, but is goldenrod to blame for our allergies?

Each year, we get questions about whether goldenrod is contributing to our late-summer allergies. The short answer: Most likely not, it's actually ragweed that's to blame.

In fact, goldenrod plays a role in habitat restoration and is sometimes planted by FMR ecologists. >>

August 13

Wildlife returning to FMR restoration sites

Red-headed woodpecker, baby snapping turtle, chorus frog

If you restore habitat, will wildlife return? Signs — or rather, red-headed woodpeckers, snapping turtles and chorus frogs — point to yes. (Photos courtesy [clockwise] Mike Krivit, WikiMedia, and Tom Reiter.)

This spring, we kept a close eye on our habitat restoration projects to see if they're paying off for wildlife. If our sightings are any indication, we’re certainly on the right track!

Red-headed woodpeckers were spotted in one of our oak savanna restoration areas, tadpoles wriggled in just-created wetland basins, and turtles were quick (relatively) to take advantage of newly built nest protection sites. >>

June 11

Burn, baby, burn...but only when we say so!

An April prescribed burn rolls through a blufftop prairie at the Flint Hills Pind Bend Bluffs property.

A prescribed burn rolls through a blufftop prairie at the Flint Hills Pind Bend Bluffs restoration site. (Photo by Karen Schik.)

Spring has officially sprung, and with it comes those familiar signs of life: plants begin to green, flowers bloom, migrating birds return, and fires burn through the prairies at FMR restoration sites!

Learn more about how we use fire to restore wildlife habitat, and the impact of a recent unplanned fire on an FMR restoration site. >>

May 7

Cheers to Flannery & her award-winning earthworm research with FMR!

Flannery Enneking-Norton stands with her award-winning project at this month's Twin Cities Regional Science Fair.

Three cheers to Flannery Enneking-Norton and her first-place finish at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair. Her project "Confirming the facilitative relationship between Lumbricidae and Rhamnus cathartica" also earned honors from the USDA and Minnesota Horticultural Society.

In 11th grade, Flannery Enneking-Norton went on a field trip with her class and FMR staff to Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul. Their task? To identify and count certain plant and insect species, including invasive earthworms. As they wriggled from the ground, Enneking-Norton was smitten. 

Since then, the St. Paul Academy high-schooler has been working hard to help FMR better understand the relationship between earthworms and their fellow invasive species, European buckthorn, at our habitat restoration sites.

The result? An interesting finding regarding the worst worm invader of all — nightcrawlers — and a first-place win for Enneking-Norton in the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair! Not to mention awards from the US Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Horticultural Society. >>

March 12

From prairie to farm and back again

To celebrate our 25th year, each month in 2018 FMR staff will profile places along the metro Mississippi River that are near and dear to us, places that connect to FMR but that we also enjoy in our own downtime. By the end of our silver year, we'll have built a map of 25 special river places for you and yours to learn about, visit and enjoy.

First up: Houlton Conservation Area. Check out the backstory on this tale of transformation and mark your calendars to witness the return of a massive riverfront prairie! >>

January 8

Of snow and foresty mowers — a glimpse at our behind-the-scenes winter work

Forestry mower

One of the many types of forestry mowers used on FMR projects, often a bobcat or skidsteer with a modified front attachment.

You may think winter is the offseason for FMR’s outdoor work – a time when our ecologists are huddled inside for warmth, writing reports and grants, and pining for spring. But restoration work doesn’t stop because of snow. In fact, some tasks are specifically timed for the cold season, and set the stage for work throughout the year.

January 8

Nature Notes: Let's talk turkeys

A wild turkey displaying its feathers

A wild turkey struts his stuff.

Once on the brink of extinction in Minnesota and beyond, wild turkeys are now a common sight for Twin Cities and greater Minnesota residents alike. This November, take a minute to learn about this wild animal with an interesting history. >>

November 13

A big new prairie is on the way!

The farm field at the William H Houlton Conservation Area about to be turned into prairie

An aerial view of a prairie in progress. On the left: stubble left over from the fall soybean harvest. On the right: the half of the field worked up for broadcast seeding native prairie species.

It's not every day that FMR ecologists get to convert 180 acres of soybean and farm fields back to native prairie. Sure, we return park lawns and buckthorn thickets to prairie every year, but individual project sites rarely crack the 100-acre mark.

So we're especially excited about beginning the large-scale transformation at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River. Check out some photos from the first steps of creating this much-needed pollinator and wildlife habitat at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers! 

November 13

Nature Notes: Fall is for the squirrels

Gray squirrel feeding on a tree branch

'Tis the season for gray squirrels to fatten up.

Each year, the cool fall weather is accompanied by a flurry of wildlife activity. Most species are busy preparing for the winter — gathering and storing food, prepping their nests and burrows, and putting on a few extra pounds. In the Twin Cities, no animal is a better example of this than the gray squirrel.

While many residents consider them a bit of a nuisance — chattering from the trees, darting across streets, and leaving piles of chewed food on decks and sidewalks — these smart little critters have an interesting history and impressive adaptations that allow them to flourish in our human-dominated landscape. >>

October 9

Pages