Archive | Environment

Snakes in the grass: A key to Minnesota’s vanishing prairie

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Kellogg, Minn. — In a sandy tract of grassland where the Zumbro River empties into the Mississippi, Jeff LeClere wades in waist-high grass.

The scientist’s visit to Weaver Dunes, is the latest foray to the area where researchers have long studied turtles, falcons, bald eagles and other wildlife populations.

But LeClere isn’t looking up. Instead, he has his eyes open for reptiles that slither in the grass. A herpetologist for the Minnesota Biological Survey, LeClere is leading its effort to catalog Minnesota’s snake species and estimate their population.

Even in region with abundant water, residents turn to bottles and try to conserve

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Lewiston, Minn. — Fast-moving water in southeast Minnesota, a region of rolling hills and caves, bluffs and valleys and hundreds of miles of freshwater trout streams, helps create an abundant groundwater supply. In some areas, it’s just 10 to 20 feet below the surface.

That’s a good thing for the 11 counties that get all of their drinking water from the ground, instead of rivers or lakes. But it also means nitrate contamination from fertilizer applied by area farmers happens fast in the aquifers closest to the surface.

As a result, some communities are being forced to take steps — sometimes costly ones — to both tap and protect their groundwater.

Stingless wasps: How much do they help in the fight to save ash trees?

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Great River Bluffs State Park, Minn. — It’s been three years since state and federal officials first released thousands of tiny stingless wasps on an island in the Mississippi River to combat the destructive emerald ash borer.

Now, researchers are using a new technique at one state park in southeastern Minnesota to measure the effectiveness of the wasps.

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