Long, bumpy boat rides are a fundamental part of finding the clues to Lake of the Woods’ water quality problems. The huge lake on the Canada-U.S.A. border requires speeding long distances over rough water to remote sites, but the trips have been worth it.
Joshua Cunningham, a painter staying on the banks of the St. Croix River this month, will be painting the scenic farmer’s market and other activities of Marine on St. Croix this Saturday. He will be happy to talk with anybody who stops by to watch him depict the bustling, peaceful village.
Reconstructing native prairie isn’t as simple as plowing under cropland and scattering some grass seed around. Certain species of native plants fare better in the early years of a prairie’s life. They can hold their own against invasive plants that are often aggressive in such situations, and ultimately establish a plan community that lets other, more submissive species begin growing.
Much of the research station’s work studies specific issues important for reducing pollution, setting public policy, and helping make smart management decisions. But there is also a lot of “pure science” that happens here. Perhaps the purest, and one of the oldest, forms of science is the discovery and description of new species.
Saturday, July 18 was a scorching day following a stormy night. It was also the day of the research station’s “In Praise of Pollinators and Prairies” event. Despite a tent that blew down in strong winds that also took down nearby trees overnight, and a hot and humid morning, almost 80 people came to tour the prairies, hear from expert speakers, and learn how native plants and insects depend on each other.
The prairies at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station were planted in 1999 and 2000. They are still growing strong – one of them was burned again this spring and is already adorned in a diverse mix of grasses and blooms.
It was a first for both of us. For Icaro Macedo, a summer intern at the research station from Brazil, it was his first time in a canoe. For me, it was my first time taking a Brazilian canoeing. Since he was spending a couple months both living and working at the station, it seemed important that he see a little of the river flowing by a hundred yards away. It also seemed important to hear what a marine geology student from South America thinks about the world, rivers, science, and the future.