As plants, animals, and water resources are subject to climate change, we work to understand and maintain the quality and diversity of our resources. Volunteers from across our neighborhoods help out in seasonally applicable projects in collaboration with professionals, councils, and programs of best practices to help meet the needs in and around Stillwater.
We encourage the following seasonal “good housekeeping practices” for everyone:
Winter: Time for project planning. Resident best practices encouraged include minimal use of salt for deicing; sand for deicing should be recovered and reused all winter, then stored in the yard for next year. Pick up after your dog.
Spring: Clear road gutters of debris before it gets flushed down the storm drain into the nearest water resource or treatment system. Adopt your closest storm drain. Pull invasive plant species before they get established. Before clearing plant debris -- give bees time to warm up and get going. Pick up after your dog. Plant native plants and limit mowed lawn areas.
Summer: Maintain rain gardens. Keep leaves, grass clippings, and dirt off the streets and limit fertilizer and lawn chemicals. Pick up after your dog. Limit lawn watering. Maintain gardens and trees for bees and birds.
Autumn: Plan and implement buckthorn removal, last chance to pull out weeds, assess accomplishments of the year, assess successes and needs, plan for next year.
SSMN NRWG provides volunteers as needed in collaboration with Washington Conservation District. Raingarden volunteers are expected to cut down old growth in early spring to start maintenance. Uncut rain gardens get cut back by Public Works or Washington Conservation District in May, therefore may appear to be maintained. However, if there is no maintenance volunteer it will be apparent by July 1. Raingardens that stay unkempt through July 1 will be promoted for adoption on the SSMN website.
BLUEBIRD RECOVERY PROGRAM
We hope to expand the project in 2022 if we succeed in accessing more bluebird nest boxes via the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota. If you are interested in participating, please send us your contact information and level of experience. Anyone who will commit to regular nestbox checkups, recording observations, and is interested in learning is welcomed.
DOWNTOWN CIGARETTE DISPOSAL PROGRAM
A Make America Beautiful grant was procured in 2019 to install cigarette disposal canisters around downtown Stillwater. The Natural Resources Work Group manages that project. SSMN, the local business owners, and downtown visitors are all grateful for this project. Emptying downtown cigarette butt containers, installed by SSMN in 2019, is an often thankless job, which is why we must thank Mark Schwantes for continuing the effort. He took over the periodic checks and emptying of downtown containers for Bob Barratt, who previously took over for Cameron Murray. Thank you, Mark! And thank you Bob and Cameron for putting in years of effort on this project.
WHAT'S THAT PLANT? EVENTS
Have you ever wondered what is a plant with the pink flowers? Or red berries? Here is your chance to find out while enjoying a stroll down the Brown’s Creek trail! Plants will be marked with signage along the trail. Attend the event anytime between May 1-7, June 1-7, July 1-7, and September 1-7.
LILY LAKE RESTORATION
SSMN volunteers have helped to reduce stormwater runoff to Lily Lake through rain gardens, gully stabilization, stormwater pond retrofits, and clean-up activities. This planting will capture enough phosphorus to allow Lily Lake to be taken off of the state’s impaired waters list. The infiltration basin will provide additional natural beauty and pollution reduction for Lily Lake. Restoration efforts are led by Natural Resource Workgroup sub-leader, Fitize Heimdahl.
SUPPORTING LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
The SSMN Natural Resources Workgroup supports and/or collaborates with various local organizations on their projects and initiatives in the Stillwater, MN area.
MINNESOTA GREENSTEPS PROGRAM STILLWATER COMMITTEE:
Stillwater is a GreenStep City and SSMN has a GreenStep Committee.
MINNESOTA EXTENSION MASTER GARDENERS:
Master Gardeners are invited to assist with backyard wildlife habitat projects.
MINNESOTA EXTENSION MASTER NATURALISTS:
Master Naturalists are invited to assist with backyard wildlife habitat projects.
WASHINGTON CONSERVATION DISTRICT
Brown’s Creek Watershed District and Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization
GATEWAY BROWN'S CREEK TRAIL ASSOCIATION
Co-sponsors the What’s That Plant? events and Bluebird Recovery Program activities.
LILY LAKE ASSOCIATION
Invites SSMN Natural Resources Work Group for rain garden and vegetation management assistance. December 5 2020 we collaborated on a Buckthorn Bust
POLLINATOR FRIENDLY ALLIANCE
Collaboration as needed.
STILLWATER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION PROGRAM
Julie Balfanz, Coach, connects student projects with Sustainable Stillwater MN.
Waterbody trash removal and nature photography
NATURAL RESOURCE VOLUNTEER OPTIONS
These are open positions for the Natural Resource Workgroup.
BLUEBIRD RECOVERY PROGRAM
Workgroup Assistant (helps workgroup leader)
Description: Volunteers will learn the protocol and assist with monitoring and documenting the status of each bluebird house located along Brown’s Creek trail. The 10 installed bluebird houses were obtained from a grant under the Public Lands Nesting Box program and administered by the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota.
Duties: Throughout the bluebird migration season in Minnesota, volunteers will take turns monitoring and documenting the status of SSMN’s bluebird houses.
Planning for 2022 will begin in October.
Independent Volunteer (works on their own)
Description: Raingarden volunteers are expected to cut down old growth in early spring to start maintenance. Uncut rain gardens get cut back by Public Works or Washington Conservation District in May, therefore may appear to be maintained. Be even more involved and contact Louise Watson to get your photo taken and be recognized by SSMN for your adoption. You can also join the Stillwater MN Raingradens Facebook Group to connect with other independent volunteers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/597498293601128/?ref=share
Duties: Adopt a raingarden near your home for SSMN and maintain it throughout the year.
DOWNTOWN CIGARETTE DISPOSAL
Independent Volunteer (works on their own)
Description: A Make America Beautiful grant was procured in 2019 to install cigarette disposal canisters around downtown Stillwater. The Natural Resources Work Group manages that project. SSMN, the local business owners, and downtown visitors are all grateful for this project. Bob Barratt has been the volunteer monitoring the boxes since the fall of 2019; however, businesses are encouraged to monitor their own boxes and cigarette litter outside of their storefronts regularly. Contact us to request your own cigarette canister.
Duties: Monitor a cigarette disposal box and dispose of cigarette litter regularly to keep our downtown street clean.