Green digest // Vive la Midtown Greenway

Vive la Midtown Greenway

How does this sound for a summer vacation: four round-trips on the Midtown Greenway and then one to France?

The flight for two to France — plus a weeklong stay in a wine country chateau — is the grand prize of the first ever Greenway Challenge, an approximately four-hour ride set for June 5. The winner won’t be the fleetest rider, but the one who raises the most in pledges to support the Midtown Greenway Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for the non-motorized transportation corridor.

The person who raises the second-highest amount in pledges walks away with a new bicycle, and third place gets dinner for two at a local restaurant. There were also prizes planned for the best-decorated bicycle and best-costumed rider participating in the 44-mile ride.

Go to midtowngreenway.org for more on event rules, registration and prizes.

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Win a $1,000 rain garden

If you show up for one of Metro Blooms’ remaining spring rain garden workshops you may get more than an introduction to rain garden design.

The 5,000th attendee, expected to walk into a workshop sometime this spring, will win a rain garden installation valued at $1,000, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit announced in May. The price tag includes: a consultation with a landscaper; assistance with garden design and plant selection; excavation; and all materials, including plants, mulch and compost.

Rain gardens planted with deep-rooted native species slow the flow of runoff during storms, allowing rainwater to soak directly into the ground. The gardens both filter pollutants out of storm water and divert some runoff from area waterways, lessening erosion and protecting wildlife habitat.

Metro Blooms will offer its two-part workshop at various locations — including several in Minneapolis — through June 24. The workshops are $10 each, or $10 for both if taken in a single session.

Visit metroblooms.org to learn more about the organization or sign up for a spring workshop. Attendees also may register by calling (651) 699-2426.

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City: Don’t prune those ash trees

Minneapolis residents were asked to hold off on pruning ash trees until the end of the summer to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer.

The invasive beetle, dormant during the colder half of the year in Minnesota, is active between May 1 and Labor Day, the city reported. April showers bring May flowers — and emerald ash borers, apparently.

First discovered in 2002 near Detroit, the invasive pest has spread since to 13 states and Quebec, killing millions of ash trees along the way. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture arborists confirmed the first infestation in the state about a year ago in St. Paul, and in February they reported it had spread to Minneapolis.

Ash account for about one-fifth of Minneapolis’ estimated 900,000 trees on public and private property.

Hennepin County has been under emerald ash borer quarantine since 2009. The quarantine restricts the movement of not just ash trees and limbs but of any hardwood, since species can be difficult to tell apart when they’ve been chopped into logs.

Go to mda.state.mn.us to learn more about the emerald ash borer or the quarantine. Homeowners who suspect they may have an infested ash tree on their property were encouraged to call the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Arrest the Pest Hotline at (651) 201-6684 or e-mail arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.

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Lakes Calhoun and Harriet get A’s

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District released its annual water quality report card in April, and both Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet passed with flying colors.

Both lakes earned an A grade in 2009, indicating their healthy, clear waters are good for recreation throughout the summer. The A to F scale used by the watershed district relies on measurements of water quality, algae growth and nutrient levels taken from May to September.

Cedar Lake, a bit higher up on the Chain of Lakes, earned a B because of late-summer algae blooms. Lake of the Isles earned a C because of algae blooms that begin earlier in the summer recreation season.

Go to minnehahacreek.org to download the full report.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board provides water quality updates for city swimming beaches throughout the summer at minneapolisparks.org. Swimmers may also call the MPRB Beach Hotline at 313-7713.