Green digest // Chimney swifts

Those aren’t bats, they’re chimney swifts

BRYN MAWR — A tiny bird whose population has experienced a sharp decline will get a little help this fall thanks to a collaboration involving the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association (BMNA).

A new roosting site for chimney swifts — small, bug-eating birds often mistaken for bats — went up in J.D. Rivers Children’s Garden in Theodore Wirth Park in July with financial support of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, BMNA and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis contributed $700 toward the construction of a 16-foot chimney swift tower that may become a roosting site for hundreds of the birds during their spring and fall migrations.

Chimney swifts fly each spring from the Amazon basin in South America to spend their summers in Minnesota, returning south in the fall. The bird’s population declined by about half in the past four decades due to loss of habitat, the Park Board reported.

Park Board Environmental Education Coordinator MaryLynn Pulscher said they are most active around dusk, when they leave their roosts to hunt insects. The tower would include a kiosk with information about chimney swifts and other birds in Theodore Wirth Park, Pulscher said.


Making recycling easier

Minneapolis will study a recycling system that requires less sorting by residents with the help of a Hennepin County grant.

The $100,000 grant to study dual-stream curbside recycling was one of nine Waste Abatement Incentive Fund grants the county awarded in July. It will fund a yearlong pilot project involving about 700 homes, most located in the Seward neighborhood.

If successful, the program could expand to the rest of the city, said Dave McNary, Assistant Director for Environmental Services.

“With a dual-stream system you have two [recycling] containers: one for fibers [like paper or cardboard] … and then the other container is for all your containers, whether they’re plastic, aluminum or metal,” McNary said.

He said the city would use the pilot program to evaluate the cost of dual-stream recycling as well as the amount of “contamination” in the system, meaning garbage that is mistakenly placed in recycling or recyclables that are put in the wrong bin.


Park Board greening rec centers

FULTON — Pershing Recreation Center was one of five Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board buildings scheduled for an energy-saving makeover.

The Park Board announced in July plans to boost the energy efficiency of five its recreation centers, including Pershing in Southwest. The others are Lake Nokomis, Matthews and McRae in South and Logan in Northeast.

The Park Board reported the five recreation centers set to receive improvements were selected because they already had condition issues that led to higher levels of energy consumption. Energy-saving measures will vary from site-to-site, depending on the condition of the building and its particular needs.

Renovations could include improved insulation and weather stripping, adjustments to the buildings’ heating and air conditioning systems and temperature controls, new vending machine controls and water-saving plumbing upgrades. Financing for the $441,000 project was anticipated to come from reduced utility costs at the five recreation centers.

Improvements were not expected to interrupt regular operation of the recreation centers.


New leadership at Transit for Livable Communities

The nonprofit organization that runs Bike Walk Twin Cities hired one of its founders as executive director in July.

Barb Thoman, who co-founded Transit for Livable Communities in 1996, had served since March as acting executive director of the organization. Transit for Livable Communities’ nonpartisan advocacy encourages “a balanced transportation system” that includes public transit, bicycles and walking alongside motor vehicles, according to the organization’s website.

Thoman previously worked on Transit for Livable Communities’ lobbying efforts, authored research reports and was involved in Bike Walk Twin Cities. A federally funded pilot program, Bike Walk Twin Cities aims to increase the amount of biking, walking and transit use compared other forms of transportation in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Transit for Livable Communities, based in St. Paul, reported it conducted a national executive director search before hiring an internal candidate. For more information on the organization or its programs go to or