Volunteers needed to monitor wetlands
The Wetland Health Evaluation Program is looking for a few good citizen scientists to join its Minneapolis team — no actual scientific experience required.
Volunteers with the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) work in teams with an experienced leader to monitor the health of metro-area wetlands. They wade into swamps, marshes and even man-made ponds to count and identify plants and invertebrates, whose density and diversity are critical indicators of environmental health.
Registration for the Hennepin County WHEP teams opened in March.
Mary Karius, a Hennepin County environmentalist who coordinates the program in and around Minneapolis, said no scientific credentials or training were necessary to join the program, although volunteers were encouraged to attend one or more of the training sessions held in May and June.
Volunteers head into the field during evenings and on weekends in June and July to take measurements at five wetlands — four in their community, and one in another part of the county. They typically dedicate about 20–40 hours over the course of a summer.
“You decide how much you want to put into it,” Karius said.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board use the data collected to monitor the impact of urban development on area wetlands, which provide both wildlife habitat and help to clean the waters flowing into lakes, streams and rivers. The program was founded in 1997, and also operates in Dakota County.
Last summer, Hennepin County fielded seven WHEP teams, including the Minneapolis Muckstars, each sponsored by a municipality.
For more information on WHEP, or to register as a volunteer, go to mnwhep.org. Those interested in volunteering also may contact Karius directly at 596-9129 or [email protected]
Spraying savings on Lake Street
Lake Street Council partnered with Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) in March to offer Lake Street restaurant owners a free solution to reduce dishwashing costs.
They offered 50 free high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves (worth about $85 each) to replace less-efficient sprayers that use more water and energy to pre-rinse silverware, plates and dishes. Even after a number of restaurants, including Lucia’s and Fuji-Ya, took advantage of the offer, a few of the free sprayers remained available in April, said Michelle Vigen, CERTs campaign and metrics coordinator.
Similar in concept and design to the low-flow showerhead a homeowner might install in a bathroom, the high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves maintain high water pressure while limiting the amount of water used, saving restaurant owners hundreds of dollars annually, Vigen said.
“Restaurant owners can be assured they are not going to see a drop in performance from this,” she said.
The total savings each restaurant achieves depends on a number of factors, including the water temperature and pressure in the area and how frequently the sprayer is used. Early reports indicate Lake Street restaurant owners will cut utility costs by $300–$400 per year, Vigen said.
The high-efficiency sprayers are already required in some states and parts of Canada, she added.
Vigen said CERTs would like to expand the program to other parts of the state, but had no specific plans, yet.
For more information on the program, go to sprayvalve.mncerts.org.
Two programs make event recycling easier
Green your spring or summer get-together with the help of one of the city or county programs that make recycling containers available for area events.
Hennepin County will add organics recycling units to its recycling container loan program in May. Event organizers — including nonprofit organizations, neighborhood groups and individuals — can borrow up to 40 recycling units for metal, glass and plastic containers and 20 organics recycling units for collecting paper and food waste.
The county loan program requires a refundable deposit starting at $100 for one to five portable recycling units, each of which includes a frame, labeled cover and up to five clear plastic or compost-ready bags. The county does not, however, provide collection and transportation of the materials collected; event organizers have to come up with their own disposal plan.
That’s one of the key differences between the county and city programs.
Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling will collect and dispose of trash, compost and recycling for event organizers who rent city containers. And that’s the other key difference: The city offers to rent the containers, not loan them, for a non-refundable $20 per container.
The city requires container rental applications to be submitted at least 10 days in advance of delivery. For more information on renting containers from the city, go to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/solid-waste/ and look for the “Rental of Containers” tab in the left-hand column (third from the bottom) or call 673-5411.
More information on the county’s recycling container loan program can be found online at hennepin.us/recycleonthego.