Minneapolis parks due for a spring cleaning

The annual Minneapolis Earth Day Cleanup, described by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as “the largest community-service project in the city,” is 9:30 a.m.–noon April 23.

Recent years have seen more than 2,000 volunteers turn out to help collect litter in city parks and on the shores of lakes, streams and the Mississippi River. This year, they’ll be gathering at three dozen different cleanup sites spread across the city.

The first Minneapolis Earth Day Cleanup was held in 1995, and the Park Board estimates the event has removed more than 140,000 pounds of trash from streets and parkland since then.

Volunteers should bring gloves if they have them, but both gloves and trash bags will be available at the cleanup sites. While there’s no need to register, large groups of 20 or more volunteers are encouraged to contact Erica Chua at [email protected] or 230-6479 ahead of time to see where they’re needed.

Boom Island is one of this year’s cleanup sites and it’s also host to the inaugural 5K Bee Run/Walk/Cleanup put on by local nonprofit Great River Coalition in collaboration with the Park Board. The event aims to draw attention to efforts to preserve and expand habitat for bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators along the full length of the Mississippi River, from Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

The course takes participants from Boom Island to Nicollet Island and across the Stone Arch Bridge toward downtown. From there, runners and walkers head up West River Parkway to the Plymouth Avenue Bridge for the return to Boom Island.

Race-day registration ($40) opens at 7:30 a.m., but runners and walkers can also register in advance ($35) at greatrivercoalition.com. The race starts at 9 a.m., and participants are encouraged to join the cleanup after they cross the finish line.

For a list of all the cleanup sites and more information on the Minneapolis Earth Day Cleanup, go to minneapolisparks.org.

Arboretum hosts Urban Waters Forum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum hosts a forum on protecting urban lakes and streams April 23.

The 2016 Urban Waters Forum will gather together local experts and community members to share information on keeping local waters clean. Opportunities for citizen and community involvement in reducing water pollution are a focus of the forum.

Attendees will learn about actions they can take on their own property or in their neighborhoods. They’ll also have a chance to connect with Master Water Stewards who are trained in reducing the pollution caused by urban stormwater runoff.

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is one of a number of local groups sponsoring the event.

The forum runs 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. April 23 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska. The cost is $20 ($15 for arboretum members).

For more information, or to register, go to arboretum.umn.edu/2016UrbanWaters.aspx or call 301-1210.

Volunteers needed to monitor wetland health

The Wetland Health Evaluation Program is recruiting volunteers for another season of wading into wetlands to catalog plants and invertebrates.

There’s a high demand for volunteers in Minneapolis, where teams of citizen scientists monitor 10 separate wetlands, said Mary Karius of Hennepin County Environmental Services. No experience or expertise is required, but the volunteers produce valuable scientific data that is used to guide planning and natural resource management.

Volunteer applications will be accepted through June 15, but Karius suggested those interested should apply early. The first outings to wetlands often take place in late May or early June.

For more information, or to register as a volunteer, go to the county’s website, hennepin.us, and enter “WHEP” into the search bar.

Educators may be interested in a similar monitoring program that is targeted to school classes and youth groups. The county is recruiting new groups into its River Watch program, which sends teams of middle and high school students into local streams to sample for macroinvertebrates.

“It’s more educational and outreach than data collection, but the data we get is pretty good,” Karius said, adding that one classroom teacher been sampling with his classes for over 20 years.

Washburn and South high schools, Carondelet Catholic School and Nawayee Center School are a few of the Minneapolis schools that have participated in the past. For more information, teachers and youth group leaders can contact Karius at [email protected] or 596-9129.