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Updates & Stories

Why we do prescribed burns

The past couple of weeks have been good burning weather so we have been doing a lot of prescribed burns in the local state parks. We have burned two bluff prairies in Great River State Park in Nodine, MN. This slanted picture of fire running up hill is the actual gradient of the goat prairie, if you stood straight up you would fall over. Walking down the bottom of this prairie was quite the adventure! Read More

Conserving Through Generations: Words from the Past

My search this month for my grandfather in history has been aided by the fact that the original CCC era is extremely well preserved. Minnesota was one of the most active in the federally run program, with 148 camps throughout the state. It changed the lives of not only the almost 80,000 men who were enrolled in the program but also the countless number of military staff members and L.E.M (Local Experienced Men) who participated. Read More

The Weathered Minnesotan

I’m going to talk about the weather. It’s an all-too-frequent conversational topic lately; but don’t kid yourself- you love it. And if you don’t, please look deep down and really consider your Minnesotanhood.Check the state rankings of per capita smartphone weather app downloads- Minnesota tops every list (citation needed). If you’ve got less than three different weather apps on your phone, good luck making any friends here. Read More

Mid-Semester Greetings from North Minneapolis Youth Outdoors

I’m lucky to have such a diverse, hardworking group of young people in our crew, and although we’ve accomplished plenty in terms of restoration work and environmental education, we’ve had a lot of laughs. From talk of “trash robots” to explaining the definition of hormones and getting the youth to try hummus (“it just sounds gross”), Noah and I manage to find a balance between friend/mentor/supervisor. Read More

Working in City Parks

Dogs. They are an unmistakable part of my everyday. They are there with their owners or shall we say… chaperones on the paths, running through the woods or in a dog park. Big ones, small ones, shaggy ones… well you get the picture. They are everywhere. Dogs are only one of the many perks of doing urban conservation work. (And why is it again that they always look like their owners?) Read More

All Corps Day: Housing Issues & Environmental Justice

On four separate days out of a ten month service, Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa puts together special community service days formally referred to as All Corps Days. These days are meant to introduce corps members of different programs to one another while learning about the environmental issues facing the Twin Cities. The first All Corps Day took place on April 1 and focused on housing issues and environmental justice. Read More

Why we cut

Cutting down trees to conserve them seems counter intuitive to some. When I first joined the corps I wasn’t aware of why we were cutting down trees besides to remove them for prairie restoration. Not only do we cut down trees for prairies restoration, but also to promote sprouts from the tree roots, to remove invasive species and to slow down the spread of disease and bug infestations. Read More

A Logger’s Education

Two weeks ago our crew volunteered to work with DNR forestry to help burn and monitor slash piles. We didn't receive much more information than that, but burning is always fun. We drove toward White Bear Lake and I watched the terrain become slightly more forested, but only because it became more residential. Large suburban houses poked out of the maple stands. We pulled into a cul-de-sac and drove to the end where two muddy ruts dove through a small field past some lumber piles and a DNR van before disappearing into a pine stand. We got out of the truck as Art, the project host, approached us. In the forest I could see a skidder grappling piles of brush and dropping them onto a roaring bonfire. Beyond that I saw a field and then a playground and then a school. Read More

Conserving Through Generations

Incidentally, this first post about my grandfather falls on a fortuitous date. On April 5, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill creating the CCC in America. Then called the Emergency Conservation Work Program, it conveyed a message of hope to the young men in America. The recession we are facing now is not as grave as it was then. Unlike my grandfather, most of my friends and family are currently employed, most Americans have no trouble putting food on the table and the wages I earn through the Corps don’t get sent to dependents back home. However, Conservation Corps still instills ethical values in and gives hope to its hardworking youth. For while time may run linearly, everything, even back breaking work and service to family and country, churns in circular patterns, connecting the past to the present and to the future. Read More

Mothers needn’t worry

The Conservation Corps is also very concerned with my well-being. Less “Put on a jacket, it’s cold out,” and more “Don’t cut your leg off with that chainsaw.” The Corps takes safety and preparedness extremely seriously. Upon joining the Corps, each member is issued a full suite of personal protective equipment (PPE) that we will use through the rest of the year including task-specific hardhats, ear protection, multiple pairs of safety glasses, Kevlar-lined boots, chainsaw chaps, and gloves. Even better, the gloves and boots fit, the chaps are new, and prescription safety glasses are an option. Read More