Natural Corridors: Healthy Ecosystems
Kathy Sidles, Sustainable Living Team
I love to walk to Frost Lake Park, and bike down the Bruce Vento Bike Trail on the east side of Saint Paul. I collect trash and pull garlic mustard along the trail and in neglected green spaces above the buried Lake Phalen Creek. I count birds and bumblebees as I work and enter data into ebird.org and bumblebeewatch.org. Chimney Swifts nest in apartment chimneys, feeding above Phalen Corridor as the creek bed it used to be, and I count them.
These natural area corridors are important. Birds and plants and insects that are part of a healthy ecosystem need connected habitats full of native plants to thrive. Wildlife genes have to flow for healthy populations.
And yet, according to the Minnesota Metro Conservation Corridors (MeCC), 60 acres of natural areas are being lost in the Metro area each day! These natural spaces are at odds with the needs to accommodate increasing city population. Upcoming plans call for denser industrial, mixed-use, and public transit corridors but this removes green spaces. For example, there is a plan to use the Vento Trail, for the Rush Line bus lanes. And the most strongly affected are often urban areas with high numbers of children, lower incomes, and diverse populations of people.
The problem with places like the Bruce Vento Bike Trail is that they don’t meet the criteria of being a regional park. Nor do other natural spaces like railroads or highway roadsides. Each year, there is tax revenue for Minnesota natural areas, with about $13 million going metro wildlife corridors. But without park status, they are not eligible for this money.
As a community, many things could be done! Ideas like expanding MeCC plans for neighborhoods along river corridors to be “green interpretive desserts.” Places like the Bruce Vento Bike Trail could become an official Regional Park, and therefore earn the protection and funding of spaces with this designation. We could improve Railroad corridors as native plant areas.
What can you do as an individual? Adopt a corridor, sign up as a volunteer, support organizations like the Audubon Society. Have your yard become part of the natural corridors for birds and bees by planting native plants that help them to thrive! Participate in our team’s plant sale/exchange on May 20 and obtain more native plants.
Connect with Unity’s Sustainable Living Team! Our next meeting on Tuesday, May 8, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., is a visioning session and all are welcome. Members Nicole Lynsey and Riley Jaimison have returned from training with Interfaith Power and Light and will help guide us as we assess our “green” priorities and plot a path forward for the group and the church. Please come share your ideas!
Annual Plant Exchange and Sale: Sunday, May 20
Calling all gardeners (and gardener-wannabes)! We know that when perennials thrive they need to be divided. Bring those extra plants to church on the day of Unity’s flower communion! Then, look over our collection and choose something different to take home. We encourage outdoor vegetable varieties, ornamentals, and native plants. No houseplants, please. Label plants with species name and growing information, including soil and sun conditions. We are expanding our outreach to the neighboring community this year, so this is also opportunity to share plants with our church neighbors and beautify the neighborhood.
8:00-9:00 a.m.: Plant drop off under the tent in the green space; take a ticket for every plant you bring
10:00-11:00 a.m.: Plant Exchange! Exchange your ticket for first pick of plants
Noon-1:00 p.m.: Plant Sale! Any plants left after 11:00 will be sold for $1-5, or best offer. Proceeds support Unity’s Sustainable Living Team projects.
Compost Couriers Needed
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