Don’t miss our Dec. 4th presentation: Water Quality, Lake Sedimentation and Drones: New Technology for Old Challenges

Dr. James Killarney will share his insights and expertise on how water quality monitoring and research have incorporated new technologies to expand our knowledge of the health of Maine’s lakes and ponds. Along with his colleagues in the Center for Wildlife Studies and with the support of foundations and NASA grants, he has incorporated the use of drones into the research methods for assessing the water quality and lake sedimentation of Lake Winnecook in Unity. Maine. He will share the successes, challenges and stories of how this and other new technologies are being added to the scientist’s tool bag.

This presentation will be offered at our Annual Gathering Friday, December 4th at 3pm. The event will be held virtually. We hope you will join us for this fascinating presentation and our annual gathering!

Register here (this event is free).

Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Planning Consultant Services for Impaired Lake Watershed Plan Development

The Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District (District) is requesting Statements of Qualifications from interested and qualified Consultants for Professional Planning Consultant Services in order to assist in the development of an update to the Unity Pond (Lake Winnecook) Watershed-Based Management Plan.  The purpose of the Unity Pond (Lake Winnecook) Watershed-Based Management Plan Project is to create a comprehensive plan for Unity Pond (Lake Winnecook) with well-developed implementation strategies that effectively improve the water quality of the lake over the next 10 years.

The purpose of this project is to develop an updated watershed-based management plan (WBMP) for Unity Pond that includes EPA’s nine minimum planning elements. The project will collect information about lake water quality and watershed hydrology, inventory NPS problems, evaluate septic systems, assess the external and internal phosphorus load, and bring together a diverse group of watershed stakeholders to develop locally-supported water quality targets and watershed goals, objectives and action strategies for restoring the pond. The project will integrate project findings into an updated WBMP which will be used to guide watershed restoration efforts over the next 10-year planning period (2022-2032).

For Full RFQ click here.

Leave the Leaves…You Can Be Neat While Being Messy!

Well right now we are looking at our yards and thinking about how messy they look, from leaves everywhere to dead stems in the gardens. But turn your thinking around for a moment to the idea that this mess is vital to many of the creatures we love, such as songbirds, and those we don’t see but keep our yard healthy and resilient.  It’s much better to leave fallen leaves, branches, stems, and seedheads where they are rather than blowing, shredding, or raking them away. That organic matter is essential forage and cover for butterflies, moths, bees, salamanders, birds, and other creatures. It also insulates plant roots through the cold winter months and then decomposes to build up living soil that’s so important to a healthy ecosystem.

If you want to follow these healthy practices but also have your yard looking neat and cared for, you can do some of the things that have worked for me. My yard is a very visible place in a neighborhood, so I have been learning ways to strike a balance between leaving all of these valuable materials in place and looking neat. For my pollinator garden, I leave tall meadow plants standing, but rake away leaves from the edges where I have lower plants and mulch. I also rake the grass turf area. I keep these raked leaves on site in a compost area in back. Many of these plants such as coneflowers, sunflowers and asters look lovely standing in winter with frost and snow on them. For some stems that don’t stand up as well, I trim them and leave them in place in visible areas. Next spring, I will add mulch right over the top of this rich organic layer in areas I want to look neat.

Learn more about why it’s important to leave your yard “cleanup” until spring in this article from the Ecological Landscape Alliance.

It’s Fall…Think Pollinators

It’s nearly the middle of October, and though it seems like most plants are dying or becoming dormant, if you look closely at fields and roadsides you’ll see bees of all sizes as busy as summer on the many flowers still blooming. I don’t know about you, but I love to look at the natural beauty of Maine roadsides in the fall, with perfect patches of deep purple, white and pink asters, black-eyed susans and goldenrods. We have native fall wildflowers that are even sold for gardens since they are so striking, such as the purple New England Aster (in photo above). Even goldenrods (which contrary to what you hear don’t cause seasonal allergies),  which many think of as weedy have beautiful species and cultivars that look lovely in the garden. All of these plants provide absolutely essential late season food for bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators. Long grasses, shrubs, and unmowed pasture and crop field edges all help to provide what pollinators and other beneficial insects need.

We are starting a Pollinator Pathways project here in Waldo County, where you can let us know about your pollinator site (garden or even a field managed for wildflowers) and we will be creating a map to help folks create a patchwork of pollinator habitat to help support our many beneficial insects. And, our first site is already in place, at Wales Park in Belfast. It is also a demonstration, with labels on plants and pathways to explore. Check out our page on the park, and our new video series on planting for pollinators on our YouTube channel. If you visit Wales Park now, you can see bees of all sizes loading up pollen on native asters, goldenrods and also garden favorites like Zinnias and Cosmos. Next spring we’ll let you know how to submit your planting for Pollinator Pathways.

Now Available: Teacher Materials for 2020 Theme Where Would We BEE without Pollinators?

Download the materials for the National Association of Conservation Districts 2020 Theme on pollinators here. The District has a limited supply of printed copies, so please contact us to request these if you are ready to teach this theme, or would like to talk to our staff teacher about teaching about pollinators. We will be sending a sample packet of these materials and other resources to all K-8 teachers in Waldo County (look for yours in late October), and you can also request a packet from us on the contact form.

If you would like to participate in the 2020 poster contest on pollinators, see this link for more information, and contact us to get started.

Downloads

Notes:

The Educator’s Guide is for teachers of all levels, and the Pollinator Big Book is the “text” for all grades.

Activity books are one for each level 1-4: Level 1 is for Grades K-1, Level 2 is for Grades 2-3, Level 3 is for Grades 4-5, Level 4 is Grades 6 and up.

Educators_Guide

Pollinators_Big_Book

NACD_Pollinators_Level 1 Booklet

NACD_Pollinators_Level_2_Booklet

NACD_Pollinators_Level3Booklet

NACD_Pollinators_Level4Booklet

Pollinators_Placemat