Conserve and Preserve blog - archive 1

February 12, 2019

Do you ever have one of those mornings? Wander sleepily into the kitchen to make coffee, and your coffee machine won’t turn on.  So you grab your coat and phone and go to walk to your neighborhood coffee shop, and shoot! You slip on your walk over and drop your phone, shattering the screen. And what was that ripping noise you heard as you fell? You ripped the sleeve of your brand new coat!

Photo of person falling on snow

Instead of going home and giving up on your day, bring all those broken items to Dakota County’s fix-it clinic!

You will find experts waiting there, to help you restore power to your coffee machine, switch out your phone screen, and mend your jacket.  All for free! 

Saving your wallet, and saving these items from the landfill. 

What other things can you fix, you ask? Here is an example of some of the things that have been repaired at Fix-It Clinics:

  • Antique radios and stereos
  • Vacuums
  • Blenders
  • Clothing
  • Tools
  • DVD players
  • Coffee makers
  • Fans
  • Flashlights
  • Lamps
  • Remote controls
  • Sewing machines
  • Telephones and cell phone screens
  • Toasters and toaster ovens
  • Jewelry

Questions? Call (952) 891-7557 or go online to the Dakota County’s Reduce & Reuse website.

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

February 5, 2019

DreaminPhoto of butterflies on flowersg of spring, Rosemount? Well, now is the time to start planning your garden!  Attend a free Landscaping for Clean Water workshop to learn about simple, beautiful options for your yard that also benefit local streams and lakes and provide habitat for pollinators.

At the workshop, you’ll see dozens of affordable designs that transform conventional urban yards into beautiful and beneficial landscapes. Afterwards, you can sign up for an advanced workshop where you will receive help designing a plan specific to your property, and become eligible to apply for a grant to help with your project! Find dates and register here: http://www.dakotaswcd.org/cleanwater_form.html.

The list of upcPhoto of worker installing rain garden signoming workshops is below. All workshops are an hour long (with time for questions afterwards) and start at 6 p.m. Anyone is welcome at any Landscaping for Clean Water workshop, no matter where you live! 

Farmington - Monday, March 11
Extension & Conservation Center, 4100 220th Street West

Burnsville - Tuesday, March 12
Burnsville City Hall, 100 Civic Center Parkway

Apple Valley - Wednesday, March 13
Apple Valley Municipal Center, 7100 West 147th Street

South Saint Paul - Wednesday, March 20
City Council Chambers, 125 3rd Avenue North

Lakeville - Monday, April 8
Lakeville City Hall, 20195 Holyoke Avenue

Burnsville - Tuesday, April 9
Burnsville City Hall, 100 Civic Center Parkway

Apple Valley - Tuesday, April 16
Apple Valley Municipal Center, 7100 West 147th Street

Eagan - Monday, April 29
Eagan Civic Arena, 3870 Pilot Knob Road

Minnesota Zoo (Apple Valley) - Tuesday, June 4
Minnesota Zoo, 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Main (South) Entrance

Rosemount - Thursday, June 27
Steeple Center, 14375 South Robert Trail

Photo of garden in front of houseHow does the Landscaping for Clean Water process work? After attending one of these educational introductory workshops, you’ll have the option to continue to a hands-on Design course. These classes (four total hours of class time, usually offered over two evenings) are offered from March to July, all over Dakota County. During the Design class, you’ll design a project (complete with a planting plan, estimating cost, and more) with the help of experts, maps of your property, and other resources.

 You’ll then be eligible to apply for a Landscaping for Clean Water grant – grant recipients can receive on-site technical assistance from the Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District and a $250 reimbursement check for their completed project! In 2018, we awarded 68 grants to Dakota County residents – that’s 68 new raingardens and native gardens in your neighborhoods! They join the more than four hundred gardens and shoreline plantings we’ve installed since Landscaping for Clean Water began.

Questions? Email Liz.Dengate@co.dakota.mn.us or Jessica.Braun@ci.rosemount.mn.us

Happy Gardening, Rosemount!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

January 29, 2019

Happy cold snap, Rosemount!

Photo of child in winter wear

Many of us will be battling the snow and ice that has accumulated on our properties this week. In the first blog of this series, we explored how road and sidewalk salt is often over, and incorrectly, applied. Remember that in temperatures colder than 15°F, traditional road salt is ineffective! See our January 8th post below for more details.

This week, we’d love to hear more about the role of road and water softening salts in your life. Take this quick, seven question survey. 

Now, here are some pictures of Minnesota in fairer weather, to help warm your spirits for the day.

Photo of summer scene

Photo of summer storm cloudsPhoto of summer flowers





January 24, 2019

Two weeks ago, we highlighted the impact that the overapplication of road salt has had on Rosemount. The City of Rosemount is taking a proactive approach to mitigate those problems.

This year, updated Public Works Quality Standards called for reducing road salt application and no longer has a “bare pavement” component. This new Public Works Quality Standards has crews applying road salt where it is most needed for safety on neighborhood streets: curves, hills, and intersections. Collector streets such as Connemara Trail, 145th Street, Dodd Boulevard, and Chippendale Avenue will still be treated with a goal of bare pavement at this time.

These small changes are already reflecting a sharp decrease in the number of tons of road salt applied in Rosemount. 

YearEventsTotal costAverage costTotal tons of saltAverage tons
Oct - Dec 20175$57,860$11,57240180.2
Oct - Dec 20189$60,274$6,69731134.5

Annually, 365,000 tons of road salt is applied in the Twin Cities Metro Area. And it only takes 1 teaspoon of salt to permanently pollute (i.e. can not be removed from the water nor does it move downstream) FIVE gallons of water! 

Logo suggesting scattering salt

What can you do to help carry the City’s more environmentally friendly actions further?

Remember to scatter salt smartly on your private property and sweep up any remaining salt for reuse, saving both your pocketbook and the environment. Research other methods that increase safety, like smartly applied sand, chicken grit, or even simply an ice scraper. There are many great tools out there; find one that fits your needs.

Let’s all do our part to save our water!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

January 15, 2018

Photo of food in trashLearn how to prevent household food waste by participating in Dakota County’s Food Waste Challenge February 1-28.

In the United States, households throw out around 25 percent of all food they purchase, which adds up to $1,800 each year for an average family.

The Food Waste Challenge will teach participants how to make simple shifts in how to shop, store, and prepare food to conserve money, water, energy, and other resources that would otherwise be wasted. 

Win great weekly prizes for reporting food waste!

Participants must attend an info session before the challenge start date. Tools and resources will be provided and there is no fee to participate. The Challenge is open to residents in Rosemount and Apple Valley.

Get ready for the challenge by attending any info session:

  • Saturday, January 26, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Robert Trail Library, Rosemount (In-person)
  • Wednesday, January 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Galaxie Library, Apple Valley (In-person or online)

Register by January 25 online or contact Jenny Kedward, Dakota County Environmental Specialist, at (952) 891-7043. If you want to attend the session virtually, you will receive a link to view the session online when you register.

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

January 8, 2019

We live in an icy and snowy place. Many of us love it! Ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing . . . winter is stock full of outdoor adventures.

No matter your love or dislike for it, we all need to get around in the winter. It’s too cold or too far to walk or bike.  So we drive.  But that ice and snow is on our roadways, and in our way.  

Old photo of truck with skis instead of wheelsWe used to have horses pull us around or put skis or chains on our cars.  Snow plows and brushes were invented for everything from the back of your mule to the front of your bicycle!  

Old photo of horses pulling snow brushIn the mid-twentieth century, we discovered a great trick to de-ice the roadways: Salt!  Salt lowers the freezing point of water, thawing the ice for less slippery conditions.

Now, road salt and its application is a booming industry, and a normalized way of life. City trucks put salt on main roads, homeowners salt their driveways, and businesses salt their walkways and parking lots.

But all this salt is piling up.

The problem is, it’s not natural to our Midwest environment. No plants uptake it in their growth. No aquatic or land animals use it. And most of it ends up in our lakes, rivers, and streams . . . and stays there.

In fact, 78% of salt used in the Twin Cities Metro Area (TCMA) settles to the bottom of our surface water bodies. It doesn’t move downstream. It’s toxic to our fish, contaminates groundwater, and disrupts lake mixing, which is a natural process imperative to its health. Research shows road salt has been linked to harming rainbow trout, butterflies, wood frogs, and even moose, as well as a plethora of other species.

Salt also helps mobilize heavy metals in soils, sediment, and pipes, which means they become suspended in water and transported to lakes, oceans, and our drinking water. 

Not only is it poisoning our landscape, it’s eroding it. Our infrastructure is damaged. Our cars, bridges, doorways, and signs are being eaten by rust. The economic and environmental cost of salt and its application is profound. 

So what do we do?

Well, we took salt use too far.  A major problem is we over apply it. 365,000 tons of road salt is applied each year in the TCMA. A very little bit of salt goes a long way. Just one grain works quickly and impacts a larger area than you might think - up to 3 inches all the way around it! 

If you have time, get out right after a storm to plow, shovel, or scrape the snow away and minimize the need for salt. Salt should never be used as traction or left to lie on bare pavement. Any excess after an application can be swept up Logo suggesting scattering saltand reused for the next storm. Sand can be applied and swept up in this same fashion. And did you know if it’s colder than 15 °F outside, traditional road salt (sodium chloride) stops working! It can only lower the freezing point of water from 32 °F to 15 °F.  Special (more expensive and equally as damaging) salts are needed when temperatures fall below 15 °F.

Another problem is social expectations. As soon as we started salting our roadways, it’s like we all forgot how to drive in the snow. We expect to get to the grocery store in the winter at the same time and same speed as we do in the summer. If we all just take a few more minutes, and drive a little bit slower and safer, we wouldn’t need to have completely bare roads and the environmental impact they cause.

So as we try to move beyond our salting days, see what you can do to help solve the problem.  Prevention is the only option for reducing salt. And little changes add up to a bigger movement! 

Let’s ditch the salt and help save our lakes.

(Salt Smart logo courtesy Western Lake Superior Regional Stormwater Protection Team (RSPT) at www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/stormwater/rspt.html)

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount