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BIG RlvER

April 1994

cies were taken than expected. Ringneckedducksaredivers. Theywereprobably shot in greater numbers than usual because wood ducks, teal and other puddle-dabbling ducks went west to feed on unharvested grain in flooded fields. The large number of young ducks indicates that nesting was more successful than the experts expected. Experts from up and down the Mississippi Flyway have been flying in for the gathering, which they call a "wing bee," every year since 1961. They stay for five days and then disperse.

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Watch for ...

aid eagles' nests: If you find a bald eagle's nest- probably the biggest nest you're likely to see in these parts report it to your state Department of Natural Resources, who will teach property owners how to help protect the eagles during nesting season. Such protection and the banning of DDT in the 1970s helped the great birds make a spectacular comeback. There are now 568 nesting pairs in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Loggerhead shrikes: If you see logger head shrikes anywhere in Minnesota, call the Minnesota DNR (1-800-766-6000). The loggerhead shrike is a small bird, about the size of a robin, that lives in shrubs and hedgerows. It hunts insects, mice, lizards and birds smaller than itself, and has the macabre habit of impaling its prey on barbed wire or thorns. Farming and development have taken a toll on its numbers. It's now endangered in the state. Blanding's turtles: 'Tis the season for turtles to cross roads looking for food and nesting places, so keep your eyes peeled as you drive through wetland areas; you may spot a Blanding's turtle. These slow-moving reptiles with bright yellow throats and high-domed shells are listed as threatened in Minnesota. If you see one in the Twin Cities area, call the Minnesota DNR, which is trying to plot nesting sites on public lands. It's not easy being a Blanding turtle. If they escape predation by skunks and raccoons, which kill more than 80 percent of them, the 12 or so eggs laid in each nest will hatch in about 60 days. Then the hatchlings have to make it to the water,

where they become prey for birds, mammals and predatory fish. If they survive these threats, they can live as long as 75 years. That is, if they're not flattened under the wheel of your car or their habitat isn't turned into a parking lot.

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River Cleanup Help

or help organizing river cleanups or other stewardship activities in your community, contact the Mississippi River Revival, a nonprofit organization with a lot of experience. It recently received a grant from the McKnight Foundation to help organize activities in ten communities between Little Falls, Minn., and Bellevue, Iowa. For more information contact Mary Coughlan, (507) 452-9323, or write the Mississippi River Revival, P.O. Box 315, Winona, MN 55987-0315.

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Boxcars Fall into River

our boxcars loaded with about 100 tons of shelled corn fell into the Wisconsin River near Lone Rock in early March. The conductor said he felt the engine lean to the right a bout 200 feet out onto the bridge, but the engine was off the bridge by the time it collapsed. The conductor stopped the train and walked back over the top of the cars to find that "four cars out of the middle of the train were gone," according to a story in the Wisconsin State Journal (3-9-94). Officials speculated that ice may have damaged the bridge. Since the corn had not been treated with pesticides, it was not expected to harm the river, even if it leaked out. The story did not say why the accident, which occurred at 10:30 p.m., was not reported to authorities until 7:30 a.m.

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Wildlife Posters

f you' re looking for ·something to liven up those walls, check out the fullcolor, wildlife posters available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: • Endangered species success stories, features grizzly bears, orchids, cutthroat trout, bald eagles and more; #024010-00702-8; $6.50. • 27 common sport fish, including largemouth bass, red drum, catfish and rainbow trout; #024-010-00700-1; $6.50.

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• "Songbirds of Forest and Field" with artwork by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, one of America's finest bird painters; #024-010-00699-4; $6.50. • two posters previously released in a series called "Endangered Means There's Still Time": desert-dwelling creatures (#024-010-00698-6, $5.50); coastal species \#024-010-00693-5, $4.75). For posters, write to Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C 20402, or call (202) 783-3238. Applications and a brochure tell how to apply for federal grants to protect or improve wetlands through the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund; free, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Publications Unit, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr., 130 Webb Bldg., Arlington, VA22203.

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Recreation Benefits

oaters, bird watchers, rock skippers and other folks recreating on the Upper Mississippi River support about $1.2 billion in total industrial output and 18,500 jobs a year. This factoid is one of the highlights of a study done by the Army Corps of Engineers analyzing economic aspects of recreational activities along the river. For a summary of The Economic Impacts of Recreation on the Upper Mississippi River System, contact Bruce

Carlson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attention: CENCS-PD-ES, 190 Fifth St. E., St. Paul, MN 55101-1638. Or call (612) 290-5252.

Ft. Snelling Seeks Center

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he only state park in the Twin Cities, Fort Snelling, gets a lot of traffic, and it needs a new visitor center, says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR has asked the state legislature for $2 million to build one.

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The Dammed

he effects of dams on river ecosystems are coming under intense scrutiny. "Dam Yanking," in The Minnesota Volunteer (March-April 1994) examines issues related to removing dams that no longer serve their original purpose. Three feature stories in Trout (Winter 1994) examine the effects of dams and watershed conservation on rivers. -

Profile for wsuopenriver

Big River - April 1994  

Big River - April 1994  

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