The Sun White Citrus Collection

Mountains & Deserts

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's About Climate Time!

It’s about “climate” time folks! 

Highlighting the intersection between science and religion, Joe Towalski writes for the St. Paul, MN Archdiocesan newspaper The Catholic Spirit. Below is a clip from his latest article entitled, Prudence, civility needed in climate change debate, Nov, 26th, 2010:
[“Good science. Prudence. Both are needed as the world addresses the issue of climate change. I would also add one more thing: Civility as the science and its public policy implications are debated.
An associate professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is among those pushing for more civility and clearing up misinformation that clouds the debate. John Abraham says the scientific community needs to present the science about climate and greenhouse gas emissions objectively and dispassionately if there’s any hope of convincing sincere skeptics and getting them on board to find solutions. He has launched a website to connect the news media to about 50 national experts on various topics related to climate change.
“We need to depolarize the debate,” Abraham recently told the StarTribune newspaper. “As long as we are polarized, we are stalemated.”
Hopefully, his efforts will be a positive step to help the media and the general public better address this important issue…”] Read the Full Article
Finally, a quality news article showcasing one professor’s plea for civility in the endless, mud-slinging debate over the pre-eminent topic facing our world. Thank you Mr. Abraham for sticking your neck out! Your efforts are appreciated by natural resource and forestry professionals throughout the Great Lakes. 


Star-Tribune Article:  "Experts join climate debate - Seeking to avoid partisan politics, scientists speak up on global warming. " Nov. 25th, 2010.  I recommend exploring the comments section that follows this article. It’s truly disheartening to see so much anger, rage, misinformation, and political banter. Even on Thanksgiving people?

Skeptical Science: Examining Global Warming Skepticism

US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Global Climate Change - A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good

Climate Change Humor from RJ Matson

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent: The Season of the New Adam

Advent is generally summarized as a time of hope, anticipation, and expectation. Often, we can find these themes in various scripture passages and in the writings of many of the saints. Occasionally, we can find shining examples expressed in the literary world. Madeline L'Engle was a gifted American writer who is often known for transforming her love for science, faith, and art into wonderfully expressive works of poetry. This poem entitled "Eve" is taken from the 1987 collection, "A Cry Like A Bell".

When we left the garden we knew that it would be
The new world we entered was dark and strange.
Nights were cold.
We lay together for warmth, and because we were
of the un-named animals, and of the others: we
had never
known about the giants, and angels gone wild.
We had not been told
of dwarves and elves; they teased us; we hid
whenever we played.

Adam held me. When my belly grew taut and
began to swell
I didn't know what was happening. I thought it was
the beginning
of death, the very first death. I clung to Adam and
As I grew bigger something within me moved.
One day I fell
and the pains started. A true angel came and
pushed the grinning
creatures back. Adam helped. There was a tearing.
I thought I'd died.
Instead, from within me came a tiny thing, a new
red-faced, bellowing, mouth groping for my breast.
This was not death, but birth, and joy came to my
heart again.
This was the first-born child. How I did laugh and
But from birth came death. He never gave me
any rest.
And then he killed his brother. Oh, my child. Oh,
my son Cain.

I watched from then on over every birth,
seeing in each babe cruelty ready to kill
For centuries the pattern did not change. Birth
always meant death.
Each manchild who was born upon the longing
in gratefulness and joy brought me only a fresh
of tears. I had let hate into the world with that first

Yet something made me hope. Each baby born
brought me hurrying, bringing, as in the old tales,
a gift
looking - for what? I went to every slum and cave
and palace
seeking the mothers, thinking that at least I could
their hearts. Thus perhaps the balance might shift
and kindness and concern replace self-will and

So I was waiting at that extraordinary intersection
of Eternity and Time when David's son (Adam's
was born. I watched the Incarnate at his mother's
making, by his humble, holy birth the one possible
of all that I by disobedience had done. I knelt and
saw new
Adam, and I cried, "My son!" and came at last to

Prayer for Advent:

Lord Jesus, in these four busy weeks of Advent, help us to pause to remember the depth of your love for us. Beyond anything we deserved or could have imagined, love led you to a stable in Bethlehem and all the way to Calvary. Open our hearts to welcome you anew so that we can have something to share with a needy world each day.

Grant us joy of your friendship and bring us the strength, courage, and determination to
serve our brothers and sisters in your name.

(Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Duluth, MN)

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Monthly Round-Up: October's Collection Pt. 4 or "Way to be Professional"

It's quite amusing to read and view all of the attention being placed on a recent "entertainment-violence" hockey incident between a "ham en egger" checking forward and a supposedly sincere Minnesota Wild fan. I'm mean really c'mon now - only two weeks into another promising NHL season and we're forced to choose sides between these two?

Quickly after the incident, Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune writes: Runway view rocks, until run-in with a Canuck,
["I was just standing straight up applauding as he was getting kicked out," Engquist said. "He was out of control. So then I said, 'Way to be professional,' and he obviously didn't care for that comment and decided to grab me and almost dragged me over the rail…Engquist said nobody from NHL headquarters had called him as of late Wednesday afternoon, so he called Mark Stoffel, Xcel Energy Center's senior director of operations, who gave him the number for NHL security… Engquist said he has received no apology from the NHL, the Canucks or Rypien. He said he is "definitely" seeking legal representation.] Read More

Professional hockey players are an emotional bunch. Fans even more so...

According to President Gary Bettman, the NHL holds it's players accountable to the highest professional standards. My understanding is that, "under no circumstance are club personnel permitted to have physical contact with fans, or enter or attempt to enter the stands. ” History tends to side with Bettman- at least in so far as violence between players and fans.

But, is this really the "state of hockey" today?

Kaelon Lupton of Bleacher Report counters with,  Rick Rypien Suspension Raises Questions Among NHL, Fans,
[Rugged Vancouver Canucks forward Rick Rypien made his court appearance Friday (Oct. 22) and received a six-game suspension for pushing a fan, during an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Wild... Can we say overreaction? ...most people think six games is a joke, a weak punishment that laughs in the face of the NHL. The most recent six-game suspension was Sean Avery's, which he received for his Elisha Cuthbert-Dion Phaneuf controversy. So, assaulting a paying fan is equal to telling a "sex joke"? When you put it like that, it looks like the NHL dropped the ball on this one. Most people had anticipated anywhere from 10-20 games.”] Read More
Cooler heads prevail in the Vancouver media apparently. A sports headline which triumphantly states, NHL gets it right with Canuck Rick Rypien suspension: League commissioner Gary Bettman stunned the oddsmakers by refusing to overreact,
[For all the times the National Hockey League's ministry of justice is criticized for the ill-fitting suspensions it pulls out of its hat — or some mid-body aperture — to punish incidents requiring supplemental discipline, it behooves us to mention the odd time the league gets one right. Rick Rypien, meet King Solomon. He looks taller in the paintings, doesn't he?] Read More

An afterthought...

My answer to Mr. Engquist's potential legal action...ummmm dude, let it go. If last Friday's Canuck's vs Wild score is any indication, good hockey is really defined by off ice preparation and motivation rather than on ice  revenge.

Do I really have a problem with the deep-seated, ingrained, and old school leadership inside the NHL?


In case your wondering, the model ethic for professionalism in hockey was recently defined last winter in the 2010 Winter Olympic games... in Vancouver of all places. It's no surprise then as hockey moves forward, LET'S (both player and fan alike) all take notice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Monthly Round-Up: October's Collection Pt. 3 (maybe)

I just finished reading Cap. Joshua Slocum's breath-taking journal about his ground breaking solo circumnavigation across the world. Just simply amazing! At the age of 51, this seasoned, gritty sailor set sail from Boston, MA - alone -  in his thirty-six foot sloop "Spray" en route for such exotic and remote places like South America, the Straight of Magellan, Samoa, the Philippines, Cape of Good Hope, and St. Helena. Three years and 46,000 miles later Slocum returned unfettered and in better health than when he left. Here's a brief excerpt as he prepares to sail toward Gloucester- his first major destination: 
["The wind freshened and the Spray rounded Deer Island light at a rate of seven knots...Waves dancing joyously across the Massachusetts Bay met her coming out of the harbor to dash them into myriads of sparkling gems that hung about her in every surge. The day was perfect, the sunlight clear and strong. Every particle of water thrown into the air became a gem, and the Spray, bounding ahead, snatched necklace after necklace from the sea, and as often threw them away. We have all seen miniature rainbows about a ship's prow, but the Spray flung out a bow of her own that day, such as I had never seen before. Her good angel had embarked on the voyage; I so read it in the sea."] pg. 26

Further on the arduous journey he gives us this awakening thought... 

["During these days a feeling of awe crept over me. My memory worked with startling power. The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace- all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession. Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence. I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in many corners of the earth."] pg. 36
Slocum reading below deck as the Spray sails on!

It's moments like these that help me connect to all of the great travelers out there. I experienced a similar, very powerful feeling many years ago when undertaking my own "water voyage" en route to Hudson Bay, Canada. It occurred on a beautiful July evening as we paddled toward a remote harbor on the western side of Lake Winnipeg. Perhaps not a feeling but rather a calm, peaceful assurance that all is well. I felt transformed in a way- gaining an increasing respectful  communion with the lake as we slowly... but surely crept towards our ultimate destination. The experience was like looking at oneself in an out of body sort of way. I experienced the lake as a truly living, breathing entity and I saw myself and my friend as welcomed travelers united with her waters and her waves. Difficult to describe in a sort of poetic way then , but today it seems more about how we understand ourselves in our environment. Not domineering individualists, but rather uniquely connected and spiritual creatures who are called towards our true and real purpose in life.  

The Barnes & Nobles classic paperback edition from 2005 has several notable features you might be interested in including detailed sketch drawings from Thomas Fogarty, endnotes, a glossary of nautical terms, and selected commentary. The thorough introduction is provided by  Texas A & M professor Dennis A Berthold. 

The Chicago Daily Tribune summarizes "Sailing Alone Around the World"  in April, 1900: 
["Captain Slocum's simple and delightful narrative of his voyage around the world alone in the little sloop Spray combines the adventurous charm of 'Robinson Crusoe' with the life of and humor of Marryat. It is a rare good book for lovers of sea travels and adventure. The Captain is a literary artist as well as a daring and skillful sailor, and he tells his experiences with a delightful combination of modesty and delicate humor. Best of all, his story is true, and as remarkable for what it tells as for the way he tells it."]
I would expect nothing less of a Nova Scotian


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Monthly Round-Up: October's Collection Pt. 2 (maybe)

Q1- Why don’t you just move from Duluth to Grand Rapids and get it over with already? Q2- Why do you commute literally hundreds of miles a month to a job? 

A1- Upwardly-mobile, promotional moving that is driven primarily by monetary motive doesn’t solve much I’m afraid. The decision to move or not to move (or even to sell), must be made with the utmost care and delicacy folks. It demands thoughtful reflection along with an acceptable resolution between the love(s) for work, faith-community, relational-desire, and north shore environment. 

A2- As far as commuting to and from the workplace –that’s an even more sensitive topic with me these days. A topic so filled with complexity and competing priorities that I can’t even begin to illuminate how important it is, yet alone try to reconcile the issues like my increasing carbon foot print. Oh sure, there are many professionals who drive for a living. I respect all of you, especially those who deliver important packages. That’s not really what I mean. 

Ken Nordine often asked, “What’s he building in there?” 

He also echoes, “What’s he thinking about in there?…(in the vehicle)…in the time-commitment. Imagine fifteen-hours a week devoted to that drive… back and forth, every day… seems like one might need some snacks."

Perhaps the only really gratifying experience with long-distance work commuting is the simple fact that I have ample opportunity for prayer & dialogue. Perhaps it’s also the opportunity to observe a rare wildlife viewing event like this - October highway - morning encounter with an East Floodwood moose. I call him the “browsing adolescent”.  Intellectual for sure, but definitely an extrovert and a showboat! How many moose do you know who will pose for the camera? (music by Dustin O' Halloran- Opus 23)

Principles of Catholic Environmentalism: Because of the excesses associated with environmentalism in an increasingly pagan West, many Catholics shy away from formal involvement with the “environmental movement”. At the same time, Catholics are (or ought to be) by the very nature of their Faith deeply committed to responsible stewardship over nature, cultivating and even improving God’s patrimony for the common good. Read More

Don't stop reading yet...

For Reflection: Embrace suffering to foster a love for Creation

Rev. Bud Grant, Professor of Theology at St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA), not former Viking coach ed. proposes a solution to saving the planet that isn’t quite as marketable -- or simple -- as reduce, re-use and recycle.  His idea? Embrace suffering, out of love for both God’s creation and future generations.

 “I’m going to suggest suffering is an environmental virtue -- in fact, the environmental virtue,” said Fr. Grant, who specializes in environmental ethics.  In the opening keynote address entitled “Back to the Garden” at last Saturday’s diocesan Institute for Catholic Social Ministry in Peoria, IL, he outlined the “vast” scope of the crises threatening the earth, including global warming.  “If we’re going to save the planet, we have to start acting like doctors,” he said.  “We have a very sick patient,” he added, noting that 18 of the last 20 years were the warmest ever recorded. His prescription of “redistributive suffering” -- sacrificing our standard of living so that the impact of the environmental crises shifts away from the world’s poor and future generations -- is rooted in faith and family. Read More

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Monthly Round-Up: October's Collection Pt. 1(maybe)

Here's a sampling of some stuff I've been reading, watching, or listening to this month. October is dedicated to our Blessed Mother Mary and her intercessory prayers are the inspiration behind this post. 

If  you've never heard of Therese Borchard perhaps it's time you did.  She has a very insightful  blog entitled  Beyond Blue: a blog chronicling the daily spiritual journey of life with depression and anxiety. Now, before you go screaming into the night looking for your 24 hour ago sedated Halloween costume, give her site a try. Her
 writing defines what courage means. Not only does she provide  concise and relevant personal stories, she tackles head-on the supremely taboo issue of depression and  the spiritual life. I  admire her as writer because she's not out to hustle anyone, or prescribe the "quick fix" medication prescription that society seeks so often. Rather, she provides a more thoughtful and instructive approach knowing full well that  many people suffer from various forms of depression,
[ In my first blog post, I described my intention for Beyond Blue: "for it to become a comfortable place where we can pitch the unfair stigma of mental illness, expose our real selves, and lend each other an empathetic ear." ]. 
I think she's on to something here. What do you think? It's likely you know a family member or a friend who might be looking for some insights into the topic. Give them the opportunity to explore her site by sending this link. 

Source: CNS Photo/The Valley Catholic
Therese also writes a column for the Catholic News Service. That's where I kick off my monthly round-up with her short article found in the  entitled,  "Nonprofit group shows that real men pray the rosary". 
[“A few years ago, whenever someone mentioned the word “rosary,” I used to envision my grandmother at Mass, holding her crystal beads between her praying hands during the eucharistic prayers and throughout the second half of a church service. I certainly didn’t picture a businessman, with a cell phone in one hand, a wooden rosary in the other, telling his client to call back in a half hour because he’s one decade away from finishing the sorrowful mysteries. Apparently, I’m not the only person holding such stereotypes of the rosary.”] Read more.  
Source: The Catholic Spirit & The Northern Cross
 *** Shifting gears now.

Many folks should seriously pursue a better awareness and understanding of the opposing view.  Northern Cross editor Kyle Eller provides an opinion piece that dissects why people (especially vampire novelist Anne Rice) seemingly mis-understand or get confused over the teachings of the Catholic Church. His editorial is entitled, "Leaving church does not lead to happiness." 
["One of the best tests of honesty and intelligence is to look at how someone treats opposing views. A smart and honest person will understand and answer the strongest argument against his position. St. Thomas Aquinas is a great example — it’s sometimes said that the best-stated case against St. Thomas is the one he wrote before answering the objection. But men and women like St. Thomas are becoming an endangered species, even as our need for them increases. Some fail to understand an opposing view, either because of real limits to their intelligence or because they are unable to see past ideology or their passions. One hopes that few of the blowhards dominating our public discourse are genuine propagandists, deliberately distorting what others think, but I would almost prefer that to the many nowadays who prefer to avoid argument altogether and just call names."] Read more.
Perhaps we should call it: I'm fed up with the Church. I'll be much happier on my own, living life on my own terms!

Professor David Schultz teaches professional ethics, non-profit law, housing and economic policy, planning,  and public policy at Hamline University. He also provides a lot of hyper-pithy and creative commentary about Minnesota politics. You might know of him from his popular appearances on Twin City radio, PBS Almanac, and He also writes a local blog entitled "Schultz's Take".  I reference Prof. Schultz in this posting because I recently absorbed and reflected upon a paper of his that provocatively examines the dimension of morality, ethics, and "opposing views"  entitled Professional Ethics in a Postmodern Society. As a state employee who strives to integrate the values of service and mission -  (notable non-profit values) -  and economic sustainability (timber supply contribution to the state of MN), I definitely gravitate toward an academic discussion that involves questions about how one ought to think about values and how they can be applied in one's job.

Below is Prof. Schultz's abstract:

[The ethical values that guide the public, private, and nonprofit sectors have traditionally been seen as distinct from one another as well as from the values that guide personal relationships. However, recent trends in the economy and employment are blurring these distinctions. This commentary discusses these trends, contending that what is emerging is a new postmodern world of work. It is marked by a blurring of public and private lives as well as an increasingly fine line separating the three economic sectors. As a result, the ethical rules that apply to different facets of life and work are being challenged, necessitating a rethinking of the moral boundaries and rules governing professional behavior.]
Source: Public Integrity Issue: Volume 6, Number 4 / Fall 2004 
Alt. Source: Challenge to Minnesota ban on same-sex marriage: good law, bad politics Read More
Alt. Source: Justice Scalia: No Such Thing as a Catholic Judge Read More
Curiosity and the leafless tree? 

One ethical aspect that I personally think some of my co-workers "forget" is the importance of recognizing our unique role in natural resource stewardship. Our mission is truly for and about the citizens of the state of Minnesota -  it ought to avoid excessive catering to partisan and exclusive special interests. Although we often get caught up and self-involved with our work priorities, let's take a moment to listen...

More to follow... (maybe)... gabba, gabba hey!  Wait a minute Joey. We have some significant issues to discuss... yes,  no... ok, we both agree that we don't like Communism, but wait- are you up there with the Father? 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exploring the Theory Behind Autumn Leaf Color Variation: Europe vs USA

The question is a simple one. Why Are Autumn Leaves Red in America and Yellow in Europe?

Following an ant on maple leaves... from Prince Turtle on Vimeo.
["Walking outdoors in the fall, the splendidly colorful leaves adorning the trees are a delight to the eye. In Europe these autumn leaves are mostly yellow, while the United States and East Asia boast lustrous red foliage. But why is it that there are such differences in autumnal hues around the world? A new theory provided by Prof. Simcha Lev-Yadun of the Department of Science Education- Biology at the University of Haifa-Oranim and Prof. Jarmo Holopainen of the University of Kuopio in Finland and published in the Journal New Phytologist proposes taking a step 35 million years back to solve the color mystery".] Read More
On a local level Linda Radimecky, Fort Snelling State Park naturalist for the MN DNR poses another typical fall question: 
Q: Why do trees change color in the fall and what determines if we have a good display on a given year?  
 A: Those magnificent colors you see in the fall are actually there all summer, it's just you can't see them because of the green chlorophyll in the leaves. As our days get shorter and the temperatures cool down, trees cease green chlorophyll production, causing the yellow chlorophyll to show. Any sugars trapped in the leaf react with each other in the presence of sunlight to form the reds and oranges - thus the more sun, the more brilliant the colors. The best weather conditions are the same ones we enjoy in the fall - bright, cool days and chilly but not freezing nights. The slightest change - too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry - can slow the process or cause trees to lose their leaves before they change color. 
Minnesota is fortunate to have many excellent places to view the changing season, from the northern hardwood forests along the North Shore to the prairie regions of the state. To get the latest information on when and where the fall colors are expected to be at their peak, check out the DNR's website.] Read More

tamaracks by *collectiveone on deviantART

In light of the autumnal mysteries discussed above, let's try to recognize a song for the season.  Take a listen to the vid below. See if you can guess who the references might be. I'll give you a hint, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by _________; not the Right Banke, but the__________ who wrote Walk Away R_________; and the M's & the P's who sang _________ ; also covered in glorious punk glee by the Ramones!

What's really special about this song fellow hipsters is the catchy, repetitive drumming pattern blended in with great 60's pop music samples and a killer lyric that would make George Harrison proud. Oh wait a minute now, is it about The Fall of Joy Division?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Retreat Visuals: Dealing With Loss and Moving

The End, by Mark Strand

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight, Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beyond the Surf Pt.2: Getting Closer to Florida's Heartbeat

Declared a National Natural Monument in 1964, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a splendid example of Florida’s native ecosystem diversity. Major vegetation communities include the pine flatwood forests, wet prairies, central marsh wetlands, lettuce lakes, sawgrass & pond cypress wet forests and... perhaps most importantly, North America's largest intact stand of bald cypress wet forest. What follows is a wee bit of resource links to pictures, websites, and music you might find interesting:

Image hosted by
by HarborStar

In southwestern Florida in the beginning of the century, the strands of bald cypress extended miles and miles. In those virgin bald cypress stands were giants towering 130 feet, with girths of 25 feet -- an awesome sight before the onslaught of the lumbermen in the 1920's. A remnant of that virgin forest, now the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a veritable living museum piece, escaped the destruction in the nick of time just as the cutting crews were coming upon it. It is now the largest remaining stand of virgin bald cypress in the country... The Acquisition and Development of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 1952-1967 by Carl W. Buchheister

Descriptions taken from the Audubon Center self guided tour.

The roots of the strangler fig (Ficus aurea) left are often thought to be vines growing on a host tree. Strangler figs can grow like a normal tree from the ground up; they also may start high up in another tree and send roots down to the ground. As the roots grow, they wrap around the host tree, sometimes killing it. At Corkscrew, frost limits strangler fig growth and they do not kill their host trees. The fig fruit is a favorite of pileated woodpeckers.

At least twelve species of air plants (Tillandsia sppright are found within the swamp sanctuary, each one related to the pineapple. All of them epiphytes, or plants that grow on other plants without the aid of soil, but they are not parasites, doing no harm to the host tree. Nutrients are taken from falling organic debris and rainfall trapped by the plant. Several Corkscrew Sanctuary epiphytes are on the State Protected Plant List as endangered or threatened.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Beyond the Surf or A Whole Lotta Hot Tub- Pt. 1

Normally a vacation to southern Florida in February means warm temperatures, sunny skies, and peaceful breezes on the beach right? This year turned out be vastly different. Daytime temperatures struggled to reach the 70's while chilly evenings resembled many a autumn night in Northern Minnesota. It's kind of hilarious, but spending a week in Naples resulted in listening to several local and unexpected rants about the southern weather anomalie. Imagine that in Gator country?

Of course, let's not forget that a cool weather pattern means zero chance of encountering Florida mosquitos not to mention the abundant, creepy-crawly tropical insects and amphibians.

Despite our base camp location of brazenly developed retirement havens - complete with dreamy, manicured golf courses - I am amazed at the amount of outdoor opportunties still available in Southern Florida. Ya'll know it, places like beaches, parks, nature preserves, museums, hiking, canoeing, fishing, rookeries, swamps... it's all here in most spectacular wonder!

Now I'm no photographer of taste, but I was easily lured into taking pictures at will, hoping in every way that I at least captured a sense of wonder for my own personal Florida. An "A" for effort is my motto... Not all of these photos are mine though. I support family photo-sharing so thanks to my parents for a contributing a few. Look for a few additional photo logs to come...

When quizzed I will tell you that one of my main objectives for a vacation is to strive for relaxation and peaceful communion with Christ. I am very grateful for finding that at San Marco Church on the Island. Thanks and prayers for a special guest- Fr. Freund! Still, I couldn't help but spent a fair amount of time traveling around the region with my Dad. I'm glad he shares my passion for exploration. Early on in the trip we spent some time exploring things like Dania Beach and Pier, Retro-Car Shows, and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). My mother gets full credit for taking us to a very special restaurant called "Cracklin Jack's" a taste of the Everglades! I chose their andouille sausage served over dirty rice w/sauteed onions, peppers, mushroom, and garlic!

Although a sauna would have been more appropriate, most nights in FLA concluded with a warming hot-spa experience! Another reason to be grateful for family.

A Christain community of faith, striving to be closer to God.
Florida Catholic of Venice
Diocese of Venice 1984-2009

Sandy beaches, fishing, and ethnic diversity w/out the crowds.... especially when the temps hover around the mid-60's.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the passion of fishing and why guys spend thousands of dollars on gear, tackle, boats, etc. Includes art, film, and photography exhibits.

Seafood combos, frog legs, grouper, red meat, mahi,mahi, pulled pork, catfish, clam, gator tail!

Song of the Night:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Folks Just Simply Love Forests or... What's Up With Collaboratives These Days

On occasion people ask me to post about what it’s like being a forester with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR). One reason is that Northern MN folks just simply love trees and forests! There’s also a sincere and genuine interest in how foresters helps manage, sustain, and restore our beautiful forests, especially those found in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. Here’s a short excerpt from a recent MN DNR newsletter that I came cross last month showcasing improvements we are making with integrating diverse and wide-ranging approaches to managing our forests despite the recent challenges of climate change, forest pests, and invasive species, and a economic downturn.

[A group of 35 MN DNR managers and staff met recently to share progress on interdisciplinary forest management coordination and to identify strategies for continued progress. The group included commissioners; division directors, and regional and area managers from Forestry, Ecological Resources/Waters, and Fish and Wildlife; regional directors; and OMBS staff involved in forest management coordination. Regional and area staff presented updates on “Adaptive Forest Management Projects.” These projects were designed to improve the DNR’s ability to integrate multiple forest management objectives, monitor progress, and course correct when management practices are not effective in the face of change.

Michelle Martin, profiled approaches for integrating oak management and rare species conservation in a unique blufflands site in southeast Minnesota. Steve Piepgras, spoke about silvicultural treatments to diversify aspen stands for improved wildlife habitat and timber value while responding to new biomass markets. Bill Schnell discussed the Manitou Collaborative on the North Shore Highlands and its innovative work to diversify forest stands and restore conifers. Erik Thorson presented alternative practices to improve regeneration of jack pine.

Commissioners and division directors noted staff enterprise in tackling complex issues, trying new approaches, and using monitoring and evaluation to learn and adapt. Regional managers and directors then presented success stories in broader interdisciplinary coordination. The meeting wrapped up with discussion of continued challenges – issues requiring greater policy and management direction. These included high conservation value forests, school trust land issues, and roles and responsibilities for coordination among disciplines and Central Office, regional, and area staff.]

One of the major focus points of my position has been my involvement with the Manitou Collaborative and its Ecological Silviculture Patch Project. Like most forest management projects, it's taken a few years just to get the treatments setup, to coordinate objectives and design management prescriptions, and to offer timber sales to on auction. Fortunately we've made it this far, but it's going to take several decades before we truly see the fruits of our labor. Below is a summary of the project. By no means does this capture all of the subtle nuances involved with forest management, but hopefully it will give the reader a little insight into how we integrate ecology with silviculture, and how we might adapt to future changes in the environment.

Field Evaluations:
MN DNR Divisions of Forestry, Wildlife, Ecological Resources, Fisheries, and Office of Management and Budget.
Manitou Collaborative Partners include The Nature Conservancy, USFS-Superior National Forest, Lake Co. Land Department, MN DNR, MN Forest Resource Council-NE Landscape, and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.

Landscape Context:

The forest area is located within the Manitou Collaborative in the Arrowhead-Lake Superior region of Northeastern Minnesota just west of the small community of Cramer, MN.
The objective is to regenerate more than 70% of the mesic mixed forest within the designated patch back to a young, vegetative growth stage. Over several decades, plans are to develop much of the area into a multi-age mixed conifer forest using a variety of silvicultural techniques. The MN DNR stands will be managed along with 65 acres of USFS land. Stands are located within a designated Minnesota County Biological Site (MCBS) ranked as Moderate in biodiversity. This project is consistent with overall direction provided by the NE MN MFRC Landscape Committee and MN DNR's North Shore Sustainable Forest Resource Management Plan (SFRMP). Briefly:

  • Move cover type composition closer to the range of cover type composition that historically occurred. Maintain/increase patch size.
  • Provide a representation of growth stages that historically occurred.
  • Maintain/increase species, age and structural diversity.
  • Increase long lived conifers (white pine/white cedar) both as a cover type and a within stand component.

Past Management Practices:
Second growth forest in a relatively undisturbed condition. A few scattered, old white pine or white cedar stumps present. No recent management activity observed.

Present Conditions: (general composition and structure):
The forested area is dominated by large diameter paper birch and quaking aspen (9-15”dbh). Additional species present include balsam fir, white spruce, black spruce, red maple, and white cedar. Basal area range from 40-130 sq. ft/acre. The paper birch is considered a high-risk species due to its old age, top-dieback, and overall stand decline. Coarse woody debris (CWD) and snags are present in average numbers. The woody understory is comprised of moderate to heavy density shrub species along with many balsam fir seedlings. Only a few white pine seedlings are present per acre.

  • Age of stands = 70-90 years old but varies considerably depending on the location within a stand and the topographical aspect.
  • Growth Stage = mature 
  • Native Plant Community Classification = Fire Dependent Northern Mesic Mixed Forest.
  • Timber Volumes = Quaking Aspen 12-20 cds/acre; Paper Birch-9-12 cds/acre; White Spruce 4 cds/acre; Balsam Fir 1.5 cds/acre; White Cedar 1 cds/acre; Red Maple 0.2 cds/acre; Black Spruce 0.5 cds/acre, and Black Ash 0.1 cds/acre.
  • Woody Regeneration (0.1-5”dbh) = Balsam Fir 1180 trees/ac; White Spruce 30 trees/ac; White Cedar 20 trees/ac; Black Ash 15 trees/ac; Red Maple 5 trees/ac; White Pine 5 trees/ac (estimate).
Desired Future Stand Conditions:
Regenerate 70% of the patch to a young growth stage while maintaining and/or enhancing significant components of the mature growth stage and its unique characteristics. Overtime, manage the patch as a mixed conifer-hardwood stand while restoring and increasing the presence of white spruce, white pine, and white cedar tree species. Stand structural diversity will be promoted through a series of actions including retention and protection of:

  • Scattered and clump reserve areas both outside and adjacent to the harvest areas. These will serve primarily as a source of desirable conifer seed.
  • Within stand tree species diversity including mature paper birch, quaking aspen, spruce, white pine, white cedar, black ash, and red maple.
  • Fine and coarse woody debris, snags, and downed logs.
  • Native Plant Community (NPC) functionality including intact remnants of the herbaceous layer.
Silvicultural Prescription:
Cutting Blocks A and C: Shelterwood w/Reserves (see native plant community map below). Harvest and full tree skid paper birch and quaking aspen to a residual basal area of 40 sq. ft/acre. Block A requires full tree skidding of all harvested trees during dry summer or fall conditions to help reduce the woody shrub component, and to help scarify and expose the mineral soil layer. Block C will be frozen ground harvesting only. Reserve hardwood tree species including quaking aspen and paper birch will be evenly spaced throughout the harvest area. Additional reserve species include white and black spruce, white cedar, red maple, black ash, white pine, and all non-hazardous snags. Logging slash will be piled at designated landings. Some fine woody debris (FWD) will be re-distributed across the site. Logging operators are to leave at least 5 sound downed logs/acre (includes current CWD existing onsite). All temporary water drainages will be kept free of logging residue. Refer to MN DNR Forestry timber sale permit #B010605 for additional information.

Blocks B and D: Seed Tree w/Reserves (see native plant community map below). Harvest and full tree skid paper birch and quaking aspen . Full tree skidding during frozen ground harvest conditions only. Reserve hardwood species includes 6-12 (9-15”dbh) quaking aspen /acre (Block B) and 4-6 (9-15”dbh) quaking aspen or paper birch/acre (Block D) throughout the site. Additional reserve species includes white and black spruce, white cedar, red maple, black ash, white pine, and all non-hazardous snags. Logging slash will be piled at designated landings. Some FWD will be re-distributed across the site. Logging operators are to leave at least 5 sound downed lsound downed logs/acre (includes current CWD existing onsite). All temporary water drainages will be kept free of logging residue. Refer to MN DNR Forestry timber sale permit #B010605 for additional information.

Soon after harvest a regeneration check will be undertaken to assess conifer tree species presence and stocking. Depending on the regeneration check outcomes and further Manitou Collaborative discussions, mechanical site preparation methods will be evaluated. Planting contracts will also be initiated and crews will be instructed to plant conifer species in harvested areas. Specific planting spots will be located in scarified areas and in inclusions containing minimal  hardwood sprouting. Other portions of the harvested site will focus on natural regeneration of hardwood species. All future planted white pine and white cedar will be protected from animal herbivory at least 5 years after planting. At year 3 post-harvest, the harvested area will be evaluated for a mechanical spot release of planted conifers. Over time, the developing stands will be scheduled for an intermediate harvest treatment.

Native Plant Communities and Harvest Treatments in the Manitou Patch – Ecological Silviculture Project (State Land)

Integrated Ecological and Silvicultural Considerations:

Get the right species on the right sites
The Manitou Collaborative certainly takes advantage of ecological principles and silvicultural interpretations. Recent fieldwork by MN DNR staff has confirmed the NPC class for all the vegetation within the patch project. Historical data indicates that fire dependent mesic forests were composed of a broader and more mixed composition of conifer species than currently present in the landscape. Although quaking aspen and paper birch tree species are suitable in this area, the desire for more long-lived conifers like white pine and white cedar is a specific outcome of this project. Tree species suitability tables indicate that white pine, white cedar, and white spruce all rank good to outstanding in their ability to compete with other plants in the community. Therefore, we are confident that these species can be restored and will grow into large, mature trees which will provide a multitude of benefits while contributing to future biological diversity and wood products.

Ensure future management options
Differing societal needs for wood products, potential climate change, and threats from invasive species and insects all play a role in the future composition of the forests. By incorporating the full range of silvicultural activities through the vegetation growth stages over time (young to old), we can have greater confidence in meeting the desire for a variety of tree species, habitat conditions, and stand structural conditions rather than simply growing forests to economic rotation and harvesting most or all of the trees in one activity. This suite of actions may include planting, site scarification, improvement techniques like hand release of target species, and intermediate harvests like thinning or variable density spacing. Specifically managing for diversity and complexity puts us in a better position to respond to change.

Treatment design must link biological legacy and treated area
Biological legacies usually involve reserving portions of intact forest or representations of uncommon growth stages. Forest ecologists define biological legacies “as the organisms, organic matter (including structures), and biologically created patterns that persist from the pre-disturbance ecosystem and influence recovery processes in the post-disturbance ecosystem (Frankin et al 2000). Legacies occur in varied form and densities, depending upon the nature of both the disturbance and the forest ecosystem.” Specific efforts went into determining and locating legacies within the patch project and we focused on leaving elements that provide significant purpose and function. These include spruce conifer seed trees, dying and standing dead trees, fine woody debris, advanced understory regeneration of desirable species, and clumped islands of older growth stages FDn43b2 plant community. Leaving these in a diverse spatial configuration throughout the site ensures the opportunity for herbaceous plants to re-colonize the site and maintains the ecological integrity of biological processes of growth and decay.

Don’t compromise ecological function
We should always ask fundamental questions about our treatment prescriptions.
  • Will the sale design ensure adequate organic nutrient pools for regenerating trees?
  • Will the sale design ensure adequate fine and coarse woody debris onsite
  • Will the sale design, equipment, or season of operation negatively impact the site hydrology and riparian zone function?
  • Will sale activity minimize the release of undesirable seed banks? Will post harvest activity promote invasion of exotic species?
Forest Health Considerations:
Most of the paper birch type is overmature from a commercial standpoint. The trees have significant birch decline and top dieback and should be harversted to capture and further mortality. However, pure paper birch cover types lend themselves to shelterwood harvests and residual trees will provide high shade for planted and naturally regenerating understory conifers. Many of the resdual trees will die in the next 5-10 years thereby provide increasing light availability for understory-planted conifers, Some are dead already. Aspen is also mature and showing evidence of phellinus, hypoxylon canker, and top dieback. Mature balsam fir trees are scattered throughout and have likely seen periodic spruce budworm outbreaks in the past. All of the balsam fir will be harvested, but established and newly developing seedlings and saplings continue to pose budworm forest health concern. For more information about these species and related insect and disease issues click here.

Wildlife Habitat Considerations:
From a wildlife perspective, this is a course scale habitat management project which will provide more long term benefit to nongame species than the traditional game species. The initial harvest of the project site will improve moose browse conditions and long term may provide some thermal cover benefits particularly along the periphery and adjacent to suitable riparian habitats for moose. Refer to page 168 in Tomorrow’s Habitat: Forest-Upland Coniferous is listed as a Key Habitat for Species in Greatest Conservation Need within the North Shore Highlands Subsection. An active goshawk nest site is located in Block A. Nest protection has been incorporated into the sale design through DNR Forestry’s Supplemental Terms and Conditions Permit to Cut. In general, the silviculture prescriptions attempt to meet habitat preferred by the goshawk. Refer to the DNR Northern Goshawk Management Considerations. Lessard-Sams funding has been approved for planting blocks A and B. Funding for planting this site is just the initial phase. Long term, additional funding will be required for plant protection to reduce browse damage and selective hand release to maintain/improve within stand diversity. Forestry has done a good job of retaining reserve/legacy patches within the harvest area which adds to the diversity of the patch. Retaining a commercially viable production of forest products is also a desired outcome, particularly in regards to the trust fund status of this land.

Monitoring Plan:
Currently being overseen by Manitou Collaborative Partner- The Nature Conservancy... more on this as the trees grow and life unfolds.

The famous writer and itinerant outdoors conservationist Aldo Leopold sums up a poignant aspect of our work:
"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other. The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the co-operations. You can regulate them—cautiously—but not abolish them.

The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."

-Round River pp 145-146