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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary

For more than a century, Saint Paul residents have known Trout Brook Valley as nothing more than a noisy, polluted rail yard. Located just north of downtown Saint Paul, the valley was a once a source of life to the Mdewakanton Dakota, providing important natural resources like maple sugar, wild rice, and fish. It was home to bear, fox, bison, and 600 year old trees. European settlers described the river, which flowed from Lake McCarrons to the Mississippi, as “picturesque a ravine as one can find this side of the Rockies.” 

Children playing at Trout Brook circa 1875
As Minnesota’s population boomed in the mid-1800s, the valley’s hills were leveled and it’s streams and marshes were filled in to make way for a railroad into downtown Saint Paul. By the 1950s, Trout Brook’s crystal clear waters were a distant memory for Saint Paulites, buried almost completely underground and diverted through a storm sewer. The neighborhoods connection to the natural environment was completely lost.
Until now, that is! Thanks to concerned citizens and generous donations, Trout Brook once again sees the light of day, this time in the form of the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary. The Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department has purchased approximately 42 acres west of I-35E, north of Cayuga Avenue and south of Norpac Road; the project is already around 75 percent complete. A grand opening is scheduled for spring 2015. To date, the stream bed and wetlands have been restored, invasive plant species removed and native flowers, grasses, and trees have been planted. Trails, overlooks, seating, and restroom facilities have already been developed.  The sanctuary will eventually connect Saint Paul’s North End community to downtown via an extension of the Gateway Trail, which is scheduled for completion in fall 2016.

View of downtown Saint Paul from Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary
Laura H., a North End resident, recently described her first experience visiting the new park with her son: “When I walked down the path, I had my head down. When I looked up, I experienced the most beautiful sight with all my senses. Downtown in the distance, wonderful natural space all around, birds frolicking in the stream, and although it was rush hour and I-35E construction is going on, I could hardly hear the traffic in the close distance. My seven year old son really enjoyed sitting on the benches and leaning over the bridges to inspect the water. As he was sitting in the shade on one of the benches, he said ‘I bet there is a lot of wildlife that lives down here’.  On our way back we saw two turkeys and an alert Buck in the brush. We look forward to years of memories in this wonderful natural space. It is exactly what our community needed.”

Photo of a Monarch butterfly and caterpillar taken during a nature survey in July 2014
Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary’s main parking lot is located at 1200 Jackson Street on the north east corner of Maryland Avenue and Jackson Street. Pedestrian entrances are on the west side of the park at Maryland Avenue, Rose Avenue, Geranium Avenue, Magnolia Avenue, and Jenks Avenue, with future entrances at Jackson Street and Cayuga Avenue.

Getting out in Nature at the Sun Ray Library

Submitted by Council President Kathy Lantry

For those of you who haven’t been over to the Sun Ray Library in a while, I am happy to report that the renovation project is well underway and the neighborhood is looking forward to the grand opening celebration in October.  The library has always been a great resource for the neighborhood, but this new space will offer many other opportunities for learning beyond the wonderful collection of books and DVDs that have been available in the past.

One of these wonderful opportunities is a new community engagement program launched by the Children and Nature Network in partnership with the Saint Paul Public Library and the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation.  The Sun Ray Green Library Project will connect natural elements throughout the indoor and outdoor areas of the library that promote reading and English language learning through experiential learning activities. 

The project will also engage the Sun Ray community in creating green spaces at the library and the adjacent Conway Park.  An outdoor reading garden, wild-life friendly plantings, rain gardens, and dozens of newly planted trees will provide improved connections between the library and the park while encouraging outdoor play and learning for children.

Youth and young adults from the community will be trained as “Natural Leaders” and will provide Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) events at the library that engage families in hands-on environmental learning and literacy activities.  The library will make available nature backpacks, kits that families can check out to do their own outdoor exploration.  There also will be training and resources for library staff and community volunteers to keep these programs going for many years to come.

Since its founding in 2006, the Children and Nature Network has been advocating for children, families, and communities to enhance health and well-being through direct experiences in nature.  They provide a wide range of research and user-friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities.  Funding for the Sun Ray Green Library Project has been provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program.

I am excited to welcome this program to the neighborhood and look forward to seeing everyone at the newly renovated Sun Ray Library in October.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dress Up, Boogie Down, and Download Free Music #BecauseOfTheLibrary

Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Avenue

July 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m.  – Wear crazy pants and listen to Lucy Michelle

August 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Wear crazy shoes/socks and listen to Koo Koo Kanga Roo

August 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Wear crazy outfits and listen to Ticket to Brasil

Saint Paul Public Library invites kids of all ages to dress up and enjoy some free music and fun. We’ll have crafts, a photo booth, and other family-friendly activities on site. Bring a picnic dinner or grab some food at the Sizzling Wagon food truck. In the event of rain, events will be moved inside.
Jack White, Lazaretto
With a Saint Paul Public Library card, download five free songs every week (that are yours to keep ) from the Freegal web catalog, or use a Freegal app. The service features music videos, albums, and over a million songs in hundreds of genres, from Caribbean to choral, big band to black metal, and rock to R&B. Stay current with lists of the most popular albums, songs, and videos in the U.S. and at Saint Paul Public Library. According to Freegal, Jack White is having a moment in Saint Paul.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Como Zoo Helping Preserve One Of The World’s Rarest Amphibians

A toad’ally awesome thing is happening at Como Zoo. As part of Como Zoo’s behind-the-scenes species preservation efforts,  Wyoming Toad tadpoles have been placed in oxygenated water, shipped overnight and were released on June 18, near the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge outside Laramie, Wyoming. This 1.5 ounce toad is classified as one of the four critically endangered amphibians found in North America and one of the rarest in the world.  Beyond sending tadpoles back to the wild, Bree Barney , Zookeeper will be going to Laramie, WY on July 20 and stay through the 26th to research the progress and conservation of this species in it’s natural habitat. Bree will be conducting surveys of land and toads to see progress and endangered state.

Native to the Laramie Basin in Wyoming, this toad was placed on the endangered species list in 1984, and was feared to be extinct. Researchers located the last surviving toads near Lake Mortenson in the late eighties, and by 1996 began an aggressive species preservation plan to save the toad. Como Zoo has joined forces with eight other zoos including the Kansas City and Detroit Zoos as partners in a captive breeding program that now reintroduces Wyoming tadpoles and toads to the wild every year.

As part of the project, Como received adult Wyoming toads that now live in a specially retrofitted room in Como’s Animal Support Building. “The Wyoming toads play an important part in Como’s mission. Since these projects usually go on behind the scenes, people are often surprised to hear how involved Como Zoo is in species preservation,” says Michelle Furrer, Como Campus Director. “But Como Zoo, along with many other zoos, are always striving to make a difference in conservation.’’

To be eligible to participate in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) each institution must meet certain criteria. The four criteria relevant to preventive medicine husbandry and space allotment include the following:

1) Candidate must isolate Wyoming toads from other amphibians in the collection through designated biosecure housing and quarantine.
2) Candidate must commit space for at least four age cohorts totaling 20-40 toads, breeding transfers and pre-release tadpole holding.
3) Candidate must receive USFWS Endangered Species permit to acquire the federally listed toad prior to participation in the SSP.
4) Candidate must comply with the service and SSP guidelines for the recovery program.

It’s a privilege for an institution to be able to participate in species recovery efforts. It comes with much responsibility, and often an additional investment in resources including additional staff and/or construction of biosecure facilities. A generous grant from the Frog Crossing Foundation allowed Como Friends, the nonprofit partner of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, to provide the retrofitting necessary to give Como Zoo’s new Wyoming toads the optimal environmental controls, a hibernation chamber critical to stimulate the toads’ reproductive cycle, and additional AZA staff training to help ensure the success of this species preservation project.
For more information on the Wyoming Toad visit:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cultural STAR Program Turns 20

Almost every night of the summer you can partake in great events like the Ordway’s Summer Dance Series, Music in Mears, Irish Fair of Minnesota, or catch fantastic festivals like the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Besides bringing people together, and celebrating the few shorts months of summer we have, what do all these shows have in common? These fantastic events attract thousands of people to enjoy the culture and vibrancy of Saint Paul and have received funding from the city’s Cultural STAR Program.
Photo credit: Chris McDuffie
The Cultural STAR program was created to promote economic development growth through providing funding to develop and improve cultural facilities, cultural organizations and to attract audiences to events in Saint Paul. Created in 1994, this program has strengthened monumental art institutions while bringing together acts, shows and galleries large and small. In the program’s inaugural year, the city supported the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Penumbra Theatre Company, Inc., construction of a parking facility at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and improvements to arts and culture institutions.

Today, the Cultural STAR program not only brings in great acts to play downtown, it provides opportunities for musicians to learn from world-class acts at Twin Cities Bass Camp or from the Grammy Foundation, or to celebrate a homecoming show with locals Garrison Keillor and the tales of Lake Wobegon. This summer has more great shows coming with the 2014 Selby Ave JazzFest, Lowertown Guitar Festival 2014,and the Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival.

Cultural STAR awards are made through two funding rounds annually. For more information about the program, visit

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stay Informed with Social Media

Social media lets us share stories, events, photos, and stay in touch with friends and family across the world. It can also be a great tool to stay informed and prepare your family and you before an emergency.

If you’re on social media, check FEMA’s Get Ready campaign on Facebook or Twitter. Right now you can see their featured information on lightning or see tips to #BeatTheHeat this summer.

Did you know that FEMA has YouTube as well? You can see great preparedness videos like “The Day Before series or watch important messages related to preparation or recovery efforts. If you’re interested in what FEMA is doing in the community, follow them on Facebook or Twitter @femaregion5.

It’s also important to follow the National Weather Service (NWS) on Twitter, @NWS or @NWSTwinCities , not only can you stay informed, but you can share your damage or weather pictures directly with the NWS.

Make sure to stay informed locally with videos from the Ramsey County Emergency Management Department - Meet Disaster and Preparedness, and Get Ready Gopher or connect directly with our city. Check out Saint Paul’s Facebook for up to date information on what’s happening in The Most Livable City in America.

Local Social Media Resources:

· @sppdPIO - Official Twitter page of the Saint Paul Police Department. Additionally, you can find each police district (Western, Central, Eastern, Headquarters) on Facebook as well.

· @StPaulFireDept - See stories, videos, messages and other information from the offical Saint Paul Fire Department twitter handle.

· @stpaulpublicw - Get updates on current activities, road closures, snow emergencies, street sweeping, tree removal, debris cleanup and much more from Saint Paul Public Works.

· @cityofsaintpaul - Offers updates and resources on activites, closures and emergencies across the city.

· @SaintPaulParks - Check for updates on current Parks and Recreation activities, closures, and more.

These great resources will not only keep you informed and prepared but help you in the recovery phase as well. So, now that you know what’s available, see which of these options you “Like” to help you #BePrepared.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Saint Paul Summer Fun - Video Roundup

With summer in full swing, the city’s Communications Service staff has compiled a list of things to do and places to see in Saint Paul! Check out some great videos on local hot spots:

Take a tour of all four of our great swim facilities in Saint Paul, including the recently renovated Como Pool. Please visit for current hours and admission prices.

Como Zoo and Conservatory has a ton of great activities and events all summer long.

And, while visiting the zoo, don’t forget to check out the still relatively new Gorilla Forest exhibit. 

And to top it all off, go for a ride on the historic, and now century old, Cafesjian’s Carousel.  

The Saint Paul Park & Recreation Centers, Libraries and schools offer many different and fun programs and events for all ages throughout the summer.

The City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Public Schools have created six simple steps to keep children active and learning all summer long. It's called the Summer Countdown...

Finally, you can check out Saint Paul’s latest ride, the Green Line!

For these and other great videos on the city of Saint Paul, click here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Develop your small business with the CERT program

Are you looking for help with your small business? The Central CERT Certification Program has partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) to host a series of events for small, Twin Cities businesses interested in credit opportunities for development. 

The first part of the series, “Expanding Access to Credit: The Possibilities Part I”, had a large number of small businesses, community development organizations, and local construction firms participating, discussing, and partnering to improve their businesses. Through addressing financial challenges small businesses face when working on public projects.

The second part of the series, “Expanding Access to Credit: The Possibilities Part II” will bring together local businesses, community partners, and financial institutions to help connect and educate. Local institutions will staff informational booths where small businesses will have an opportunity to learn about supportive programs.  

Part II will be held Tuesday, July 29 at 3:00 p.m. at the National Association of Minority Contractor Resource Center (located in the First Covenant Church), 810 South 7th Street, in Minneapolis.
For more information, please call the City of Saint Paul’s Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department at (651) 266-8900.  


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Celebrate a safe, happy 4th of July with your dog

Family gatherings, cook outs, parades and fireworks are just around the corner with the 4th of July fast approaching. Unfortunately, Independence Day festivities result in a rise in intakes for Animal Control Agencies around the county. Family gatherings sometimes result in gates left open. Fireworks and other loud noises can startle dogs and send them searching for a hiding place. Parades and other crowded events can make nice dogs fearful and overwhelmed, sometimes leading to bites.

Here are a few tips to make sure you and your dog have a great July 4:

·    Remind everyone in the family to close any gate doors your property may have. Double check to make sure it’s latched properly!

·    Leave your dog at home if you go to crowded events.

·    If your dog is outside and fireworks start in the neighborhood, bring your dog inside right away.

·    If you have your dog on a tether, make sure it can’t reach the street, sidewalk, or your neighbor’s property. Make sure the tether and the dog’s collar are strong enough to prevent problems.

·    Purchase identification with the dog’s name and your phone number on it if you don’t have one already.

·    Make sure your dog is wearing identification: keep your Saint Paul Dog License and Rabies Tags on your dog’s collar at all times. (Need to license your dog? Call Animal Control for information: 651-266-1100).

·    Check with your dog’s microchip company to make sure they have your current contact information.

The smells, sights, and sounds of the 4th of July can be overwhelming and chaotic for your family’s best friend.  Make sure to stay safe, and be aware, so you and your pet can enjoy a great holiday together.