Litter Begone!

If you hate litter, as most of us Master Naturalist types do, here’s an opportunity to make a difference!

This Saturday, October 9, meet at the gazebo at the 700 Downing Pines Rd. entrance to Restoration Park in West Monroe at 7 a.m. That’s right in front of the Ouachita Green office.

Before: Fallen trees are perfect snares for trash coming downstream.

Wear work gloves and waterproof boots and bring a trash picker if you have one. We hope to have some extras borrowed from Friends of Black Bayou; however, a lot can be done with gloves. LMN-NE will provide trash bags.

A pocket knife or pen knife is also useful for cutting out trash entangled in roots or cutting plastic that is partly buried.

After: The trash is “in the bag.” What a gratifying difference!

LMN-NE has taken on the task of clearing litter from “Jungle River,” which runs through Restoration Park. The Paxtons have done the bulk of the work so far. This is an excellent opportunity for many more of us to get involved.

Jungle River is a delight. Willows and taro plants line its banks. It is home to native birds, amphibians and insects, and a variety of other critters leave their tracks in the soft banks.

Jungle River is perfect habitat for this Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata).

The river has a natural gravel bed and, in fact, the park was once an industrially mined gravel pit. Then it became a garbage dump, so today the trash that mars its beauty is a mix of new and old–new brought into the park from it’s much larger drainage area and old that resurfaces after every heavy rain.

We’re planning to do another litter pick from kayaks at Black Bayou Lake later this month or in November. For those who are certified, these are great opportunities to do your required volunteer hours.

BTW, I will not be able to participate this time. The Paxtons are in charge of this event and will have a sign-in form that constitutes a liability waiver, as is our practice.

Note: Photos in the post are by Charles & Kim Paxton.

3rd Quarter Meeting

Join us Sunday afternoon, September 26, in beautiful Kiroli Park, 820 Kiroli Road, West Monroe, La. Pick and choose your level of participation from the following items.

2 p.m. Hike – Park your car in the vicinity of shelter 6, which is the first picnic shelter on the left side of the road just past the guard shack at the entrance. We will gather near the entrance to the Conservatory, which is right across the road.

Key: #6 = shelter 6. #2 = Conservatory. Yellow = Outer Trail. Blue = Garden Trail.

Two trails begin right next to the Conservatory. My plan is to head down the Outer Trail (yellow on the map), then switch to the Garden Trail (blue) where they intersect at the end of Azalea Hill. We’ll continue on to the Covered Bridge, then return via the Garden Trail.

As will be our standard operating practice from now on, we’ll begin the hike with a brief safety orientation and all will be asked to sign our waiver of liability sign-in sheet.

3:30 p.m. Guest speaker: Stuart Hodnett – Our meeting will begin in Shelter 6 with our usual educational guest speaker. Our own Stuart Hodnett is now the Director of West Monroe Parks & Recreation, and he will speak to us about the parks system. This will include information about Restoration Park, another wonderful asset in West Monroe we have visited and will visit again.

4 p.m. Business Meeting – I always say “short” but I have to be honest and admit sometimes it goes over 30 minutes! Nevertheless, we should be finished by 4:45 p.m.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries (Arisaema triphyllum) from a 2018 visit to Kiroli Park.

That’s it, folks! Don’t forget that the charge to enter Kiroli Park is $1 per person. That’s a very modest fee to help maintain a wonderful park. One of the questions I want to ask Stuart is, How many annual visitors does Kiroli Park have? I’m sure it is a pretty high number.

We will soon have information regarding litter pick-up opportunities.

Updates

Trying to plan certification workshops and other events for the fall has been frustrating to say the least. Right now, it is clear we are safest when we are outdoors. That suits this Naturalist pretty much! So here are some reminders.

A big un’ going for a stroll behind Headquarters in the Tensas River NWR. Photo by BJK.

Tensas River NWR with Roselie Overby – Oct. 10, 2-3:30 p.m. We will meet at Refuge headquarters and caravan to a few places. This is Roselie’s certification project and our first experiential project. Can’t wait!

Fall Celebration – Oct. 16, 10-2. We will have tables outdoors. Our member Anne Frazer will have a climate change-focused table next to ours. We have two beautiful brochures plus business cards to hand out, thanks to Kim Paxton. We will have our t-shirts for sale and other good stuff. Who can help? Please let me know.

The Molicy Unit with Kelby Ouchley – Nov. 13, time TBA but a.m. for sure. As many of you know, this natural area exists in large part due to Kelby. He’s going to do a “show and tell” hike with us at the site. What a privilege!

Now for some things in progress:

Birds – January; Dr. Terri Maness. Here’s hoping we’ll have Covid on the run again and can do classroom work. Terri hopes we’ll be able to go back to the Molicy for field work. Me too.

Bats & Rats – We’re looking at spring. Dr. Kim Tolson (ULM) is a bit in limbo waiting for the the university to figure out its fall semester strategy for dealing with the Delta variant of Covid, and that makes it impossible to think about how to do a workshop with us while the weather is still suitable for such a venture.

Soils: At the Roots of it All – Spring. New idea! I’ve been talking with Dr. Bill Patterson, whom some of you will remember from our Watershed Dynamics workshop a couple years ago. He is contacting Rachel Stout-Evans, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Resource Soil Scientist, to see if she will collaborate with us (see video below). After classroom work, we plan to visit a farm out in west parish that is carrying out soil conservation practices. As a former farm girl, I’m very excited about this.

Stay tuned, folks. There’s life in spite of Covid.

Heads up!

Thanks to the work of the events committee, we have events to put on our calendars. Some good ones. So pull up your calendar and let’s go!

July 25:

  • 4:45-5:30 p.m.: David Hoover certification project. BBL Education Center. Details forthcoming.
  • 5:30-6 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting. (Members welcome to stay & observe.)

August 29, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE B of D meeting on zoom. Your Board of Directors has decided to meet on last Sundays of the month on zoom. Members are always welcome to attend, provide feedback and observe, so if you are NOT a Board member but want to receive the zoom invite, notify me (bjk).

September 25: So sorry to report that Bats & Rats must be rescheduled. Will keep you posted.

September 26, 7 p.m.: 3rd Quarter Members meeting on zoom. (Board will not meet in Sept.)

Roselie and me at our first Fall Celebration. We have come a long way!

October 10, 2-3:30 p.m.: Roselie Overby certification project presentation at Tensas River NWR. Roselie is going to do our first ever experiential certification project. We will meet at Tensas. This is an amazing NWR about which I know little. Can’t wait!

October 16, 10 am – 2 pm: Fall Celebration at BBLNWR. Yippee! So glad to have this fun, educational event back. We will need volunteers to staff our table, hand out our brochures, sell t-shirts, sign up new members, etc.

October 31, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting on zoom.

November 14?: Field trip to Molicy Unit with Kelby Ouchley? This one is not yet set for sure, but Kelby has offered and we are eager to take him up on his offer. Pencil it in.

November 28, 7 p.m.: LMN-NE Board of Directors meeting on zoom.

December 12, time??: Graduation, 4Q meeting and Christmas Party! Yay!

A word about safety: The pandemic is not behind us! Things have improved and it is great to be able to make plans, but we must continue to be vigilant. If you are fully vaccinated, wearing a mask–or not–is up to you. It’s not required, indoors or out, but you are certainly free to wear one if you wish and no one will care. If you are not fully vaccinated, please do wear a mask. And we all should continue to practice physical distancing.

Tidbits

Tidbit #1. The beautiful organizational business cards Kim Paxton designed are in. Our website URL, email address, and Facebook page handle are on one side and our mission statement is on the other. Those who attend Saturday’s herps workshop will receive some to hand out to people who might be interested in us and/or leave places where such people might congregate.

If you want some personalized with your name and contact info instead of the mission statement on them, contact Kim. You will be asked to pay for those, but the price is very reasonable. Well done, Kim!

Tidbit #2. Reserve Sunday afternoon, May 16, on your calendar. Amy Ouchley will present her certification project. Yay!

One other person, whom I will not yet name since it might not work out, might also be ready. Regardless of whether for one or two presentations, we will meet that afternoon.

I’m waiting to hear from the events planning committee for details, but please reserve the afternoon.

From my most recent hike at Black Bayou Lake NWR, a prothonotary warbler who came out of the thick stuff and posed for me for a split second!

Tidbit #3. Certification going forward: I am working on rescheduling the astronomy workshop that got canceled last fall. Terri Maness has agreed to another birds workshop in the fall. Also, Kim Tolson will do a mammals workshop with us in the fall called “Bats and Rats.”

These workshops are just waiting for me to work on details, which I will as soon as my spring semester of part-time teaching ends in a few short weeks!