Talkin ’bout rivers

The Sea Grant “River Talks” series will start up for 2014 with a discussion at 7 p.m. Tuesday about dredging.

Gene Clark, coastal engineer with Wisconsin Sea Grant, will present “Dredging: From Spoils to Soils and Muck to Smuck” at Clyde Iron, 2920 W. Michigan St., Duluth.

Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve have teamed up to offer this series of science café-type evening talks about the St. Louis River Estuary. These informal talks began in 2013 and are held on the last Tuesday of the month through May.

The talk is free. But you’ll have to pay for any beer or coffee you drink.

Any green thinkers?

The United States Green Building Council–Minnesota chapter is calling for presentations for the 2014 green builders conference.

If you or someone you know has a great green proposal, the council wants to hear it. The deadline for submissions is Friday.

Proposed sessions should be either 60 or 90 minutes long. The council’s programs provide education about design, construction and operational practices; promote green building best practices as well as the LEED certification process.

The chapter wants to encourage sessions to use a panel of experts in the topic and encourage dialogue and discourse about the subject matter between panelists and the audience.


Bring your meds to WLSSD

The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District is set to host a free collection event for unwanted or expired medications from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at its regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

“Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Day” is a one-day event offering residents free disposal of medications in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Residents are also encouraged to use the “Take It to the Box” medication drop box sites at local law enforcement agencies.

Ice? Salt? Smarts?

Recently, a reader from Duluth, Erik Holmstrom, posed the question about what can be done about the icy roads besides using salt.

As it turns out, there are a couple things that can be done to make travel safer on Duluth’s icy roads.

There is a chemical that is sometimes used to melt the ice at temperatures lower than 15 degrees, roughly the coldest pure salt will work at. It’s called chloride (which covers sodium, calcium and magnesium) and this chemical can melt the snow even in 60-degree below zero weather. Sounds great, right? Sadly, no. Chlorides are harsh chemicals that can scorch the ice off the roads, but there are problems associated, not the least of which is cost. Some estimates put it at $10 to $18 per 5-10 pound container. The Environmental Protection Agency has guidelines for the other problems.

The EPA:
“Chlorides can cause serious problems. They can be detrimental to animals and plants, and they are corrosive. Site conditions, particularly where roads are immediate adjacent to streams, must be evaluated carefully if chlorides are being considered for use.”

With Lake Superior so close, and myriad rivers and creeks flowing into it, the use of chlorides, while not forbidden, is likely not the most environmentally conscious thing to dump on city streets. At least, not in the amounts needed to rid the city of its ice encrusted streets.

There is, however, another solution.

The awesome cognitive, mechanical and visual spatial skills necessary to obtain a driver’s license ensures that everyone is capable of recognizing slippery conditions and can plan accordingly. This includes not following too closely. Leave a few more car lengths between your car and the one you are following. Go slower in icy conditions. Don’t wait for others to learn to drive better, be the change you want to see in the world.

Speak up, public

A public meeting will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a Mini Master Plan for Duluth’s Hartley Park. The meeting will be held at Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Ave. The City of Duluth’s Parks and Recreation division has contracted with a consulting group to work with city staff members, Hartley Nature Center, stakeholders, the city’s cross-country ski trail consultant and the public to develop a plan for the park. Progress of that plan will be discussed Wednesday night.

Residents also may offer written feedback after Wednesday.

The Mini-Master Plan will address all aspects of the park, including programming, trails and managing natural resources.

Sustainable showcase

Sustainable Twin Ports is hosting its fifth annual public showcase today at Spirit Mountain’s Grand Avenue Chalet, 8551 Grand Ave.

The free event features Greg Benson, CEO of Loll Designs, as speaker and local singer-songwriter Greg Tiburzi as well as reports on how Lake Superior College, the Fond du Lac Band, Canal Park Brewing and the University of Wisconsin-Superior have become more sustainable.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and the program begins at 5:15. Complimentary appetizers and a cash bar will be available.

Go sweep a beach

The annual Beach Sweep volunteer beach cleanup effort is set for Saturday in the Duluth area, this year with the Great Lakes Alliance leading the effort.

The event is set from 9 a.m. to noon along various waterfronts in the Duluth area, joining efforts across the Great Lakes.

The alliance is taking over the effort in Duluth from the Great Lakes Aquarium. In 2012, 348 people cleaned 3,947 pounds of debris from 27 miles of shoreline in the Twin Ports.

Anyone who wants to volunteer should contact Emma Wiermaa, local beach coordinator, at (218) 740-2070 or at to find out what section of waterfront to go to. Individuals are welcome and groups are especially sought.

The actual cleanup can occur this week, Saturday or any time until Oct. 5. For more information go to

Marina open house

The public is invited to come to Barker’s Island Marina on Saturday for a great view of the Fray on the Bay Regatta and to take part in the marina’s Clean Marina Open House celebration from noon to 3 p.m.

Food and beverages will be available, and the folks at Barker’s Island will show off the steps they have taken to become a certified Wisconsin Clean Marina, which focuses on minimizing impacts on the lake, and get tips on what you can do to protect water quality.

Barker’s Island is one of more than 20 marinas in Wisconsin that have taken steps to voluntarily adopt best-management practices to become certified “clean marinas.”

Party with a tree

September is tree-planting time in Duluth and residents are being asked to take part in several planting parties sponsored by the city’s Trees and Trails Commission.

“When September rolls around, it’s time to get some trees in the ground,” said Judy Gibbs, Trees and Trails coordinator. “They act as windbreaks and provide shade to homes, which reduces energy costs, and they build a stronger community.”

This year, the tree-planting parties will focus on bike paths and shore areas. They are free and open to volunteers of all ages. The Natural Resource Research Institute at the University of Minnesota Duluth is partnering with the city on the project.

Here is a list of parties in neighborhoods across the city:

* Lester Park: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 16. Meet at upper parking lot above Bridge Seven on Seven Bridges Road.

* Irving Park: 2-4 p.m. Sept. 22. Meet at community center at 20 S. 57th Ave. W.

* Hartley Park: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 23. Meet at the Hartley Nature Center at 3001 Woodland Ave.

* Lakewalk: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

Meet at the Lakewalk bridge between London Road and Superior Street at 61st Avenue East.

Register for a party by contacting Cheryl Skafte at (218) 393-9879 or

Legal graffiti

OK, it’s not really graffiti. But volunteers are needed to help stencil storm drains in Superior to remind people that whatever goes into the drains goes out into streams and eventually into Lake Superior.

The stenciling — “Do Not Dump, Drains to Stream” — will happen from 6-7 p.m. today. Volunteers, including any kind of groups and families with kids ages 9 or older, are asked to come to Carl Gallo Park, 510 26th Ave. E., in East End. Supplies will be provided.

Everyone is welcome to help, but RSVP by 4 p.m. to the City of Superior Environmental Services Division, (715) 394-0392, ext. 1041, or