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Posts Tagged ‘Lake Nokomis’

Image courtesy of Locus Architecture

Image courtesy of Locus Architecture

This spring, visitors to Lake Nokomis will get to enjoy some upgrades to the patio and covered seating area next to Sandcastle  that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has planned with the help of Locus Architecture, the same firm that designed the remodel of the refectory building.  The improvements are being done to provide a patio and pavilion at the site, as requested by the Community Advisory Committee to provide a similar dining experience to what visitors enjoy at other popular park concession areas, such as Sea Salt and Tin Fish.  Restrooms are being modified to improve accessibility.  Another key piece of the site improvement plan is to reroute the walking path to improve traffic flow around the concession for runners and pedestrians not visiting Sandcastle.

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing the seating area that Locus has designed to complement their remodel of the refectory building. The first season was terrific, and I’m glad that Sandcastle and the public had an opportunity to provide feedback to the design team about what they’d like to see at the site after they’d used it for a season.”Steffanie Musich~ MPRB Commissioner District 5.

The design reflects the desire of many visitors to have more seating with views of the lake and the beach, and to preserve the shade provided by the surrounding trees as well as the vegetative buffer between developed space and the water.  Residents should note that these improvements do not replace the Master Planning process for the park which is due to get underway in 2014.

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Ebenezer Hodsdon and his family moved to Minnesota from Maine in 1852 hoping to buy land in the Minnesota territory, lured by an enticingly worded ad in the Augusta Maine newspaper “Come to Minnesota Territory. The climate is as warm as California, cattle can graze all winter.”  The twenty something couple and their three young children gave away their warm clothing and wool blankets and booked transport to St. Paul.

They settled first in St. Anthony, eventually buying a farm near Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street, but having been a seafaring man for much of his youth, Ebenezer wanted to live closer to the water. He started a search for a farm with water.  Not long after he started looking he encountered a young man with a fine string of fish in the post office that told him he’d caught them in Lake Amelia, and that a man had a big farm for sale right on the south shore of the lake.

Ebenezer bought the 94 acre farm, and hired a man to help clear it. He raised cranberries, strawberries,  plums and apples, and would catch fish and ducks for sale to downtown restaurants.  His love of the water led him to build the first sailboat on the lake, and after the advent of horsecars he found himself building additional boats for hire to the visitors from the city.

In his later years, after the bicycle began gaining popularity as a mode of transportation, Ebenezer became quite the bicycle enthusiast; building a cinder trail around Lake Amelia to practice his bicycling on one summer in his late seventies.  His practicing paid off, when he won a bicycle race at Lake Harriet against a much younger group of cyclists, including his grandson.

Ebenezer Hodsdon with his bicycle.

Ebenezer Hodsdon with his bicycle.

In 1907, he sold a wide strip of his farmland to the park board to complete the boulevard system around the lake and widen the road.  After he signed the deed, his lawyer said to him, “Congratulations, Mr. Hodsdon. You will be remembered as the last man to own a farm on a city lake.”

This has been just a tiny taste of the life story of Ebenezer Hodsdon, his granddaughter Beatrice Morosco wrote a lovely account of her grandfather and how he came to be one of the pioneers to establish the city of Minneapolis in her book: The Restless Ones, A Family History.

 

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Two of the majestic oak trees adorning the hillside leading down from Woodlawn Boulevard into the park on the far south end of the park have been confirmed to have oak wilt. The damage to the trees observed by the MPRB’s arborists is assumed to have occurred in June’s violent storms. The trees that tested positive for the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum are being removed in hope of preventing the spread of the disease to neighboring trees.  Trenches are also being dug in the spring to separate the roots of healthy trees from the diseased ones.

The fungus infects oak tree’s water carrying cells, preventing water and nutrients from travelling from the roots to the crown of the tree.  This process is what causes the wilting of the infected tree and eventually its death.  The fungus spreads through root grafts under the soil (in closely spaced trees, such as occur on this hillside and via sap feeding beetles which carry the fungal spores from infected to healthy trees.

The removal and trench line method of containment for oak wilt has been utilized successfully in the park before (near 50th street and the parkway) and we hope for the same success this time.  Replanting will not be done, both because it is not recommended to replant oaks where wilt has been confirmed, and because of the area’s designation as a natural area.  Natural areas are minimally managed by park staff, and are left to be replanted by mother nature and the squirrels when trees die or are removed due to disease.

More information about diseases of oak trees, including oak wilt can be found on the University of Minnesota’s Extension website: http://www1.extension.umn.edu/environment/trees-woodlands/oak-wilt-or-anthracnose/

OAk wilt location

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Looking for an inexpensive activity around Lake Nokomis this summer?  Geocashing is a treasure hunting adventure for the whole family.

 

Geocashing  uses GPS through your mobile device to help treasure seekers locate “treasure” which range in size from magnet the size of match box to a tennis ball container.  Geocashers that find the particular item sign their name.  Others leave a small trinket or SWAG (Stuff We All Get) signifying they found the item.  These items can be taken and replaced with other SWAG by future players that located the geocache.

 

The origins of Geocashing go back 150 years to a game called Letterboxing which used clues to direct players to certain landmarks.  In 2000, when GPS greatly improved it’s accuracy, you could now locate an item with a few feet of it’s GPS coordinates.  The original name GPS Stash Hunt or GPSstaching became Geocashing.

 

Within a block or two around Lake Nokomis, there are 25-30 geocaches waiting to be discovered with varying degrees of difficulty.

 

There are over 200 Geocaching apps to help you geocache and many are free.  Some of the free apps are “intro” apps and may only show a portion of the Geocaches in your area. Apps with all registered Geocaches range from $0.99-$9.99.   Many apps will provide clues such as the size of the item, the degree of difficulty, the terrain around the item and whether or not the geocache can be found in all seasons.

 

Much to my surprise after downloading my first Geocaching app, a geocache was hidden a mere 100 feet from our front door.  It took about 15-20 minutes using our iPhone app to find our first geocache.  Since then we’ve found about 10 geocaches around Lake Nokomis.   There are a couple my wife and I haven’t found but make sure we spend about 5-10 minutes each time we walk around the lake.

Once you find the geocache you can sign the logbook if the geocache is large enough or note the log on the application you are using.  In our abbreviated social media world and because the geocache logbooks can be small, players may leave notes such as (TFTC/H – Thanks for the Cache/Hide), BYOP (Bring Your Own Pencil), DNF (Did Not Find) or (TNSL Took Nothing. Signed Logbook.)

 

Some recommend tips for geocaching around Lake Nokomis is to wear shoes and clothing that match the terrain of the geocache.  Some are located in wooded areas or the edge of the lake. When geocaching with younger players with lesser attention spans you may want to find the geocache first so you can help direct them to a geocache they can find on their own.  As you treasure hunt watch out for “Muggles”, which is based on the term meaning a non-magical person taken from the Harry Potter series and are people who are non-geocachers.

 

I hope to see you all out geocaching around Lake Nokomis now that winter is gone.  Happy Hunting!!!

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Leaves left in the street reach our lakes, rivers, creeks and wetlands via the storm sewer system and release phosphorus as they decay. Even small amounts of phosphorous can cause increased algae blooms and excessive weed growth in lakes and ponds. Algae and weeds decrease water quality for plants, animals, and for people who use Lake Nokomis for recreation.

This is what algae looks like in our lake.

While improvements have been made to prevent storm water from directly flowing into Lake Nokomis on the West side of the lake, there are still a dozen or more points of entry into the lake directly from the storm water system on the Eastern shore, making the issue of proper lawn care and leaf pickup one that should not be taken lightly.

Protect our water bodies by not raking leaves into the street. Follow these water-friendly tips when cleaning up leaves around your home:

  • Compost leaves to provide rich organic matter for your lawn and garden.
  • Chop leaves with your mower; a fine layer of leaves provides nutrients for your lawn.
  • Use leaves as mulch for bushes and plants.
  • As a last resort, bag leaves for pickup.

More tips are available on Hennepin County’s website: http://www.hennepin.us/water

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