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January Article
Minnesota Winters- Hell or Heaven sent?

Whether you like our winters or not, pretty much every Minnesotan born and raised in our great state can agree that this season is cold, dark, and feels pretty darn long.  That is, until now? Recent climate change models are predicting that Minnesota might soon (if not already) be in for some big changes. This last November and December were incredibly mild, and this made us wonder:  How do our traditional "cold" winters benefit the landscape? What will this new climate feel like? And how will Minnesota change?

In January, we are more concerned with getting our cars started, staying on the road, chopping wood, and stoking the fire.  We seldom stop and consider how all this cold really shapes our environment.  Below, we have listed a few benefits of the artic blasts and polar vortices:


1. Some pests and invasive species are unable to handle the extreme weather conditions we usually face in the winter; protecting our native ecosystems from some nasty plants, bugs, or even diseases. And who doesn't love the fact that there are no mosquitoes buzzing around for a good chunk of the year? Even the spread of certain invasive species like Emerald Ash Borer can be slowed, giving land managers time to mitigate against damages or find ways to prevent it from spreading further.


2.We also have better air quality during the winter.  Ground-level ozone made from nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds mixed with heat and sunlight can cause harmful air pollution. In the winter, with less heat and sunlight, ozone pollution is generally not an issue.


3. Cold weather also has various human health benefits like reduced inflammation, resistance to infections, better sleeping, and increased energy.  We are able to burn more calories when it is cold, enabling us to go back for more of Mom's tater-tot casserole.


4.Snow and ice melt replenish our lakes, streams, and aquifers.  Ice cover also impacts lake levels. Several local lakes (including the Great Lakes) are shrinking.  And some believe that has to do with climate change.   Ice cover prevents evaporation from the lakes during the winter and for as long as it lasts into spring.  Ice thickness affects how warm the water will be that year, and thus the rate of annual evaporation.  The more ice cover, the colder the water stays into the summer and fall, leading to less overall evaporation.


5. Cold temperatures help with native seed germination.

 Many native plant species rely on the freeze and thaw cycles during our winters to help break open their hard outer shells.  This facilitates germination in the spring. With climate change, we might see a shift in

 germination success rates.


Although nobody can really give us an exact start date to global warming, there are changes that point to a new Minnesota climate.  Over the last 40 years, we have seen our state's average temperature increase by half a degree.  Over that same time period, our winters have been generally warmer, and overnight lows are higher.  Ice-out on lakes is happing earlier in the spring and our snow season is ending sooner.  We are seeing more precipitation statewide, but these rain events are typically more intense (mega-rains). 

There are also reports of distributions of key plant and animal species significantly changing over the last 100 years.  For instance, the density of maple trees has moved north and east.  The range of moose in the state is smaller, and some believe this has to do with warmer temperatures and associated stressors.  Bird experts are also noting changes in migratory patterns, with some northern species cutting their southern migrations short, which may be due to a changing climate.
There is no doubt that we should keep a keen eye on this rapidly evolving issue and do what we can to reduce our individual impacts.  One way that we can act locally is to maximize our ecological diversity on our own properties. Establish native plant communities and eliminate water use, fertilizers, pesticides, and the consumption of fossil fuels (that turf lawns require).  Setting an example for our peers and our children is a very important step forward in reducing climate change.
Company News
Natural Shore Has Moved!

We have moved a mile to a new office in neighboring Independence, MN. Our new location will allow us to better serve our clients' needs. 

Our new retail nursery address is:
1480 County Rd 90.  Independence MN 55359

Look for more details on our new location soon!

Native Plant of the Month
Sparganium eurycarpum

Moisture: Wet
Exposure: Full Sun
Color: White
Bloom: June-August
Height: 3-5 Feet

These are robust rhizomatous plants consisting of  thick, spongy stems and leaves.
Bur-reed also has attractive white and yellow flowers in a ball shape that turn into brown spiked fruits. It thrives in rich, wet soil along pond and lake margins,  marshes, streams, swamps and in shallow standing water.  It can also grows in fresh to slightly brackish waters.  Bur-reed will propagate by rhizomes, corms, and seeds.  Native Americans used the plant for medicine and dug the corms (tuber-like structures) for food.  The plant provides habitat and seeds for food for waterfowl.  Other common names are giant bur-reed, broad fruit bur-reed.
Invasive Plant of the Month
©2009 Katy Chayka
Medicago sativa
Exposure: Full Sun
Moisture: Dry
Height: 1-3 Feet
Blooms: June-September

Alfalfa is an escaped foraging crop from Europe that is an annual or short lived perennial. It is found mostly on the sides of roadways or in areas that have been disturbed. Stems branch out in a cluster from the bottom of the plant. The leaves grow in threes on a leaflet that is about 1.5 inches long. The flowers range from a lighter lavender to a deeper purple. This plant has long, deep roots that can make manual removal difficult. Herbicide treatments can be effective as well as mowing to ensure the plant doesn't go to seed.
Insect of the Month
Common Buckeye
Junonia coenia
Range: Southern and Eastern US., North to Canada
Habitat: Prairies and open fields
Adult Identification: Tops of wings have two large eyes and two small eyes each. Look for one white stripe and two orange bars on the top wings and a pale orange strip of color along the bottom wings. Undersides of wings are a reddish-brown color in the fall.
Caterpillar Identification: Blackish- gray along the body with orange spots and black spines
Pollination: Adults feed on nectar from Aster Species, Coreopsis species, and other native plants

January 2016 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our retail nursery is currently closed for the season.  For 2016 plant orders, contact Jill at

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events
Join us for MECA's Annual Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Conference and Tradeshow Jan. 26th-28th at the Double Tree Park Place in Minneapolis!

SWCD logo
Natural Shore will be at the 2016 Stearns County Shoreland Training Workshop Thurs. Feb. 4th at the College of St. Benedict in the Gorecki Conf. Center!

Design with Nature Conf.
Join us at this year's Wild Ones Design With Nature Conference where the theme is Good Design Matters. Sat. Feb. 20th at the James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall at the University of St. Thomas. 2115 Summit Ave. St. Paul MN 55105