2011 News Stories

New Observation Tower

Anyone who visited the Belwin Conservancy for our fall event on October 8 probably noticed that the observation tower next to the Education Center was gone. As we began a small restoration project on it this spring, we were dismayed to find that it needed extensive repairs and for safety ...


Director's Message

As I was driving home the other day, the radio announced that Dawn Wells (the actress that played Mary Ann on "Gilligan’s Island") was turning 73 years old. Mary Ann is 73 years old. If that isn’t a wake-up call to one’s mortality, I don’t know ...


40 Years of Belwin Outdoor Science

“We’re in nature for the first time!” say many students from St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) upon arriving at Belwin. This simple, yet profound statement falls right out of their mouths as they unload from the bus. This scene has played out over 400,000 times, but it’s ...


Protecting Valley Creek One Property at a Time

Valley Creek is also what drew Charlie Bell to this area in the 1950's and stands as the principal reason that the Belwin Conservancy exists today. His original land protection efforts centered on the Creek and as the preserve has grown, protecting the land and water that sustains this ...


Grecian Foxglove

It may be the cool weather making me reflective this morning, but I can’t help but think about this past growing season. It’s always a bit of a sprint to stay on top of the weeds in our restorations when they all seem to demand attention at the ...


Weather Station Now Available

Located in the prairie directly out the door of the Education Center is a weather station that has been dutifully collecting meteorological data for decades. This scientific-grade station collects important meteorological data used by the scientists and government agencies who monitor Valley Creek. They use the data collected from this ...


Experiencing Nature

During the last weeks of February here at Valley Branch, we taught primarily third-grade St. Paul Public School students. Typically, we have more of an even distribution of third and fifth grade students, with the occasional middle or high school class as well. Having just taught so many third graders ...


Battling Buckthorn at Belwin

European Buckthorn is readily identifiable by a few key plant characteristics. As you might guess from its name, it has a small thorn at the tip of each branch. The leaves come off the branch opposite or sub- opposite (slightly offset) one another. This shrub has both male and female ...


The Stagecoach Prairies Natural Area

The four and a half miles of trails are perfect for a walk or for cross-country skiing in the winter. Like all of our preserve, Stagecoach Prairies is also a living, breathing, and changing place. This winter we began a large restoration project that will improve the natural area for ...


Director's Message

I’m 48. it’s amazing to look back and think that when I was eight years old (hanging out in San Diego replete with my Bobby Goldsboro haircut, horizontally-striped Hang Ten shirt, cool orange bell-bottom corduroys and blue and white Puma Clydes) two people were doing something extraordinary here ...


Lucy News

Last year the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields (LWBAF) celebrated their 10th anniversary. Since they opened in 2000, the LWBAF have hosted over 70,000 visits every year and become a beloved part of this community. Youth from 13 surrounding communities come to play soccer, baseball, softball, and football throughout ...


Sauers Pond Natural Area gets a New Name

In 2008, we opened an area of our preserve that we had called ‘Sauers Pond’ internally, for public visitation. It has been wildly popular, but the pond is only on a small portion of the property. We decided this area deserved a clearer name, so we decided to do a ...


Bison and Prairie Health

For the last three summers we have hosted herds of bison on the Belwin Conservancy’s preserve. The goals of this reintroduction were numerous and lofty. For starters, we hoped to inspire the community with this iconic North American mammal. Mission accomplished. The Bison Release is more successful than we ...


Belwin Outdoor Science

Over the years, our partnership with the St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has had many names. It was first known as the 'Belwin Outdoor Education Laboratory', eventually shortened to ‘Belwin’. A few years ago, the partnership was renamed the ‘Valley Branch Environmental Learning Center’. Today, we’re pleased to announce ...


Mud

I’m sitting here watching the white world we’ve been living in for what seems like forever melt away. I can actually see the ground in few places. I’d forgotten what it looked like. It looks like mud. As much as I welcome the new spring, I’m ...


Brave Souls

If you're like us here at the Belwin Conservancy, you've about had it with the snow. It's beautiful, to a point, but that point may have been reached some time ago. That said, there are a few brave hearts among you who came to our Winter Event ...


New Legacy Amendment Dollars Preserve Critical Metro-area Land

An exceptional and disappearing slice of Minnesota’s outdoor heritage is now protected for future generations thanks to the voters who approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment in 2008. The Belwin Conservancy and Minnesota Land Trust recently acquired 17-acres of trout stream and forest habitat located on Valley ...