2017 News Stories

The impact of bison at Belwin Conservancy

Originally published on the NorthStar Bison Blog. “I can't even describe how incorporating bison have enhanced the landscape here. The quality and maturation of our prairie has been improved by 4x. The balance and abundance of insects, wildlife, wildflowers and grasses here is second to none in the country ...


The Beaver at Bulrush Slough

Belwin Conservancy is happy to report that a beaver is living at Bulrush Slough. The busy beaver was captured by our trail camera as it was chewing on a tree stump. Bulrush Slough is located across from the Belwin Outdoor Science Lower Classroom. Students with special needs use this accessible ...


Birds in the Heartland: Dark-eyed Junco

Photo by Dave Menke, USFWS. It begins with stillness now, the morning. The cacophony of bird song has diminished. In its place, the soft murmur of wind and the quiet, distinctive chip of the cardinal begin the day. As light progresses the chickadees become active, flitting to and fro collecting ...


Director's Message: Evolution + Decay = Growth

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark The Belwin team watches tadpoles from the newly constructed bridge over Bulrush Slough. Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day of the same year – February 12, 1809. Each lost their mothers early in their lives – Darwin ...


Making Connections: Meet New Member Wade Wenzel

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark We’re pleased to welcome new members to the Belwin family and look forward to introducing you to some of them in each issue of The Meadowlark. Read on to learn about Wade’s special connection to Belwin, as told ...


Inspiring Connections Across Belwin

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark When I applied for the amazing job of program manager at Belwin, I was asked to review our 21st Century Master and Strategic Plan and recommend next steps using the arts to help Belwin communicate its mission: Inspiring our connection ...


Exploring the Concept of “EVOLUTION + DECAY = GROWTH”

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark Belwin’s Living Values Protect land and use the land to support the organization’s mission. Create partnerships that play to one another’s expertise, don’t overlap and are specific to Belwin. Restore the land so people can have ...


A Force for Good: Meet Steve Martin, Belwin Volunteer

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark Like many people, Steve Martin first learned about Belwin by attending the annual bison release. Two years ago, the former executive director of Family Pathways witnessed the crowds, felt the excitement, heard the Belwin story at the release, and wanted ...


Night in Nature 2017

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark On a warm and clear night in mid-September, we opened the gates of Belwin to members and friends for our annual Night in Nature event. Billed as an evening to experience Belwin and fall in love with it, the perfect ...


Members and Supporters: Q&A with Development Director Marta McCormack

From the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue of The Meadowlark One year ago, Marta McCormack joined Belwin Conservancy as Development Manager. In that time, she’s learned a lot about the organization and its members, including the one thing that every member seems to have in common: a passion for ...


New Bridge at Belwin Connects Students to Nature

On October 5, Belwin Conservancy and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) celebrated the completion of a new footbridge that will allow students of all abilities to access outdoor education opportunities. SPPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard, Belwin Executive Director Nancy Kafka, Belwin Outdoor Science Education Director Josh Leonard, Kim Lawler of ...


Super Bowl Grant Funds Tree Planting at LWBAF

On August 22, 2017, more than 60 volunteers planted 350 trees at Belwin Conservancy’s Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields (LWBAF). The trees were purchased using a grant from the Super Bowl LII Urban Forestry Program, whose aim is to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl events and leave ...


Grace in Motion

A slender, elegant bird, long of wing, glides magically across wetlands, prairies and meadows. It flies with a light and airy grace, moving low over the vegetation as it hunts its prey. The Northern Harrier is poetry in motion. As a member of the raptor family, the Northern Harrier (Circus ...


Witnessing the Historic Eclipse at Belwin

Photos by David Truchot. Photos by David Truchot. Photos by David Truchot. Photos by David Truchot. Photos by David Truchot. Photos by David Truchot. ❮ ❯ On Monday, August 21, 2017, members of the Minnesota Astronomical Society (MAS) and Belwin Conservancy converged at Belwin's J.J. Casby Observatory to witness a ...


Mysterious Marvels or Villainous Vagabonds?

Photo by Bear golden retriever from Auburn, N.Y., via Wikimedia Commons. Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) are a member of the Icteridae family, which includes all species of Blackbirds as well as Orioles, Meadowlarks and Bob-o-links. They are a stocky bird with a stout, short bill and can be found ...


The Gregarious Acrobat

Swooping down, bouncing up, flitting side to side! This is the whimsical dance of the lively, yellow bird we call the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). It is this bird, particularly the male, that we watch for eagerly in spring to herald the coming warmer weather as his plumage changes from ...


Fueling Up in Stopover Country

Common Nighthawk. Photo by Gary L. Clark. Think about your last road trip. Do you remember how many miles you traveled? How often you stopped to eat? Where you spent the night? Were you able to get a good night’s rest or were there disturbances? Was it easy to ...


The Bison Are Back!

Photo by Mike Laughton. We’re excited to announce that a herd of 40 male juvenile bison from NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, have arrived at Belwin Conservancy. These young bison will spend their summer grazing 120 acres of our prairie, aerating the soil, and creating wallows to collect ...


Musicians of the Morning

Spring has arrived! It is the time for long walks in the sunshine, sitting outside with friends with a glass of your favorite beverage, and, for those of us in love with birds, it is the time to listen for the mesmerizing chorus of returning bird songs. Perhaps one of ...


Skydance! The Woodcock’s Magical Mating Ritual

From about the middle of April through the end of May, the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), or Timberdoodle, performs a magical evening mating ritual on the edge of open fields, prairies and wood edges. As day turns to dusk, the dancer quietly enters the open area, arriving on the ground ...


Eastern Meadowlarks Proclaim Spring’s Return

Winter-weary eyes and ears will very soon be rewarded by a plethora of returning birds. The sweet, lazy, flute-like whistle of the Eastern Meadowlark seems to say “See-you-see-yer, spring is here!” Listen to the Eastern Meadowlark’s call. A well-known member of the grassland and open spaces community, Meadowlarks spend ...


Cheery Winter Wonders

White-breasted Nuthatches are a familiar site at our feeders in the winter. They are cheeky birds that make a little nasal nyuk-nyuk- nyuk noise that can lead you right to them. They creep along the tree trunks going sideways and upside down, probing into bark furrows with their straight, pointed ...


When Winter Favors Summer Weeds

On the shortest day of 2016, more than 100 people came to Belwin for our first Solstice Bonfire. Great piles of buckthorn branches were burned, music was sung, stories were told and friendships—with others and with the land—were made. The evening wasn’t just about celebrating the Winter ...


Finding Light In The Darkness

We glided quietly through the winter night, down a dark and winding road. I could tell my son was tired by the nature of his questions – deep and searching, the way he often speaks in the gentle minutes just before sleep. “”How would the world be different,” he asked, “if ...