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A Closer Look at the Red River of the North Through Water Quality Monitoring

Another year of water quality monitoring has finished for River Keepers, an impossible task without the help of volunteers like Karyna Kloude. Karyna shared her experience with us in her own words:

On the morning of May 22, 2018, I set out for water sampling of the Wild Rice River and the Red River with River Keeper’s Project Coordinator, Kimberly Morris. River Keepers is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for sustainable use of the Red River in the Fargo-Moorhead area. I am a Sustainability student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, with an emphasis in Environmental Science, so I chose to assist with water quality monitoring for the first-hand experience with the Red River, and because I care about the quality and life of the ecosystem surrounding it.

It was my first time water quality monitoring and I didn’t know much about the techniques going in, but I was really looking forward to learning. I arrived at River Keepers early that morning and we headed to the Wild Rice River which feeds into the Red River. It took about 25 minutes to reach our first site, a small bridge on 100th Avenue South near the Wild Rice Bar. It was cool, foggy, and alive with birds. We pulled aside and set up our area with safety cones. Sampling is done from the middle of the bridge every time, to ensure consistency. We then unloaded the equipment: a Van Dorn to collect the water, a measuring tape, bottles for holding samples, and a sonde that provides underwater readings on temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH. We also used a Secchi tube to determine the clarity of the water, using our best judgement despite the overcast weather for most of the morning.

It took four hours to collect all the samples, and by the end I felt much more comfortable with the equipment, so much so that I would do it again. I felt a stronger connection to the Red River, and to water in general. It is easy to take for granted, but when you are out there looking at the water up close and familiarizing yourself with its characteristics, you begin to realize your bond with it and the importance of keeping it healthy.

Water quality monitoring is much easier with two people, so if you are interested in assisting during River Keeper’s water quality monitoring season, you can fill out a volunteer form on River Keeper’s website or contact them directly. You can also visit river.watch to access River Keepers water quality data online.

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Recreation on the Red Caring Catalog Donation

Last year all ten of our kayaks were quickly rented for many of our paddling events and we had to turn people away. In order for more people to learn about the Red River so that they can sustain and safely enjoy it, we need more kayaks, paddles and a kayak trailer. River Keepers is a part of The FM Area Foundation’s FM Area Caring Catalog, a new crowdfunding campaign to support nonprofit work in Cass Clay. From November 7 to December 31, donate to River Keepers online at www.areafoundation.org/caringcatalog and help us increase recreational use of the Red River in Fargo-Moorhead!

There are some fun giving incentives, like Funday Mondays. Each time you give on a Monday, your name will be entered to receive $100 to support our project. You can also win $25 gift certificates to local businesses just by donating $10 or more. Don’t forget to make giving go viral on #GivingTuesday. If you give to our cause on November 27 through the FM Area Caring Catalog, you’ll be entered to receive $500 to support River Keepers work to increase recreational use of the Red River!

We can not buy more kayaks, paddles and a trailer without your support. Please consider a donation today – every gift matters! Learn more at www.areafoundation.org/caringcatalog! Or if you’d prefer, please mail us a check to: River Keepers, 1120 28th Ave. N., Ste. B, Fargo, ND.

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Geocaching: A Real-World Adventure

If you, or your family and friends, are looking for more ways to get outside, consider geocaching. Geocaching is a treasure hunting activity which involves finding ‘geocaches’, or hidden containers. Geocaches are usually in plain sight, but they may be camouflaged. These containers include logs for you to sign, or sometimes a treasure item for trade. To get to the geocaches you first need to set up a free account on www.geocaching.com and set your location. Then, choose a geocache that suits your time, experience, and interest. All you need to do is dress for the weather and bring a GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone. Once you are out on the hunt, GPS will help you navigate your way to the geocache. After you have discovered the geocache, record your name in the logbook and leave the geocache the way you found it. Many people enjoy geocaching just for the journey, but if you are interested in taking an item from a geocache, make sure to leave an item of equal or greater value that is safe and appropriate.

Besides traditional geocaches, there are also multi-caches which involve two or more locations. For these, you will have to follow hints from the initial location(s) to get to the final geocache. Mystery and puzzle geocaches are also available which require you to solve a mystery or puzzle to determine the coordinates of the geocache.

River Keepers geocaches include multi-caches, a mystery cache, and a cache focused on local wildlife. As if anyone needs another reason to get out and enjoy the Red River! Below are the codes for River Keepers geocaches – have fun and good luck!

  1. River Ed (ID# GC5B6E5), multi-cache with 3 locations
  2. River Ed 2 (ID# GC5Z0T5), multi-cache with 2 locations
  3. River Ed 4 (ID# GC6ZNKM), mystery cache.  In partnership with Moorhead Parks and Recreation.
  4. Red River Watchable Wildlife (ID# GC7MEBA), large with trackables.  In partnership with the Red River Zoo.
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Paddling Excursions

On Wednesday June 27th a group of 22 paddlers took off from the Hjemkomst Center for the River Paddling Excursion: Aviary Expedition. Matt Mecklenburg from the Audubon of Fargo-Moorhead led the group, pointing out over 20 different species of birds by their song, flight pattern or markings throughout the two hour paddle.

It was fun to see participants of all ages come together to learn about the many types of birds found along the Red such as the beautiful indigo bunting. A huge thank you goes out to Matt Mecklenburg for sharing his knowledge with the group making for a great evening.

If you missed out on this excursion, don’t worry because there are others to come! Coming up on July 18th we will be hosting another excursion on the history of the Red River and its riverfront led by Mark Peihl with the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County. Following that will be a paddling excursion on animals and habitats on August 15th led by Nicole Lee. If you are interested and want more details check out our Facebook page!

If you’d rather go out on your own, take advantage of the canoe and kayak rentals located at Hjemkomst Landing before the summer ends. The rental shack is open on Tuesdays 6-8 pm, and Saturdays & Sundays from 1-6 pm. Rentals are $10/hour/vessel and will continue on from now until August 28th.

River Keepers and Moorhead Parks and Recreation partner on the River Paddling Excursions and the Canoe & Kayak Rentals at Hjemkomst Landing.

Happy Paddling!

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Race the Red 2018

As the air-horn blew on Monday, June 11th, a community of 61 vessels took off to Race the Red at Dike East. Despite the rainy weather, the Race broke its previous record which stood at 52 vessels competing in the event.

The vessels ranged from the typical canoe team to one participant who completed the 6 mile race on a stand up paddle board. Participants chose to go 1.5 miles, 3.5 miles, or 6 miles when they hit the water and every participant that started the race reached one of the markers. Our cowbell and emcee, Merrill Peipkorn, cheered the competitors in as they crossed the finish. Awards were given out to all those who finished first in their race and category. Two vessels competed for best decorated and after a vote on Facebook the pirate tandem kayak team #42 came out on top.

Participants tested their lifeguard skills at the buoy toss game, and treated themselves to barbecue from Heavenly Hawg after racing. The night couldn’t have been made possible if it weren’t for the help from so many of our amazing volunteers including Scott Olson who was awarded our Volunteer of the Year Award prior to the start of the race. The night and all that we do could not be made possible without all of our generous and passionate volunteers like Scott!

If you missed out on the Race this year, go to the Hjemkomst Landing and rent our canoes/kayaks to get a head start for next year! Our Red River Paddling Excursions are also offered once a month  if you want to get out on the Red River with some friends, you can register with Moorhead Parks and Recreation.

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Reforest the Red News

On June 8th about 90 volunteers went to Original Homestead Park in Moorhead to Reforest the Red. These volunteers dedicated 3 hours of their time and their sweat to plant 800 trees in the park. It was humbling to see the diversity of people who came to help, and observe the strong sense of dedication and community in every single one of them. River Keepers staff was practically begging volunteers to stop and a take a break for water, a granola bar or a sub. Regardless, the volunteers completed their task in just a few short hours and you could see a face of gratification on each volunteer as they left the park.

Restoring this area with trees will provide many benefits to our river community. The addition of these trees will help slow rainwater runoff, stabilize the bank, provide habitats and keep the river cooler for wildlife, and so much more. The trees that were planted that Friday will greatly impact our community for years to come.

We would like to thank all of the businesses who generously encouraged their employees to participate in this event including Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, Wex Health, Bell Bank, D-S Beverages, Annheuser Busch, Cargill, FedEx, Microsoft, and Old Navy. We would also like to thank our sponsors who made the day possible, the City of Moorhead and the Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District.

If you missed out on the fun but would like to participate in the future, there will be another Reforest the Red event on September 12th from 12 pm to 7:30 pm on the Fargo side of the river. Check out our Facebook page for more information, we hope to see everyone there!


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Awards Presented

Our 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Annie Woodarek.  The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes outstanding volunteer work in promoting the goals of River Keepers.   Annie volunteered the last couple of years with River Keepers.  Thanks to her, we finally have some really good pictures of the Catfish Cup, Celebrate Our Red, Race the Red and the Red River Water Festival.  Annie has also planted trees at Reforest the Red and has gone out water quality monitoring with us. Annie does everything with commitment and a smile on her face which is much appreciated.

Our 2017 Friend of the River Award was presented to Vijay Gaba.  His wife, Anu, accepted the award on his behalf.  The Friend of the River Award recognizes outstanding leadership in the promotion of a River Keepers goal.  Vijay believes in our vision that all people value our Red River as a vital part of our community.  His respect for the Red is very obvious in the way that he talks about it and utilizes it. One of River Keepers goals is to “Maintain and increase appropriate recreational use of the Red River.”  Vijay participates (and wins!) in our Race the Red canoe and kayak races and also the River Paddling Excursions.  Another one of our goals is to “Increase public awareness of the Red River, its uses, and water related issues by disseminating accurate information and engaging in educational activities.”  Vijay has volunteered at the Red River Water Festival to help educate our youth about the importance of water.

Our 2017 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jon Evert.  The Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals or organizations on their exceptional contributions or career-long commitment to River Keepers or the Red River Basin.    Jon is a farmer who understands the woos of too much and too little water.  He also understands water quality issues.  He realizes consensus building is a process that takes time but is essential in stakeholders beginning to talk and build trust to solve water issues throughout the basin.  Jon came to River Keepers Board of Directors with a long history of service to our community and the water world: The International Coalition, City of Comstock, Clay County Commission, the Red River Basin Commission, the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Clay-Wilkin Public Heath, Barnesville Lions and Lutheran Social Services just to name a few.  We are pleased he has agreed to join River Keepers Executive Committee this next year.  Jon has truly made an impact on the Red River, our community and the watershed.

Our 2017 Good Neighbor Award was presented to the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. The Good Neighbor Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose property touches the Red River.  Their outstanding efforts may include upkeep of River property which maintains the integrity of the River, activities which have enhanced the River or the enjoyment of the River, or any unique effort to befriend the River.  Their outstanding efforts to incorporate all their vision statement into their everyday plans, makes them an exceptional neighbor to the Red River.  Since we share the same river, River Keepers staff and the Greenway Specialist have learned from each other’s experiences on river and greenway related issues such as access, trails, event management, and public perceptions. For this we are grateful.  Most recently, The Greenway has worked with the Boathouse on the Red to help a community group rent canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards.  They also put in an accessible access downtown for fishing and launching vessels which is one more piece to the puzzle of making the Red River Water Trail something that everybody can enjoy.

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Make Your Own Rain Barrel and Compost Tumbler Workshops

River Keepers, Cass County Soil Conservation District and Clay County Soil & Water Conservation District are ready to help people start thinking about spring by leading fun, educational and practical do it yourself workshops.

Make Your Own Rain Barrel Workshops:  Save money by using untreated water to water those flower and vegetable gardens while protecting the Red River’s water quality. A rain barrel is a rainwater harvesting system that is connected to a downspout from a house or building. As rainfall changes throughout the season, one rain barrel will hold about 50 gallons of water that can be used during city-imposed water bans. Some of the benefits of rain barrels include building protection by controlling moisture levels around the foundation, reduce storm water runoff by catching the water from your roof and gutters, and you’ll have happier plants since they prefer un-chlorinated, untreated water.

When: 6-8 p.m. on April 25, May 8 or May 25

Fee: $74.00 includes supplies ($69 for Moorhead school district residents). Cass County residents may be eligible for partial reimbursement of fee; information will be available at the conclusion of the workshop.

Build Your Own Compost Tumbler Workshops:  Save water, money, time and maintenance costs by using yard waste to benefit you and your soil. This workshop will cover the basics of composting and provide instruction to construct various composting systems. In addition, you will build and bring home a compost tumbler made from a plastic 55-gallon barrel. By tumbling this composter around the yard once or twice a week you could have a barrel full of compost by the end of the growing season.

When: 6-8 p.m. on May 2, May 15 or June 1

Fee: $69.00 includes supplies ($64 for Moorhead school district residents).

To register for any of the workshops, contact Moorhead Community Education at www.moorheadschools.org/Schools/Alternative-Schools/Community-Education/ or by calling 218-284-3400.

For more information, contact River Keepers at christine@riverkeepers.org or 701.235.2895.

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