Welcome to the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom's Advisory Committee site
How did an ignored, trash strewn, buckthorn infested, random bike trail riddled woodland become an outdoor learning area? A group of local neighbors and St. Paul Park and Recreation have worked together to make this amazing transformation happen. The Como Woodland is now a place for you to explore and study, listen to birds, see a fox, take a photo of a wildflower in the spring, and learn about this history and story behind Como Park and the Woodland.
Come see for yourself and explore the new trails! A detailed map of the woodland itself is forthcoming, but the meantime, download a map to find the woodland within larger Como Park.
If you're a teacher, bring your students to listen, write, draw, study, collect data, have a quiet space—the list can go on and on. For teachers bringing students, the first step is to request a free permit at 651-632-5111. These FREE permits will help to track numbers and activities for grant reporting and maintain an appropriate level of use for the environmental health and sustainability of the outdoor classroom.
Do you want to be part of this continuing transformation? Here are ways you can be involved:
- There will be continual, periodic volunteer activities to help control the invasive species and assist with planting desired species.
- Join the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom Advisory Committee. We provide advice to St. Paul Park and Recreation on the continual restoration of the woodland, help plan and volunteer at restoration and other special events, and help teachers get started who want an outdoor classroom experience for their students.
- Do you have interpretive or science skills? Can you ID birds, trees, flowers, or butterfies? Because there are no dedicated staff to lead students and teachers while they are at the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, your skills could be very valuable. Contact the Como Woodland Advisory Committee Chair and that person will help you get connected.
34th Citywide Spring Cleanup On Saturday, April 25, 2020 canceled due to COIVD-19
A message from this event's organizer: To our dedicated volunteers, In alignment with public health official guidelines, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation has made the decision to cancel this year's annual Citywide Spring Cleanup scheduled for Saturday, April 25th. Please stay tuned as we hope to provide additional guidance and recommendations on how the public can help us care for our parks this spring. At this time, our parks and trails remain open to the public. Please visit www.stpaul.gov/parks-covid19for park visitor recommendations in alignment with CDC guidelines.
CWOC EcoSteward 2020 Training class canceled due to COVID-19, but CWOC Stewards can still work in their plots.
A message to CWOC Stewards from the SPPR Volunteer Coordinator, Tricia: "As the COVID-19 virus continues to raise concerns in Minnesota and the country we are going to try and do our part to limit the spread. Maggie and I have decided to cancel the large group in person training this year. We are very fortunate that many of our CWOC Stewards are returning and know the work that needs to be done. For those that are new Maggie and I will reach out to you directly and work on a time to meet on site before you start volunteering.
Going forward: 1) We will continue to communicate via email. 2) Once plot locations are determined we will send that out via email. Please let us know if you have any concerns with the area you are working in. 3) I will be sending out the handbook, waivers and training PowerPoint via email. 4) Please submit your volunteer waivers back to me via email. 5) Since this is a program is one where you volunteer individually we will let everyone make their own decisions on if they are able to volunteer or not. Please stay home if you have any symptoms. 6) Once the weather gets nice we will place the tools in the tool cache, these will be cleaned throughout the week. We do ask that you bring your own gloves.
You are always welcome to reach out to us via email or phone with any questions about being a CWOC Steward. <Tricia.Wehrle@ci.stpaul.mn.us>. We are not medical experts and are learning right along with everyone else.
Thank you, Tricia and Maggie
2020 NATURE SURVEY WALK SERIES – documenting species in Como Woodland
We are in the planning process for this season's Nature Walks series, and will be bringing back many of the same topics: Wild Flowers Walk (May); Birds Walk (May 16, 8:30am); Creepy Crawlers Walk (June); Prairies Walk (July 22, 6:30pm); Dragonflies (August); Trees & Shrubs Walk (September). *As you can see, we still need to firm up some dates, but also waiting to see how long COVID-19 social distancing recommendations will be in place. Check back later!
Yearlong Bird Survey Update From January 2019 to February 2020
Thank you Michael MacDonald and the many talented birders, who have generously volunteered countless hours to update the bird count for both the Como Woodland area and the Como Lake area, the yearlong count is done. The summary data for the Como Woodland bird count is: Total number of bird species seen - 86; Number of individual birds seen - 1,264; Most sighted bird species - American Robin; 24 species were only sighted once. After the raw data has been compared to the 2006 bird survey we will post the results.
LAST YEAR'S EVENTS WRAP UP, NEWS & MORE
Seed Squad Volunteers in Como Woodland On September 19, 2019, 5:30
There were 15 volunteers for this year's drop-in seed collecting event in CWOC, and the volunteers worked so hard that we finished early. We collected seeds from grey coneflowers and several grasses in Como Woodland's two prairie areas. Those seeds will be propagated and planted in the 2020 growing season to increase plant diversity for wildlife and pollinators in Como Woodland and other natural parkland in St. Paul. This Seed Squad event was organized by our partners in the Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Natural Resources Department.
2019 NATURE SURVEY WALK SERIES – documenting species in Como Woodland
This was a series of six survey walks for the 2019 season. Weather was not always cooperating, but many new people were introduced to the CWOC and contributed to our overall project survey. Over 100 species were recorded, and those results will be posted under in this website under: Tools for Educators/Environmental Ed Resources. Thank you to all the volunteer leaders and participants.
Our sixth and final walk, Dragonflies, was held on August 10. Britt Forsberg, Minnesota Bee Atlas Coordinator with the University of Minnesota Extension and longtime Como Woodland Advisor, returned to lead the event with help from the Minnesota Dragonfly Society, and their goal is " . . . to get people excited about these charismatic little predators while contributing to the actual science of dragonflies and damselflies in Minnesota."
Our first walk, Spring Wildflowers, was held on April 26; Meghan Manhatton, Natural Resource Specialist, was the leader of this walk; All our plant observations from this walk were included in the 2019 City Nature Challenge. Our second walk was, Birds, held on May 11; Leader Joan McKearnan, professor of biology & environmental science, helped us add new birds to the CWOC list. Our third walk was Trees & Shrubs held on June 13; The leader was Tim Morgan of Morgan's Tree Service, who shared his arbor-knowledge with 16 attendees. Our fourth walk was Woodland Animals held June 22; Leader Joan McKearnan and 15 attendees recorded animals large & small (from a white-tailed deer to white-footed mice). Butterflies & Other Insects was held on July 18, Leader Britt Forsberg and six others braved the heat to net over 40 sp. of insects.
Farewell & good luck, Jennifer Otremba, an original CW Advisors and volunteer who did the heavy-lift of getting the CWOC project online.
Spring Planting Event On the evening of May 13 (2019) ten volunteers from the community, with coordination from SPPR Natural Resources staff, planted all the trees, shrubs, plants that were bought with donations from District 10 Community Council and a CWAC member. Thanks to all involved.
City Nature Challenge in the Como Woodland & Beyond The 2019 City Nature Challenge took place April 26 - 29. For the metro area we had 5,600 observations, which broke last year's numbers of 3,358 nature observations submitted to iNaturalist website (iNaturalist.org). At the CWOC site we had 75 participants that made over 75 observations. The City Nature Challenge is an annual international effort to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition worldwide to see who can make the most observations, find the most species, and engage the most people. It was a wonderful weekend for aspiring citizen scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and science backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of plants, animals, and fungi across the world.
EcoStewards Take on Invasive Plants in the Como Woodland In the first year (2015) ten EcoStewards put in an impressive 135 hours of volunteer time working on invasive plant control and removal in Como Woods. While there they also saw and heard birds and someone even found a puff ball mushroom as big as a football. In 2019 we are up to 14 active EcoStewards volunteering in the CWOC, but we could always use more help. For more information about how to become an EcoSteward go to: http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=5296
For EcoStewards - Invasive Species Survey Need to take a quick look at the Step Method of sampling invasive species? It's posted on this website (Tools for Educators - Environmental Ed Resources page). When you are at your Como Woodland site: copies of the Step Method and Survey Datas Sheets can be obtained from the locked Tool Cache Box (forgot the combo? contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Tricia Wehrle).
Wrap-up of Dedication of Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom It's worth remembering that fine Spring day four years ago when we gathered together with students, teachers, Como Woodland Advisors, and dignitaries – all had assisted in bringing the CWOC project to fruition in one way or another and contributed to the project’s success. It was a day to celebrate the Dedication of the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) on May 20, 2015. READ MORE...
Birding List Show Eighty Species use Como Woodland The Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom (CWOC) has a bird list thanks to the dedicated work of Como Woodland Advisor, Dr. Joan McKearnan, and with financial assistance from CWOC’s long-time project partner, Saint Paul Audubon Society (SPAS). Murray Jr. High School students and Youth Conservation Corps helped collect the data. Como Woodland Advisors, Susan Jane Cheney and Ginger Kopp, helped with student data collection outings. Data collected by Como Park Sr. High School AP students at past spring Field Days were also incorporated into the list as well as bird sightings in the CWOC by local birder, Val Cunningham. Bird survey results from a baseline bird habitat analysis done in 2006 (also funded by SPAS) were compiled with all other sources. All this added up to an impressive 80 bird species sighted in Como Woodland.
*In 2019, with the help of District 10 Community Council Environment Committee, volunteers started an update of the original 2006 bird survey - we look forward to seeing their results later this year.