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. There is also an annual St. Paul Parks clean-up day in the spring.
- 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.
We rescheduled this event Seed Squad Thursday, September 29, 9am to 2pm. Volunteers collect seeds from native plants growing in Como Woodland. The collected seed will later be sown and/or propagated and planted to increase plant diversity for wildlife and pollinators. It was Service Leaning Day: U of M students collected seeds from 9am to 11am and EcoStewards collected from 11:30am to 2pm Our partners are Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Natural Resources.
Summer 2018 in CWOC. We welcomed the first day of summer, June 20, with a fun (yes, fun) burdock bust. Thanks to Saint Paul Audubon Society (SPAS) for choosing the Como Woodland again for their 3rd Annual Birds & Burdock event. Over 40 middle school volunteers started the morning with birding tours guided by SPAS members and Como Woodland Advisors. Saint Paul Natural Resources staff provided binoculars and support for the burdock-busting portion of the event. And SPAS’s Conservation Committee treated everyone to lunch around the Kilmer Fireplace when our work was done. Throughout the summer many more volunteer hours were devoted to both burdock and garlic mustard removal in CWOC by EcoStewards and other volunteers. And, according to the EcoSteward volunteers of the Wet Forest plot, both burdock and garlic mustard were very much in decline in their plot this growing season – they believe it shows that all the volunteer invasive species removal has had a significant effect on controlling burdock and garlic mustard. Native plants in the Wet Forest plot have gotten a chance to fill in and thrive where invasive plants dominated just a few years ago!
The Conservation Corps of Minnesota has summer youth employment program. High school age youth work on conservation projects on both local public lands-primarily city and state owned areas and farther away such as the Chippewa and Superior National Forests in northern Minnesota. In early August the group met with Teri Heyer, urban connections city coordinator with the USDA Forest Service, who explained the mission of the Forest Service and how interconnected forests are emphasizing that the restoration work done in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom can have a ripple effect on the Forests of northern Minnesota. Later the group of 9 youth and 4 crew leaders helped to pull both garlic mustard and burdock in the CWOC.
The 2018 City Nature Challenge in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom & Beyond. And we are already planning for 2019. On the weekend of April 28, 2018, even with our late arrival of Spring, 3,358 nature observations were submitted to iNaturalist website (iNaturalist.org) by 339 Twin Cities citizen scientists. At the CWOC Great River School students made over 30 observations alone. 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 where over 60 cities worldwide compete 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. Como Woodland volunteers (thank you: Teri, Britt, Joan, Gary, Deb) were on hand for the 2018 City Nature Challenge at the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom on April 28. And a special Thanks to Britt Forsberg for teaching the free workshop "Using Apps for Citizen Science." Registration for the original workshop date was full, but a spring snowstorm forced a rescheduled date which was well-attended.
Thinning of Trees in Como Woodland For many of you who regularly walk through the Como Woodland the sight of trees being cut down in the Fall of 2017 provoked curiosity in some and alarm in others. While the removal of any native tree from Como Woodland is unfortunate, it is, however, a necessary activity for maintaining the health of the woodland and for the safety of the public who visit the woodland.Many non-native trees and shrubs were also removed, but emerald ash borer (EAB) infected ash trees were the primary native trees removed along with dead and dying oaks.
Late last Fall, four Saint Paul City forestry specialists as well as a Como Woodland Advisor (also a professional forester) evaluated the trees for health and hazard. Saint Paul Parks & Recreation’s Environmental Coordinator, Adam Robbins, explained “We identified approximately two dozen trees that needed to come down right away. . . we took advantage of having the [specialized] equipment available and removed a handful of hanging limbs on other large trees as well. As all of the ash trees removed were infested with EAB, and dead green ash tend to drop branches quickly, we only left a small number of wildlife snags . . .”
The good news is that some replacement plantings are being done – native bareroot trees were purchased with a small donation from Como Woodland Advisory Committee and some of those trees have already been planted. With a little help from nature and us those empty spaces in the woodland will be filled in with the growth of healthy native trees and shrubs.
EcoStewards Take on the Invasives in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom 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 2018 we are up to 15 active EcoStewards volunteering in the CWOC, but we could 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 was a fine Spring day we will never forget: we gathered together students, teachers, Como Woodland Advisors, and dignitaries – all has 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) now has a new and improved 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 new 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 (our next Field Day is scheduled for May 30, 2018) 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.