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Naturally Speaking with Steve Lekwa

An insightful and informed view on wildlife and the environment from former Story County Conservation Director Steve Lekwa.

Aug 13

The Value of Weeds

Posted on August 13, 2018 at 9:15 AM by Erica Place

I grew up in an agricultural community, took vocational agriculture in high school, and was even the test plot chairman for our FFA chapter for a year. My family always had large gardens and I continue to maintain gardens. A good deal of my conservation work involved trying to grow “good plants” like trees and prairie. Weeds can be any plant that's growing where we don't want it, and I learned early on that weeds are bad! After a lifetime of pulling, hoeing, spraying, mowing, and otherwise fighting weeds, I'll have to admit that I have developed at least a grudging respect for these despised members of virtually every ecosystem known to humanity.  A recent article in Pheasants Forever's magazine offered the logic that weeds are more than just an unwelcome, though natural, part of most ecosystems. They're actually a critical habitat component that many forms of wildlife can't do well without!

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Aug 06

A Trip Remembered

Posted on August 6, 2018 at 11:12 AM by Erica Place

It's hard to tell you're traveling north looking out the window along I-35. Southern Minnesota looks pretty much like Iowa with the exception of a few more oak groves scattered across the distant farm fields of corn and beans. The first hints of change came as we headed northwest out of Minneapolis. The farm fields were interspersed by more forested areas and lakes.  The first field of ripe winter wheat appeared somewhere in there, too. Wheat became more plentiful and corn less so as we continued into the incredibly flat Red River valley near Fargo, ND. The first fields of sunflowers added to the mix in that area, but soybeans held on as a major crop well into Canada.

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Jul 30

Nature Marches on Despite Weather Extremes

Posted on July 30, 2018 at 9:26 AM by Erica Place

We've seen it all this year: excessive cold, heat, rain, and more than a few violent storms with record breaking hail, straight-line winds, and tornadoes. It might seem that nature, itself, has somehow been knocked out of whack by all the extremes. Accurate weather records for our area go back for less than 150 years, though, and nature here in the midlands has seen it all before. It is marching on as it always has.

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