Calling All Salamanders (Frogs and Toads, Too)!

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Do you have some experience in scientific identification? Do you mind playing in the mud? The Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation Division is seeking volunteers to survey salamanders.

Come to an informational meeting at the Leslie Science Center on February 25, 2007 from 10-Noon. And if you want to survey frogs and toads as well as salamanders, stay for the afternoon session from 1:30-3.

Admission price is $10. Registration is required and due by February 20.

For more information call (734) 996-3266.

Its freezing, its snowing ... Time to think of your garden?

Even as winter is deepening, dedicated gardeners are beginning to think about and plan for their spring and summer gardening activities. To heighten environmental awareness Project Grow is partnering with the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship program to offer a series of special classes to gardeners designed to help protect groundwater and the local watershed. The classes are free and will be held on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm. in the Leslie Science Center Nature House. The classes will include topics such as Rain Gardens (March 7), Green Roofs (March 14), and Organic Lawn Care (March 21). Additional classes in April will be offered to help gardeners with visual impairments. These will take place on Wednesday April 11 and April 18 at 3:00 p.m. Applications for Project Grow's Community Gardens will also soon be available. To register call 996-3169.

Worms and Tours

With global warming on everyone's mind these days, you might want to check out what we are doing here in Ann Arbor about our garbage.

You may have been to the Recycle Center to drop off your odds and ends but have you been to the Materials Recovery Facility?

If you are interested in creating your own indoor composting system and meeting some worms along the way, there are two workshops being offered on Saturday February 10, 2007. Call 994-4722 to pre-register.

If you can't make it to the workshop, you can drop in Tuesday February 8 to view an active bin and go on a tour of the facility.

Millers Creek Film Festival invites entries

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Environmentalists, nature lovers and budding cinematographers are invited to enter the expanded Millers Creek Film Festival. Adults, children and groups are all eligible to enter and try to win first-place prizes of $500 in each of four categories. The festival is named for the smallest and most troubled stream in the Huron River watershed. However, films can feature any creek, lake or part of the river in the watershed. The contest is sponsored by the Huron River Watershed Council. Entries must be submitted by February 20, 2007. All finalists' entries will be shown at the Michigan Theater on March 27.

Happy Birthday Michigan

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Michigan turns 170 on Friday, January 26th. It was on that date in 1837 that Michigan joined the Union as the nation's 26th state. Join in the birthday celebration at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing on Saturday, Jan. 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hands-on activities, exhibits and even birthday cake for the first 100 visitors. In what city was the Frostbitten Convention held that paved the way for Michigan's admission to the Union?

And the Nominees are...

The Oscar nominations came out Tuesday and, as usual, there were plenty of surprises, most notably the absence of Dreamgirls in the Best Picture category. Most titles are not yet available on DVD, but you can check out Little Miss Sunshine (on order) or Meryl Streep's nominated performance in The Devil Wears Prada. We also own this year's top contender in the Best Animated Feature category, as well as Monster House. My favorites for actress and actor this year are Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker.

Mush!

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Kids can have a day of winter fun at “Chillin’ at the Mills” on Saturday, January 27 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Hudson Mills Metropark. Pull a dog sled, cross-country ski, learn about winter camping and then head over to the shelter building for hot cocoa and Girl Scout cookies courtesy of the Girl Scouts of Huron Valley Council.

Tree Town Trees Down

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If Emerald Ash Borer weren't enough, the heavy ice storm last weekend left a lot of storm-damaged tree branches all over town. The City of Ann Arbor is designing a schedule for collecting the tree limbs and brush and will assist residents with managing the private property storm-related disposal. They'll start by collecting tree limbs placed at the extensions that are longer than 8 feet and up to 8 inches in diameter. In the 2nd stage city trucks will collect bundled brush and tree limbs no longer than 4 feet in length and 8 inches in diameter. Details on the special clean-up will be posted beginning Wednesday, January 24 on the City web site, on CTN Channel 19 and by calling 994-2807.

Rethinking the Plaza

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The City of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority are seeking further input through Jan. 31, 2007 on plans to improve Sculpture Plaza. Plans include new lighting, landscaping and reconfiguring the seating and tables. Offer your comments to City Parks Planner Amy Kuras by phone at 734.994.1827 or via email akuras@a2gov.org.

Trash Day is Trash Day

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Ann Arbor trash collection days will be unaffected by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday January 15th. Regular trash pickups will occur Jan. 15th - Jan. 20th. City Hall will be closed on MLK Day but the Drop-Off Station will be open.

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