Dakota County has changed its policy on when outdoor warning sirens are activated.

In the past, the sirens were sounded during tornado warnings and any severe thunderstorm warnings. Sirens were activated 96 times from 2010- to 2014, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Under the new policy, effective immediately, sirens will be activated during tornado warnings, as usual, but only when sustained wind speeds reach 70 or more miles per hour during severe thunderstorm warnings.

Local police and fire departments also can have the sirens activated if they believe it is in the best interest of public safety, such as a funnel cloud sighting when no warnings have been issued.

The change was made after a recommendation from the National Weather Service, based on more accurate weather forecasting and technology, as well as wind damage information. If the policy had been in use over the past five years, the use of sirens would have been reduced by 75 percent, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Kids 6-12 can learn about animal tracks

Children ages 6 to 12 can make their own tracks with snowshoes while learning to identify the tracks, scat and other signs that animals leave behind at Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

The program geared toward homeschool students runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, 860 Cliff Rd., Eagan.

The cost is $8 per child. Registration is required; call 952-891-7000.

Teen cross-country ski lessons

Teens ages 13 to 16 can learn the basic skills of cross-country skiing at Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

The session runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and costs $15 per person. Registration is requested. Call 952-891-7000.


Bed racing returns to Buck Hill

The 17th annual Subway Bedrace for Bridging will be held Saturday afternoon at Buck Hill, 15400 Buck Hill Rd.

Teams of four, usually in costumes, will race atop queen-sized mattresses while raising money and awareness for Bridging, a nonprofit organization in the Twin Cities that provides beds and furniture.

Day-of registration is $220 per team. Registration begins at 3 p.m. with the races at 5 p.m. For more information, go to www.subwaybedrace.org.

Get help with e-books

Drop-in and get help downloading e-books to your device for free at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Burnhaven Library, 1101 W. County Rd. 42. No registration is necessary.

Recycling 101 program for seniors

People age 62 and over can get the scoop on what is recyclable and what isn’t at a program from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Burnsville City Hall, 100 Civic Center Pkwy.

Participants will “talk trash” about the biggest problem items that should not be recycled and count down the top-five things people don’t know they can recycle. Light refreshments will be provided.

The registration deadline is Monday. To register, call 952-895-4500.



Comment on plans to deal with ash borer

A public meeting to offer information on the emerald ash borer, which was found in Dakota County, and the emergency quarantine to contain the insect will be held Thursday at the Eagan Municipal Center, 3830 Pilot Knob Rd.

Experts will discuss local plans to deal with the emerald ash borer and share tips for residents. The meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. is part of a public comment period on formal quarantine plans. The quarantine limits the transportation of ash trees and limbs and hardwood firewood out of Dakota County.

Comments will be accepted at the meeting or can be sent to Mark Abrahamson at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by April 17. To submit a comment, send an e-mail to mark.abrahamson@state.mn.us or call 651-201-6505.


Feed yourself and others

The 20th annual Hastings Tastings featuring food from local restaurants, silent auction baskets, raffles and entertainment will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2035 W. 15th St.

The event benefits Hastings Family Service. Tickets are $35, which helps feed a family of five for more than a week.

For more information and a list of participating restaurants, go to www.hastingsfamilyservice.org.


Natural garden workshop

An introductory workshop about rain gardens, native gardens and other beautiful water-saving practices will be held at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Lakeville City Hall, 20195 Holyoke Av. The workshop, a part of the Blue Thumb Program, will discuss how native plants can help clean the water. Experts will share tips for addressing wet problem areas in your yard and garden, adding variety by incorporating low-maintenance native plants and determining the best plants for sun, shade and local soils.

Participants will be eligible to apply for a Blue Thumb grant that could help fund a water quality project.

The workshop is free but preregistration is preferred. For more information, go to www.lakevillemn.gov.


Community garden plots available

Applications for community garden plots in Rosemount are due to the Parks and Recreation Department by March 30.

Plots are available at Biscayne, Jaycee, Winds, and Lions Parks and at the new Flint Hills Outdoor Recreation Complex at the northeast corner of Akron Avenue and Bonaire Path. The plots are available in two sizes: 10-by-20 feet for $30, and 20-by-20 feet for $40.

Since demand for these plots has typically exceeded the number available, a lottery will be held to determine who will be awarded plots. To download an application form, go to http://www.ci.rosemount.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=607.

The lottery will be conducted and gardeners will be notified of their plot assignment in early April. For more information, call Tom Schuster at 651-322-6005.

Pat Pheifer