A walk in the woods, a planted seed, new skills to learn

We went to the woods on Sunday afternoon to enjoy fresh air, warm sun reaching through frostbitten air, and no other humans in sight. For the dog, it was just like any other day. She had no idea that the world was turning upside down as she galloped across the blackened prairie, still charred from…

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Nurturing the Wild

Design with Nature Conference: Sat., Feb. 29 in St. Paul “What is that over there?” “It’s the wild,” said the mole. “Don’t fear it.” “Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid.” – Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse A friend gave us a new book for Christmas…

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Scientific and Natural Areas protect Minnesota’s natural heritage

A grasshopper perches on a tattered black-eyed susan. Two red and black striped beetles dance a tango atop a lilac spray of vervain. Gentle summer breezes carry the sound of laughter as an impish four-year old boy balances carefully on a time-weathered rock. Around him, the swaying grasses, muted prairie colors, and tumbled down, lichen-covered…

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Volunteers work to restore Fairy Falls with help from the Stillwater Area Community Foundation

Nestled deep in the woods on the north side of Stillwater, Fairy Falls is a well-loved and well-guarded local secret. Unless someone tells you where to go, you’d never think to park on the side of the road and hike through the brambles on an unmarked trail in search of a cascading waterfall, steep gorge…

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Tips for enjoying the outdoors with kids

The first thing you need to know is that at least one child will become ravenously hungry the instant you’re out of sight of the parking lot. Be prepared to fuel a four hour adventure in the wilderness, even if you are only taking a 30 minute walk in the park. Also, don’t imagine that…

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Within Warner Nature Center, pristine lakes and wildlife corridors

“Dear Loyal Supporters, I’m writing to inform you that the Warner Nature Center will be closing and winding down operations by the end of the year.” With those words, Alison Rempel Brown, President and CEO of the Science Museum of Minnesota, broke the news to staff and volunteers that a 52-year tradition will be coming…

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Tread lightly or the plants might eat you

They tried to drain the swamp, but the swamp fought back and won. For years, northern Minnesota residents struggled in vain to drain a vast peat bog stretching 500 square miles across the land. Between 1910 and 1916, they spent millions of dollars and dug more than 1500 miles of ditches to redirect water from…

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Land wanted – Must have bugs

I’m standing in the middle of a prairie making a conference call on my cellphone because that’s what working moms do. Every few minutes, I catch a glimpse of my son as he lopes into view, diving into the bee balm and through the black-eyed susans. Then suddenly he appears directly in front of me and,…

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Tales from the Great Lakes: Big waves, clear water, and research on killer bacteria

You can’t swim slowly through waves. Approach the churning water timidly, and it will slam against your face, choke you, and push you backwards towards the land. Neither can you swim over a wave or around a wave. The only path is through. The trick is to swim hard until you get past the break.…

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Enjoying the St. Croix River and working to keep it clean

Picture, if you will, a woman serenely paddling down the St. Croix River on a standup paddleboard with a boy and a dog balanced on either end. The sun is warm, the water is calm, and all is right with the world.     Level: Expert Total time to complete: 5 hours   Instructions Step 1: Pack your car the night before. (No –…

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