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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Orangutans, sun bears, and elephants – oh my!

Three days in Malaysian Borneo “I think that we are the luckiest people in the world,” my son announced as he tossed me an impish smile from the front of our boat. Yesterday, we’d been thrilled to find a pygmy elephant down by the river’s edge – our guide said it was the first he’d…

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Local school groups release baby trout into Brown’s Creek

“Put your hand over the cup so no one falls out!” Evan Griggs calls out as he leads a dozen 4th and 5th grade students through a tangle of trees to the edge of Brown’s Creek. The students, who hail from St. Jude’s of the Lake in Mahtomedi, have been raising rainbow trout in their…

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Tip-toeing through the Tamaracks

If you sit very quietly in the middle of a tamarack fen and close your eyes, you can hear a goose honking in the distance, a red-winged blackbird trilling from the cattails, and 24 little kids, desperately trying to be still. Woodbury’s Tamarack Nature Preserve is the southern-most tamarack swamp in Minnesota and a jewel…

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Stepping off the beaten path and into Mooer’s Park charm

For a big river, the Mississippi can be awfully hard to find. Though it traverses 21 miles of Washington County, from the City of Newport to the St. Croix River confluence in Hastings-Prescott, there are precious few places to access the water as it flows. To find the river here requires a road map and…

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Along came a loon and swam up beside her

I’m training for an Ironman triathlon and, despite my best intentions to prevent triathlon from taking over my life, triathlon has taken over my life. On a typical day I get up at 4:45am to fit in my first workout before starting work at 7am. I do my second workout over lunch, leaving the evening…

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Exploring the Frozen Wilderness

The BWCA is a unique American treasure with over one million acres of wilderness, 1200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails, and more than 2000 designated campsites.

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