Explore, volunteer at Wild River State Park

Wild River State Park has packed away the snowshoes, skis and maple syruping supplies and is ready for the summer. Several activities and volunteer opportunities are fast approaching, so plan ahead and mark your calendars:

Native Plant Sale: Sunday, May 20 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), Wild River State Park Visitor Center

Landscape Photography Workshop with Gary Nelson: Monday, May 28 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Wild River State Park Visitor Center. Registration required (651-583-2925).

Teachers and Community Groups: Spring field trips are booking up, and hands are needed on the freshly burned prairies this year. The park, as always, appreciates volunteerism and offers plenty of volunteer opportunities in restoring, preserving and sharing its unique resoures.

Find more activities, all-year long, visit www.mndnr.gov/wildriver.

Prairie care roll call

It’s that time of year to take inventory of the park’s Prairie Care species. Species stewards — whether you’d like to keep the same species as last year, switch species or take on a new challenge, please send an e-mail to kacie.carlson@state.mn.us so park records can be updated and proofed for 2012. Call or e-mail, too, if anyone is insterested in becoming a special steward.

Volunteer rendezvous

Participate in a workshop on Saturday, June 16 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) that will focus half on training and preparing volunteers for work in state parks and half on prairie restoration techniques. The day will conclude with a guided walk through the prairie by Dave Crawford. Past, present and future volunteers and friends are encouraged to attend. Participants should bring a lunch, water, good walking shoes and be prepared to be outside. Call 651-583-2925 for more information and to register.

Buckets, buckets, buckets!

Are you looking to do something with all the ice cream pails on your shelves? If so, the park will take them. Groups of students use up to 200 buckets at a time to help spread native seed on the prairies, and some of the park’s current containers are in rough shape. Feel free to drop buckets at the park, or the park will arrange a pick-up

Help wanted: Visitor Center host/hostess

If you enjoy people and have one or two Fridays or Saturdays a month open, then consider helping the visitors of Wild River State Park. With naturalists busy doing programming, the park relies on volunteers to keep the Visitor Center open and questions answered. Shifts are typically 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, May through September. It’s a fun job and great experience for job/career seekers. If interested, contact naturalist Kacie Carlson at 651-583-2925 or kacie.carlson@state.mn.us.

Nature coming alive

Wildflowers blooming: Large-flowered and Nodding Trillium; Wild Geranium; Canada, Blue, and Yellow Violets; Jack-in-the-Pulpit; Wild Blue Phlox; Wood and False Rue Anemone; Spring Beauty; Wild Strawberry; Yellow Rocket.

Birds spotted and/or calling: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Mallard and Wood Duck, Song and Field Sparrow, Sandhill Crane, Green-winged Teal, Eastern Phoebe, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Towhee, Common Yellowthroat, Golden-winged Warbler, Henslow’s Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Woodcock, Oven bird, House Wren, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler.

• Tiger Swallowtails and Red Admiral butterflies are back.

• Frogs are calling and turtles are basking.

• Two eaglets have been spotted sitting in the “Nevers Dam nest.”

• The black bears have been visiting the bird feeders at night.

• Water has been turned on throughout the park.

• Horse trails are open.

• Camping and cabin reservations are now being taken for up to one year in advance: www.dnr.state.mn.us/reservations.

— Kacie Carlson, interpretive naturalist, can be reached at 651-583-2925 at Wild River State Park, 39797 Park Trail, Center City. Directions from I-35: Take exit 147 at North Branch and head east on Hwy. 95 for 14 miles to Almelund. Take a left (north) on Co. Rd. 12 for 3 miles. Roadway ends at park entrance.

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