Zebra mussels confirmed in Hand Lake in Cass County; Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the source: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2019/07/11/zebra-mussels-confirmed-in-hand-lake-in-cass-county-upper-cormorant-lake-in-becker-county/

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Hand Lake in Cass County and Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County. Two smaller lakes and an unnamed wetland connected to Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels.b

A Cass County watercraft inspector found a plant with attached zebra mussels on a boat coming from Hand Lake. Divers then found a 1-inch, adult zebra mussel in Hand Lake. The DNR is conducting further analyses to better determine the distribution of zebra mussels in the lake.

DNR divers conducted a search of Upper Cormorant Lake and found seven adult zebra mussels in four locations. Nelson Lake, Middle Cormorant Lake and an unnamed wetland connected to and downstream of Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels. The wetland flows into Big Cormorant Lake, where zebra mussels were confirmed in July of 2015.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:
  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the water access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:
  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Once-threatened peregrines flying high across Minnesota

Original article written by Euan Kerr at MPR News: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/07/11/peregrines-make-a-remarkable-comeback-in-minnesota

Two adult peregrine falcons pestered climbers Mark Mussell and Cody Benz as they prepared to rappel down the cliff at Shovel Point, near the birds’ nest in Tettegouche State Park. The birds flew by screeching, putting on high-speed aerobatic displays just feet from the climbers’ heads.

It was a remarkable sight, considering the peregrine was wiped out in Minnesota in 1964, a victim of widespread use of the pesticide DDT after World War II.

“In less than 20 years’ time they went from endangered to fully recovered,” said Jackie Fallon, vice chair of field operations for the Midwest Peregrine Society. “And there is no other endangered species program worldwide that has had that amount of success in such a short time period.”

Staff and volunteers at Tettegouche State Park, on Lake Superior’s north shore, just wrapped up their peregrine banding program.

That’s what Mussell and Benz were doing cliffside, temporarily kidnapping a pair of chicks to take them up top to Fallon who would attach bands that would allow them to be tracked over time.

Tettegouche’s interpretive naturalist Kurt Mead enjoys meeting each new batch of peregrine chicks. “It gives me goosebumps every time,” he said. “It does not get old.”

Last year Tettegouche celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first wild peregrine nesting post-recovery. This year there are two peregrine pairs nesting in the park, and possibly three, although Mead said no one had actually located that nest.

Peregrine falcons are the fastest moving living things on the planet. While hunting they can dive at 150 mph.

But they weren’t equipped to deal with DDT, which made its way up the food chain from bugs eaten by small birds, then to the falcons and eagles that consumed the smaller prey.

“It was a wonderful pesticide which did what it was supposed to,” Fallon said. But, “the eggshells became so thin that just the adult birds sitting on the eggs would cause the shells to crack and therefore the birds weren’t able to replace themselves.”

“So by the 1960s peregrines were completely extirpated east of the Mississippi,” she said.

The government banned DDT in 1972, and the next year peregrines made the endangered species list. In 1982 efforts began to reintroduce the peregrine on cliffs along the Mississippi.

In time organizers began releasing birds elsewhere around the state. They included downtown Minneapolis and St Paul, and on the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, all places where Fallon says the tall buildings mimicked cliff habitat.

“And then in 1987 we had our very first successful wild peregrine fledge off of City Center or Multifoods,” Fallon said.

That bird was banded as a chick and named Maude. She headed north to Canada and helped establish a new peregrine colony there.

Releases in northern Minnesota established birds here at Tettegouche, as well as at some iron ore pits in the area.

This is a busy time of year for Fallon, moving between nesting sites around the state, to count and band as many chicks as possible. She estimates between 120 to 135 baby peregrines have been produced this season.

The two newly banded chicks at Tettegouche should be flying off the cliffs and skimming the pristine waters of Lake Superior by the end of this month.

One of the climbers who rappelled down the cliff wore a GoPro video camera on his helmet. During the climb, the camera fell off and into Lake Superior. (See the end of the video to watch the plunge!)

“As soon as his head emerged above the ledge, I noticed the GoPro was gone,” wrote the camera’s owner, photographer Derek Montgomery in an email to MPR News. “Nervously I told myself ‘Don’t worry. He just put it in a bag on his side.’ But then when I approached him after he was topside, he went to retrieve the GoPro and when it wasn’t there the look on his face told me all I needed to know.”

Montgomery immediately thought to ask Christian Dalbec for help. Dalbec is a well-known underwater photographer, and Montgomery saw news reports that he had just reunited a couple with a camera and photos they lost off the Two Harbors breakwater three years ago.

Montgomery sent Dalbec a Facebook message and received a quick response: He would try to find the camera.

“So I went home hopeful it would be found, but not too confident because the lake is big and a GoPro is really tiny,” Montgomery said.

The next day, Dalbec took a boat to the area below the cliff where it was lost. He was able to find it sitting on a ledge about 18 feet down — a lucky break since if it had shifted a few more feet, it would have fallen to an area that was 80 feet deep.

“I was lucky on a lot of fronts that day and extremely thankful for Christian being willing to search for it on such short notice,” Montgomery said.

A peregrine falcon flies over Lake Superior near its nesting site.A peregrine falcon flies over Lake Superior near its nesting site July 1 as climbers retrieve two chicks from its nest at Tettegouche State Park near Silver Bay, Minn. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Volunteer climber Mark Mussell prepares to descend onto the cliffs.Volunteer climber Mark Mussell prepares to descend onto the cliffs at Tettegouche State Park while a sign warns visitors about a peregrine falcon nesting site in the area. Below Mussell is fellow climber Cody Benz, wearing the blue helmet. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Ropes supporting two climbers descend off the cliffs toward Lake Superior.Ropes supporting two climbers descend off the cliffs toward Lake Superior July 1 at Tettegouche State Park near Silver Bay, Minn. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Jackie Fallon applies a band to the leg of a peregrine falcon chick.Kurt Mead, interpretive naturalist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, holds a peregrine falcon chick while Jackie Fallon, vice president of field operations with the Midwest Peregrine Society, applies a band to the chick’s leg. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

A peregrine falcon flies over Lake Superior near its nesting site.A peregrine falcon flies over Lake Superior near its nesting site. Tettegouche State Park has been the site of up to three nesting pairs in any given year, which researchers say is significant. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Cody Benz lifts a black box containing two peregrine falcon chicks.Volunteer climber Cody Benz lifts a black box containing two peregrine falcon chicks. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Kurt Mead holds a chick while Jackie Fallon applies a band to its leg.Kurt Mead (left) holds a peregrine falcon chick while Jackie Fallon (right) applies a band to the chick’s leg. Bands cannot be applied if the chicks are younger than 14 days old and they try to avoid banding chicks older than 22 or 23 days old. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Erin Hall holds a rope for climbers Mark Mussell and Cody Benz.Erin Hall, a naturalist intern at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, holds a rope for climbers Mark Mussell and Cody Benz (not pictured because they were on the cliffs). Derek Montgomery for MPR News

A sign warns visitors about a peregrine falcon nesting site in the area.Volunteer climber Cody Benz prepares to descend onto the cliffs at Tettegouche State Park while a sign warns visitors about a peregrine falcon nesting site. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Two peregrine falcon chicks rest on the ground after getting banded.Two peregrine falcon chicks rest on the ground after researchers placed bands on them. The banding is part of an ongoing effort to monitor the peregrine falcons, which had disappeared from the region by the mid 1960s due to the pesticide DDT. Derek Montgomery for MPR News

Birding Update

Credit to Explore Minnesota for this Birding Update.

Trumpeter swans with cygnets / Travis Novitsky

July Nature Notes

This is a special time of year when abundant warm and sunny days are enhanced by the sights and sounds of birds with their fledglings. Birders and non-birders alike are delighted by the sight of common loon parents with chicks on their backs. While loon chicks can swim just after hatching, they usually ride on their parents’ backs where they are most safe. Listen for the distinctive calls echoing across large Minnesota lakes. Haunting wails are used to communicate and relay location, and the laughter-like tremolos are used as an alarm call and to defend territory. Hear these and other calls at All About Birds’ Common Loon Sounds.


Common loon with chick / Don Dammert

Minnesota lakes, rivers and wetlands offer the sights and sounds of many waterbird species and their young. Look and listen for ducksgrebesswansgeesemergansersherons and egrets. Also enjoy the interesting antics of the American white pelican. These graceful fliers work together to corral fish into the shallows of southern and western Minnesota’s prairie pothole lakes. Some of the better locations to view pelicans are within the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters region such as the spillway on Marsh Lake near Appleton, the dam near Watson and the Minnesota River dam in Granite Falls.


Great blue heron / Liz Stanley

If you find yourself near a floodplain forest (low-lying areas at the bottom of river valleys), look upward and scan the tree canopies for rookeries where great blue herons, great egrets and double-crested cormorants nest. The Friends of the Mississippi River explain more about rookeries and great blue herons at Now Showing at a Rookery Near You.


Little blue heron / David Cahlander

Consider renting a row boat, canoe or kayak to get close-up views of shorebirds, waterfowl and wading birds. This is an excellent way to introduce a child to birding. Explore Minnesota offers a list of businesses and sites that offer boat rental. For watercraft rental at Minnesota’s state and regional parks, check out Minnesota’s Great Outdoors.


Green heron / Al Ferber

Did You Know?

Each summer, following nesting season, most waterfowl lose and replace their feathers. During this molting process, ducks, geese and other waterfowl species are unable to fly. They are also much more vulnerable. But towards the end of July, these birds will be able to fly once again. This is also when their young will be attempting to fly for the first time.


Great egret / Stanley Adrian

While the fall migration seems a long way off, a few shorebird species are already heading to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Some of the earliest species to migrate include lesser yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, least sandpipers, solitary sandpipers and pectoral sandpipers. Many of these birds have completed their short nesting period and their young are now self-sufficient. A second migration occurs in September when the young begin their journeys south. To view these early migrants, check the shallow wetlands and mudflats.


Roosting egrets / Liz Stanley

According to The Birding Wire’s Water Attracts All Birds, the best way to draw a variety of birds to your backyard is to provide a reliable source of water. Not only do birds need a consistent source of water to drink from, they need water to maintain healthy feathers. Partially filled bird baths offer a supply of shallow water so all birds, including smaller bird species such as finches and warblers, can drink and bathe. Try to place your birdbath in a shady area near trees and/or shrubs to keep the water cooler on hot summer days and to provide the birds an easy escape if threatened.


American white pelican / John Morrison

Birding Events and Programs

July 6, 13, 20 & 27, Ely
Birding at Bear Head 
Enjoy a guided walk to listen and look for the variety of bird species. A limited number of binoculars will be available for free checkout — please bring your own if possible. Insect repellent is recommended. Bear Head Lake State Park. 218-235-2520


Swans in a row / Wayne Bartz

July 10-24, Minneapolis
Bird Watching: Summertime Songbirds
Get up with the birds during this Wednesday morning series to discover what to look for when identifying birds in the field. Learn about bird songs, calls and other behaviors while strolling through prairie, woodland and along the river with a naturalist and keeping eyes and ears open for our feathered friends. Binoculars available. Coffee, tea and treats provided. Kroening Interpretive Center, part of North Mississippi Regional Park, at 4900 Mississippi Court. 612-230-6400


Canada geese and goslings / David Cahlander

July 13, Altura
Live Eagle Program
Want to see a live bald eagle up close? Staff from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha will be at Whitewater to share the tremendous comeback story of our national bird. They will introduce the bald eagle’s life history and why the Mississippi River and the blufflands are so important to the eagle’s survival. Whitewater State Park. 507-312-2300


Western grebe / Dan Tallman

July 13, Marine on St. Croix
Bird Nest Mystery
Head to the nature station for a chance to see and hear some of the incredible feathered creatures that live at William O’Brien State Park. A naturalist will take you on a journey into the secret lives of these mysterious animals. Binoculars provided. William O’Brien State Park. 651-539-4986


Female hooded merganser / Danielle Porter Born Photography

July 18, Minneapolis
Nightime Nature Fun
Join park ranger Sharon Stiteler and entomologist Jessica Miller as they use black lights and sheets to see what moths and insects visit Coldwater Spring at night. Also look and listen for other night active critters like deer, owls, raccoons or even coyotes. Take the trail from the main entrance at Coldwater toward the dog park. Head toward the big lights. Coldwater Spring, part of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area. 651-291-8164


Male hooded merganser / Danielle Porter Born Photography

July 20, Meadowlands
Bog BioBlitz: Bog to Ridge BioBlitz VII
Friends of Sax-Zim Bog have made this a populra annual summer event. In 2018, more than 40 folks went in the field to learn about birds, orchids, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, moths, wildflowers, fish and bog ecology. Over 400 species were recorded on that single day in July! Sax-Zim Bog. 218-341-3350


Cormorants at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge / Cristine Nicholson

July 20, Taylors Falls
Guess That Bird: Investigation Station
Minnesota is filled with a variety of birds of all colors, shapes and sizes. How well do you think you know them? Can you guess based on their looks or their songs? Some of them even sing their own name. Drop by the investigation station near the visitor center and test your skills with a naturalist. Interstate State Park. 651-465-5711


Lesser yellowlegs / David Cahlander

July 20, Roseville
Birds and Trees
Join the staff at Langton Lake Park for a stroll to observe and identify birds and trees, and consider their interactions. Meet at the parking lot on County Road C2 at the west side of the lake. Langton Lake Park. 651-636-6475

Least sandpiper / Larry Sirvio

July 23, Bloomington
Bass Ponds Bird Walk 
Attend a bird walk with Craig Mandel, Volunteer Refuge Naturalist, and search the Bass Ponds area for birds that call the Refuge home for the summer. Birders of all skill levels are welcome on these walks. Bring along your binoculars and favorite field guide. Preregistration is not required. For a map of the location and information on the numerous sites within the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to view birds, check out Birding Spots. Bass Ponds at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 952-240-7647


Solitary sandpiper / Bruce Lees

July 27, Taylors Falls
Who Soars Here?: Investigation Station
Look up above the river and you’ll see a variety of birds soaring in search of food. Who are these birds. Drop by this ongoing investigation station to find out. Interstate State Park. 651-465-5711


Pectoral sandpiper / Larry Sirvio

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program Biodiversity

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their report: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snap/biodiversity.html

Prairie wildflowers at Mound Prairie SNA with wooded bluffland landscape in the background

Determining the best candidates for Natural Area protection is a complex process. Natural area conservation planning focuses on areas of high biodiversity. We use the following tools, concepts and resources to evaluate and manage sites.

The value of biodiversity (the variety of life and its processes)

Minnesota’s biodiversity has evolved over millennia into complex ecosystems. A myriad of species interact with each other and environmental factors such as soils, topography, hydrology and climate within these ecosystems.

Preserving biodiversity has benefits (ecosystem services) such as:

  • Maintaining healthy, stable plant and animal populations
  • Protecting genetic diversity
  • Protecting water and soil resources
  • Filtering pollution and nutrient recycling
  • Contributing to climate stability and carbon storage
  • Recovering from catastrophic events
  • Providing sources for food, medicine and other products
  • Research, education and monitoring
  • Recreation, tourism and inspiration

In areas where biodiversity is threatened, losing species can affect the ecosystem’s ability to function properly and provide these services. Maintaining biodiversity reduces voids and the entire ecosystem maintains a higher degree of resilience.

Conservation planning for natural areas focuses on areas of high biodiversity as well as habitats for rare species.

Resilience as a strategy

Resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbance. Resilience is critical to reducing climate change and fragmentation from land development. As climate change affects ecosystems they will face increasing vulnerability. An effective strategy at easing these negative impacts is to build resilience into native communities by:

  • Creating large protected areas and corridors to provide pathways for species to migrate to more suitable habitats
  • Preserving a greater variety of habitats for desirable species

The SNA program is using both strategies for resilience to maintain Minnesota’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity significance rankings

Biodiversity significance is a ranking based on the size and condition of native plant communities and how they fit in an ecological landscape. It also includes the presence or absence of rare species populations. The rankings are ‘outstanding’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘below’. Ecologists with the Minnesota Biological Survey determine this status. This ranking is used to help prioritize Natural Area protection efforts.

Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS)

Ecological landscape classifications are used to identify, describe, and map progressively smaller areas of land with increasingly uniform ecological features. Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS) uses biotic and environmental factors, including climate, geology, topography, soils, hydrology and vegetation.

The largest units of the ECS are provinces and are defined primarily by climate. Minnesota has four provinces. Provinces are divided into 10 sections based on glacial deposits, topography and plant distributions. The 26 subsections of the ECS are further refined by local vegetation, especially trees, among other factors. Individual Scientific and Natural Areas note the subsection in which they are located. Native plant communities are a finer grading of the classification system.

Minnesota’s Native Plant Communities

Local groupings of trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs that interact with each other and their environment are called native plant communities and are characterized by the kinds and quantities of species they contain. They form recognizable units, such as oak savannas, pine forests, cattail marshes and other communities that tend to repeat over space and time.

Plant communities are subject to change. They form in response to climate and nutrients, as well as catastrophic flooding and fires. In the absence of change, they can be fairly stable over time. However they can also develop into something complete new. For example, a beaver dam can cause significant flooding and as a result, over a period of time, a new community will form in the flooded area. Places where native species have been largely replaced are no longer considered native plant communities.

Native plant communities serve as the basis for evaluating Scientific and Natural Area priorities. The Minnesota Biological Survey has identified, surveyed, and prioritized communities and rare species for research and conservation. Minnesota’s Native Plant Community Classification serves as a standard for ecologists to identify and assess communities. Some individual Scientific and Natural Areas have detail maps showing their native plant communities

Minnesota’s Rare Species

Rare species, are defined under Minnesota law as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. The DNR identifies which species are at greatest risk of disappearance. The law restricts harming those species that are designated as endangered or threatened. Natural Areas protect critical habitat for these rare species.

Fourth of July Fireworks: Where to watch in Minnesota

Credit to Jiwon Choi of MPR News

Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.
Wherever you are around the state, you’re not far away from a patriotic pyrotechnic display for the Fourth of July. Jon Sullivan

4th of July Firework Shows

Credit to Explore Minnesota: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNEXPLORE/bulletins/24f0647

Fireworks during the Spicer 4th of July Celebration, July 4-7

 

Event highlights this week include:

July 3-4, Worthington
Beach Bash & Old Fashioned 4th of July

July 4-14, Lakeville
Pan-O-Prog

July 3-4, Pequot Lakes
Stars & Stripes Days

July 4, Park Rapids
Hometown 4th of July

July 4, Ely
July 4th Parade & Fireworks

And be sure to check out Where to Watch Fireworks in Minnesota!

 

[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central]
[Minneapolis-St. Paul Area] [Southern]

Southern Minnesota

June 28 – July 4, Austin
Freedom Fest
Celebrate our Independence Day with parades, sporting events, games, food, an arts and craft fair, vendors, live music, fireworks display, contests, street dance, Hog Jog 5 Mile Run, Mini Piggy Fun Run, 25-mile bike race, free kids’ fishing contest and more! Band Shell Community Park. 507-437-4561

June 30 – July 21, Winona
Minnesota Beethoven Festival
The Minnesota Beethoven Festival offers a broad range of concerts to satisfy a variety of musical tastes. There are 11 concerts planned including headliner Joshua Bell. Other guest artists to perform include clarinetist Julian Bliss, the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the Parker Quartet, and 2017 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Yekwon Sunwoo. Various venues in Winona. 507-474-9055

July 1-4, Cannon Falls
Cannon Valley Fair
The Cannon Vally Fair 4th of July celebration features a midway, grandstand demolition derbies, harness races, 4-H and Open Class competitions, livestock exhibits, and all the things you would associate with a real hometown fair. The Cannon Valley Fair culminates with traditional fireworks at dusk on July 4. Cannon Valley Fairgrounds. 507-263-3548

July 3-4, Worthington
Beach Bash & Old Fashioned 4th of July
On July 3, don’t miss the Beach Bash at Centennial Park with fun activities, games, great fair food, beer garden and country music by The Chris Hawkey Band! On July 4, see history come to life at Pioneer Village’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration. Pioneer Village is a historical attraction located next to the Nobles County Fairgrounds. Also on the 4th, enjoy a Boat Parade near the old power plant on the east end of Lake Okabena at 8:30 p.m. Decorations and lights are encouraged. Then at dusk, “ooh and aah” during the fireworks display over Lake Okabena! 507-372-2919

July 4, Mankato
Red, Hot & Boom! – Mankato
Celebrate the 4th of July in Mankato and enjoy a giant fireworks display, as well as performances from City Mouse and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra! Free admission. Vetter Stone Amphitheater. 507-385-6660

July 4, Luverne
4th of July at the Lake
Enjoy a great day at the lake during Luverne’s 4th of July celebration. Festivities include games for children, fair food, beer garden, triathlon, log-rolling, a dock dog contest, sand castle contest, bingo, Quaddleball tournament, inflatables and a fireworks display! The lake at West Edgehill Street and Walnut Street S. 507-283-4061

July 4, St. Peter
Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration
St. Peter’s old-fashioned 4th of July celebration includes a 90-unit parade on Washington Ave., live music, 8K run and 5K walk event, food vendors, beer tent, children’s games and activities in Minnesota Square Park from noon until 4 p.m., and a fireworks display at the Nicollet County Fairgrounds at 10 p.m. 507-934-3400

July 5-20 (Fridays & Saturdays), Walnut Grove
Wilder Pageant
The Wilder Pageant is a family-oriented outdoor drama based on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Walnut Grove. Nightly live performances feature all the characters from the Walnut Grove area. Laura narrates the story, reflecting on her life in Walnut Grove in the 1870s. Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. 507-859-2174

July 12-13, Madelia
Madelia Park Days, Blues Festival and Arts & More Fair
Family fun in Madelia! Highlights include a kick-off Grande Parade on Friday, followed by live music, fireworks and more live music. Saturday features all-day fun with 70-plus vendors at the 5th Annual Rivers Edge Art & More Fair, the 7th Annual Watona Park Blues Festival, 7th Annual Madelia Community Hospital & Clinic 5K Run/Walk, Kids’ Fun Zone, giant inflatables, food vendors, Schell’s Beer & Wine Wagon, Carp Classic Fishing Tournament, bean bag tournament, Kids’ Tractor Pull and much more! Watona Park on the Watonwan River. 507-642-8822

July 12-13, Edgerton
Edgerton Dutch Festival
The 70th Annual Edgerton Dutch Festival features two parades, a fun run, fishing contest, kids’ mutton busting, helicopter rides, street dance and a concert by Hairball! 507-442-7891

July 18-20, New Ulm
Bavarian Blast
In its 14th year, Bavarian Blast returns to celebrate Bavarian heritage and culture. From the moment you arrive at this weekend-long festival you will be surrounded by all things German. This festival has something for everyone with its wide variety of German food, German-American music under big top tents, Schell’s Beer, 1919 Rootbeer, the famous Bavarian Blast Parade and uniquely German contests such as the stein holding contest, sauerkraut eating competition and barrel rolling races. On Sunday, don’t miss the Polka Service. Brown County Fairgrounds. 507-233-4300

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

March 1 – Sept. 28, Chanhassen
Mamma Mia!
One mom. One daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. 952-934-1525

May 17 – Oct. 27, Minneapolis
The Vikings Begin
This extraordinary new exhibition features dozens of early Viking artifacts from boat graves, organized by Uppsala University in Sweden and its museum, Gustavianum, which is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Viking and pre-Viking objects. The exhibition at ASI is the Midwest premiere of a collection that has never been outside of Scandinavia until this year, with many finds that are around 1400 years old. American Swedish Institute. 612-871-4907

May 25 – Sept. 2, Apple Valley
Llama Trek
You ‘herd’ right… Llamas are at the Minnesota Zoo! This summer, get a taste of South America right here in Minnesota. Llama Trek is an immersive outdoor experience that gives you the chance to walk freely among some of the coolest characters of the Andes Mountains. Get up close and wander, without barriers, among free-roaming llamas and some of their mountain dwelling neighbors. Located along the Northern Trail, Llama Trek also features guinea pigs, flightless birds known as rheas, and highlights conservation efforts being made to help endangered wild chinchillas. Llama Trek is included with general Zoo admission. Minnesota Zoo. 952-431-9200

July 2-4, Chanhassen
City of Chanhassen’s 4th of July Celebration
Head to Chanhassen for this three day, fun filled event for the whole family. Event highlights include Midwest Carnival rides and concessions, pony rides, Family Night at the Carnival, the Taste of Chanhassen, a street dance featuring the Fabulous Armadillos, kids’ fishing contest, The Medicine Show featuring Vaudeville, 4th of July parade, live music, face painting, Wacky Hair, Fireworks Spectacular and more. City Center Park & Lake Ann. 952-227-1100

July 2-4, Coon Rapids
Coon Rapids 4th of July Community Celebration
Enjoy the 2019 Coon Rapids 4th of July Community Celebration featuring family fun for everyone. A parade kicks of the celebration on July 2. Other highlights during the festival include carnival games, rides, live music, bingo, a car show, the Firecracker 5K, 10K and Kids’ Sparkler Dash, food trucks and drink vendors, and some of the best fireworks in the Twin Cities. 763-767-6582

June 2 – Aug. 18, Minneapolis
Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists 2019 Beadwork Show at MIA
Women have long been the creative force behind Native art. Presented in close cooperation with top Native women artists and scholars, this first major exhibition of artwork by Native women honors the achievements of over 115 artists from the United States and Canada spanning over 1,000 years. Their triumphs — from pottery, textiles, and painting, to photographic portraits, to a gleaming El Camino — display astonishing innovation and technical mastery. The New York Times calls this exhibition “much-anticipated” and ArtForum says it’s “groundbreaking.” Minneapolis Institute of Art. 612-870-3000

July 3, Bloomington
Bloomington Summer Fete
Summer Fete is a family-fun festival that kicks off Independence Day in the Twin Cities. This year’s fun starts with a Kids’ Carnival Area, live music at the Kid’s Stage and Main Stage featuring a great line-up of performers, a wide array of food vendors and food trucks, and of course, a fantastic fireworks display just after dusk. Normandale Lake Park. 952-563-8877

July 3-4, Eagan
July 4th Funfest
Be sure to bring friends and family to the July 4th Funfest for thrilling rides, carnival fun, the colorful parade, live music by The Gear Daddies and Transit Authority, DJ music throughout the day, the Royal Brain Freeze, a car show and more. And don’t miss the region’s largest display of fireworks at dusk on July 4th. Central Park Festival Grounds. 651-675-5546

July 4, Afton
Afton 4th of July Parade and Celebration
Afton’s annual 4th of July celebration is bursting with fun for the whole family. In addition to the parade, enjoy live music, a bounce house, food vendors, crafts, vendor tents and a beer garden tent. Free trolley rides will be offered within the Village of Afton during the day. Afton’s Town Square Park. 651-436-8883

July 4, Minneapolis
Red, White and Boom
Celebrate America’s Independence Day at Minneapolis Red, White and Boom, a celebration hosted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. This annual event attracts more than 75,000 people to sites along the downtown Minneapolis riverfront, and features live music, the Red, White & Boom TC Half Marathon, Relay and 5K, great food, fun activities for the whole family, and the grand finale – fireworks! Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront. 612-230-6400

July 4, St. Paul
Independence Day Celebration
Spend the United States’ birthday at Historic Fort Snelling and explore the history of freedom in 19th-century America. Discover how many Americans celebrated the holiday nearly two centuries ago, complete with cannon and musket salutes, military dress parades, fife and drum music and much more. Visit interactive learning stations around the fort and learn about the struggles for freedom and independence for several different groups of Americans—such as enslaved people, Native Americans, and women—while exploring the question “What does freedom mean today?” Historic Fort Snelling. 612-726-1171

July 4-14, Lakeville
Pan-O-Prog
This festival begins with 4th of July fireworks. The following week includes numerous events including a carnival, Beer, Brats & Bingo, dances, the Grande Parade, picnics, classic car show, talent contest, car show, 32nd Annual Cruise Night, golf tournament, contests and more! Historic downtown Lakeville. 952-985-4400

July 7, Prior Lake
Michael McDonald and Chaka Khan
Celebrated artists and enduring forces in popular music Michael McDonald and Chaka Khan are bringing their co-headlining tour to the Mystic Showroom. McDonald’s solo career took off with a string of hits including “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” “Sweet Freedom,” “On My Own” and the James Ingram duet “Yah Mo B There.” Chaka Khan blazed onto the music scene as a solo artist with hits “I’m Every Woman” and “What Cha Gonna Do For Me?” She propelled to superstardom with the chart-topper “I Feel For You.” Mystic Lake Hotel & Casino. 952-496-6563

July 10-14, Maple Grove
Maple Grove Days
Maple Grove Days, a five day city festival hosting over 40 events for all ages, includes a car show, races, business expo, parade, live music, coronation, children’s run, kids’ parade, diaper derby, outdoor movie, inflatable rides, fishing, paddle boarding, Zumba workouts, garden tours, and much more. Various locations in Maple Grove. 763-494-5985

July 12-13, Minneapolis
Basilica Block Party
Don’t miss this two day line-up of premiere music with headliner acts such as Kacey Musgraves, Semisonic, The Jayhawks, Jason Mraz and CHVRCHES. The Basilica Block Party began in 1995 as a fundraiser to help pay for the structural restoration of The Basilica of Saint Mary. Today, proceeds from the event benefit The Basilica Landmark, which preserves, restores and advances the historic Basilica of Saint Mary for all generations. The Basilica of Saint Mary. 612-333-1381

July 13, Anoka
Anoka Riverfest & Craft Fair
The 21st Annual Anoka Riverfest & Craft Fair will be held in historic downtown Anoka with over 130 juried artisans and crafters, live music, plenty of food and much more. 763-421-7130

July 13-21, Hopkins
Hopkins Raspberry Festival
The Hopkins Raspberry Festival has become a Twin Cities institution as a family friendly event. Highlights include the Hunt for the Golden Raspberry, Raspberry Festival of Bands, street dance, marketplace and craft fair, children’s activities, big wheel races, ice cream social, car show, Grande Day Parade, Raspberry Run, fireworks and so much more! Sites throughout Hopkins. 952-931-0878

Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances include: 
3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, July 2-7
Kidz Bop World Tour 2019 & Fireworks at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, July 3
Carly Rae Jepsen at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, July 5
Billy Idol at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, July 6
Ozzy Osbourne at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, July 6
Ariana Grande at the Xcel Energy Center, July 8
Patton Oswalt Live: 2019 Tour at the Historic State Theatre, July 11
Chelsea Handler at the Historic State Theatre, July 13
Premier Boxing Champions at The Armory in Minneapolis, July 13
Tiffany Jenkins: This Show Is Awkward at Ames Center in Burnsville, July 14
The Raconteurs at The Armory, July 15
Lynyrd Skynyrd at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, July 19
Backstreet Boys at the Xcel Energy Center, July 20
Khalid Free Spirit World Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, July 23
Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the Xcel Energy Center, July 25
Jon Billion at The Armory, July 28
Tony Bennett – The I Left My Heart Tour at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, July 28
Fiddler on the Roof at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, July 30 – Aug. 4
Santana: Supernatural Now at the Xcel Energy Center, Aug. 3
Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Aug. 3
John Mayer at the Xcel Energy Center, Aug. 5
Justin Hayward – All the Way at Ames Center, Aug. 6
Tickets are available through Hennepin Theatre Trust and Ticketmaster

Central Minnesota

July 3-4, Pequot Lakes
Stars & Stripes Days
Celebrate Independence during Stars & Stripes Days, and enjoy fireworks, a Grande Parade, live music and entertainment, games, fair food, beer garden, craft fair, water wars, bungee trampoline, kids’ climb, Money in the Haystack, Golden Bobber hunt, kiddie parade and other family-friendly events! Trailside Park. 218-568-8911

July 4, Hill City
Hill City 4th of July Celebrations
Enjoy small town 4th of July festivities in Hill City. Featured activities include a parade, all-day flea market, pudding eating contest, turtle races, Lefty’s Kids’ Games, 5K Fun Run, saw dust pile, children’s events, comedy acts, and of course, a fireworks display. 218-326-9607

July 4, Brainerd
Brainerd Fireworks & 4th of July Celebration
Just some of the highlights during Brainerd’s 4th of July Celebration include a parade, live music acts such as Salute to Kansas & Foreigner and A Tribute to Journey, and fireworks synchronized to music. Don Adamson Field. 218-829-2838

July 4-7, Spicer
Spicer 4th of July Celebration
Spicer’s popular 4th of July Celebration is filled with activities for all ages including an arts and crafts fair, amusing flea market, volleyball, basketball and softball tournaments, kiddie pedal tractor pull, a competitive 12-mile running race, and a street dance for ages 21 and older. On the 4th, enjoy a Grande Day parade including over 100 participants with lots of entertainment and candy. Venues throughout Spicer. 320-796-8066

July 5-7, Brainerd
33rd Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go
The 33rd Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go includes Muscle Car Series drag racing, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) road racing, a classic car show, fireworks display, on-site camping and live music. Brainerd International Raceway. 218-824-7223

July 6, Crosslake
Celebrate America 49th Annual Fireworks Display & Original Craft and Flea Market
Enjyo unique shopping opportunities at Crosslake’s Original Craft and Flea Market located at the intersection of County Roads 3 and 103. Later that day, head to the shores of Cross Lake to view the fantastic fireworks display from Sand Island beginning at dusk. Other highlights include Grandpa’s Run for the Walleye, the Ideal Farmers Market and outdoor music at Town Square. 218-692-4027; 612-597-1827

July 11-14, Isle
Isle Days
This city celebration is filled with fun events including a boat parade, street dance, Kiddie & Grand parades, kids’ 1 mile fun walk, craft vendors, car show, arts and crafts, flea market, launch rides, food stands, beer gardens and more. Various locations in Isle. 888-708-3669

July 13, Pierz
Pierz Freedom Fest
Four great country bands will perform at this year’s Pierz Freedom Fest, with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as the headliner! Much more than a music festival, Pierz Freedom Fest is committed to giving back to Pierz and the surrounding communities! Genola Ball Park. 320-468-6925

July 18-21, Sauk Centre
Sinclair Lewis Days
Sinclair Lewis Days is four days of fun for everyone with parades, fireworks, a craft fair, Family Day in the Park, ice cream social, 5K and kids’ one mile run, Miss Sauk Centre Pageant, soap box derby races, raffle and more. Sinclair Lewis Park. 320-352-5201

Northwest Minnesota

July 3-5, Warroad
4th of July Festival
Warroad celebrates the 4th like never before with an amazing fireworks display over the Warroad River at Kakaygeesick Bay, water wars, a street dance, kids’ foot, gunny and 3-legged races, a parade, inflatables, live music, pancake breakfast, food vendors, movie night, AC/DC Tribute Band and so much more! Rainbow Park. 218-386-3543

July 4, Detroit Lakes
Fireworks Display
Enjoy a spectacular fireworks display at dusk at the mile-long, city beach along Detroit Lake. Before and after the fireworks, check out the many fine, local restaurants, as well as live music in Detroit Lakes. Detroit Lakes city park and beach. 218-847-9202

July 4, Park Rapids
Hometown 4th of July
This classic 4th of July Celebration will feature dawn to dusk events and entertainment. Enjoy the Firecracker Foot Race, boat parades, picnics, pie baking contest and auction, Grande Parade, pre-fireworks concert and a fireworks display over the Fish Hook River. Main Avenue, Red Bridge Park and Heartland Park. 218-732-4111

July 5-6, Remer
Bigfoot Days
The annual Bigfoot Days celebration has been growing since Remer declared itself the Home of Bigfoot in 2016! Events include a family picnic, BBQ Contest, bingo, 5K run, information from the Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team, a pancake breakfast and more. Downtown Remer. 218-566-1680

July 7, Nevis
Nevis Pig Races
Pig racing has quickly become a crowd pleaser, and Gary Dauer knows how to put on a humerous and engaging show! Sponsor a pig to run in the race — each porker will be adorned in “dashing” capes. Besides the pig races, enjoy the beer garden, children’s activities, face painting, hamburger sliders, french fries and snow cones. Muskie Park, a.k.a. Muskie Downs. 218-652-3115

July 9-14, Hackensack
Sweetheart Days
The ever-popular Sweetheart Days is filled with activities for kids of all ages. Festivities include the Fabulous Fireworks display, Kids’ Fishing Contest, children’s games, Sweetheart Days Parade, 4th Annual Sweetheart Days Dachshund Derby, Sacred Heart flea market, Test Your Trivia, Spaghetti Dinner, horse racing at the Hackensack American Legion, Josh Duffee and His Big Band, Cornhole Tournament, Sweetheart Days Car Show and much more. Downtown Hackensack. 218-675-6135

July 13, Bagley
Bagley Art in the Park
Bagley’s 32nd Annual Art in the Park includes a wide variety of items created by many local artists, as well as food vendors, live stage entertainment and art projects for children. Bagley City Park. 218-533-0120

July 18-20, Walker
Moondance Jam
Moondance Jam is a classic rock and roll music festival held annually on the 300-acre Moondance Fairgrounds. This event features open festival seating, camping, well-kept facilities, two indoor regional stages, excellent security and an organized staff so fans are treated to great music and camping in a clean, safe and friendly atmosphere. Headliners for the 2019 Moondance Jam include Lynyrd Skynyrd, Train, Rick Springfield, The Sweet, Skillet, Goo Goo Dolls, Gov’t Mule and Molly Hatchet! Moondance Fairgrounds. 218-836-1055

Northeast Minnesota

July 3-4, Nashwauk
Nashwauk 4th of July
No one does the 4th of July like a small town! Head to Nashwauk for live music by numerous bands, children’s activities, a flea market, rummage sales, craft fair, Grande Parade, Red Rock Run, races, car show and fireworks. 218-326-9607

July 4, Duluth
Fourth Fest 2019
Duluth’s annual Fourth Fest at Bayfront Festival Park is a free, family-friendly celebration of Independence Day. The evening will feature live music including headliner Junk FM, food, beverage and craft vendors, plus the spectacular fireworks display at 10:10 p.m. Bayfront Festival Park. 218-722-4011

July 4, Crane Lake
4th of July Parade & Fireworks
Celebrate Independence Day in Crane Lake with their famous parade at 7 p.m. beginning at Voyagaire Lodge. At dark, spectacular fireworks will be lit from a barge. Enjoy by boat or on shore at Voyagaire Lodge. 218-993-2901

July 4, Ely
July 4th Parade & Fireworks
The July 4th Parade is a true small town parade with a variety of floats, vehicles, music and more! Young Life will provide food and activities in the park, and there will be a flyover from the 148th Fighter Wing, live music during the afternoon at the Whiteside park band shell, and live music during the evening at the new Semers Park Picnic Pavilion. After sunset, join the town in celebrating July 4th with festive fireworks at Miners Lake. Venues throughout Ely. 218-365-6123

July 5 & 6, Chisholm & Side Lake/French Township
Northern Lights Music Festival: Girls Night Out & Music On The Beach
Don’t miss the Girl’s Night Out concert celebrating the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann at the Chisholm High School on July 5. And on July 6, enjoy Music On The Beach featuring fantastic choral and folk music concerts, as well as spectacular views on the beach at McCarthy Beach State Park. 218-780-2292

July 11-14, Two Harbors
Two Harbors Heritage Days 2019
Two Harbors Heritage Days is an annual 4 day event offering an arts and crafts show, stage entertainment, a street dance, two parades, medallion hunt, children’s activities, bungee jumper & slide, 5K run, car show, pancake breakfasts and more. Downtown Two Harbors. 218-834-6200

July 13, Duluth
Taste of Duluth
The 3rd Annual Taste of Duluth will be held at Bayfront Festival Park and features a wide array of amazing dishes, as well as live music, products and services, crafts, beer and many displays of interest. Taste of Duluth is taking on a new look and sound for 2019 with culture and cuisine at the forefront. Mainstage performers will reflect many of the ethnic origins that are a rich part of Duluth’s history, with plenty of ethnic and American food offerings, including sample sizes. Bayfront Festival Park. 218-727-1177

July 13, Grand Rapids
Grand Jam 2019!
Grand Jam 2019! is a music festival featuring We Ain’t Cowboys, Coyote Wild and country stars Little Texas! Camping passes are available. Itasca County Fairgrounds Midway. 218-327-5780

July 20, Duluth
Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival
The 14th Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival showcases internationally touring performers, along with ethnic foods, beverages and a variety of artisans displaying their wares. This celebration of world music whose artists spread the message of love, hope and equality for all people worldwide — bring your flag and wave it proudly! Bayfront Festival Park. 218-525-8099

Mpls. Park Board Commissioner looks to build taller in parks

Credit to Cathy Wurzer of MPR News: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/06/26/mpls-park-board-commissioner-looks-to-build-taller-in-parks

People walk and bike the trails of Lake Calhoun.People walk and bike the trails around Lake Calhoun, also known by its Dakota name Bde Maka Ska, meaning White Earth Lake, in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Evan Frost | MPR News

Affordable housing in the park? That’s one option Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Chris Meyer thinks should be on the table when rebuilding on the site of the Bde Maka Ska pavilion. The vintage 1930s building that used to house Lola on the Lake burned down last month, and was too damaged to be repaired.

“When we have a location so close to high quality public transit … it’s really a waste to build just a one story building,” Meyer said. “I put out housing as one option that we could consider. It’s certainly not the only one that we can consider.”

Meyer said he thinks a multi-level building on that site could house multiple restaurants, a coffee shop, or the sailing school that’s looking for space on the lake.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is an independent, elected body that runs the city’s vast park system. Typically they deal with things like recreation centers and bike trails, but Meyer says drawing revenue from housing and commercial space isn’t unprecedented for them.

“We have 99 year leases that we give to people who live on Nicollet Island. The superintendent of the park board also lives in a house in a park,” Meyer said.

The insurance money for the burned-down building isn’t enough to rebuild it exactly as it was, according to Meyer. If they did that, they would have to draw on funds that could be used for other things.

“If we were to add additional stories, that could help fund the entire project without diverting from other sources,” Meyer said, who added any addition revenue could be reinvested in other park projects.

The Bde Maka Ska location isn’t the only site Meyer is eyeing for future mixed-used development.

“All the attention went to Lola’s when I actually had brought up a different potentially much bigger project which would be at the Brian Coyle Rec Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood,” Meyer said. “That is another building that we’re looking to reconstruct in the near future and that could potentially be a mixed use building.”

Meyer said he wouldn’t want to build on green space. Rather, he wants to look at building taller structures on sites already developed, like parking lots and rec centers.

Adventure & Relax on a Minnesota Camping Trip

Credit to Erica Wachker of ExploreMinnesota.com: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/reconnect-on-a-camping-trip/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Camping with dogs in Superior National ForestCamping in the Superior National Forest / Alyssa Hei

Relaxation, adventure, escape, and quality time with family and friends are among the many reasons why camping is a beloved Minnesota pastime. Whether you’re ready to take on the Boundary Waters or prefer the comforts of an RV, a Minnesota camping trip will surely be one to remember.

BOUNDARY WATERS & BACKPACKING

View from a boundary waters bluff

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness / Gary Hamer

 

Camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a badge of honor. There are no roads, buildings, motorboats, and definitely no cell phone service. The only mode of transportation is via canoe, with more than 1,500 miles of waterways to explore. When it’s time to set up camp, simply paddle to an open campsite and pitch your tent. Every campsite is private, so you’ll have a little piece of the wilderness all to yourselves.

Adjacent to the Boundary Waters, the Superior National Forest has a wide range of camping options, from primitive “dispersed camping” sites up to drive-in sites complete with bathhouses and electric hookups. Also in this picturesque part of the state, the Superior Hiking Trail covers nearly 300 miles of rugged terrain above the North Shore of Lake Superior, with more than 90 campsites along the way.

Lake Maria State Park camping backpacking

Backpacking at Lake Maria State Park

Another backpacking hot spot is Crosby Manitou State Park on the North Shore near Silver Bay, where challenging trails are flanked with spectacular views of waterfalls and forests. The secluded campsites are for backpackers only (though you may have to share them with moose, deer and other wildlife).

Similar camping experiences can be found in the northwest part of the state, in the Chippewa National Forest and along the North Country National Scenic Trail, which travels 800 miles across the northern half of Minnesota with multiple segments that stretch from the North Dakota border all the way to the Superior Hiking Trail.

Backpacking opportunities even exist near the Minneapolis-St. Paul area at AftonLake Maria and St. Croix state parks. Several state parks also have “walk-in” (less than half a mile) sites, with carts available to haul your gear in some cases.

CAMPGROUNDS & RV PARKS

Airstream Mille Lacs Mali Mish

Airstream at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park / Mali Mish Family

If you’re looking for a more laid back and family-friendly camping experience, Minnesota has about 500 privately operated campgrounds, most of which are on a lake or river, with sites for RVs as well as tents. Many are at resorts that also rent cabins and other indoor lodging.

These campgrounds usually feature an array of amenities, such as pools, playgrounds, game rooms, entertainment, boat rentals, Wi-Fi, and on-site laundry, groceries and restaurants. Many offer family-friendly activities like bonfires and other fun that make them a great choice for groups of all ages.

Many of Minnesota’s most scenic spots have been preserved as state parks, and most of the 75 parks and recreation areas have campgrounds with tent and RV sites. The settings range from forest to prairie; scenic hiking trails and access to a lake or river are among the highlights at these popular parks.

Camper cabin at Afton State Park

Camper cabin at Afton State Park / Kirsten Alana

Several state parks and some private campgrounds also rent camper cabins, an appealing alternative for those who don’t want to sleep in a tent. The majority have electricity and heat and can sleep up to six people. But without their own restrooms or running water, you can still say that you’re roughing it.

City and county campgrounds are another good option; in-town campgrounds are usually near shops, restaurants and attractions. If you don’t have your own camping equipment, various outfitters offer rentals of everything from tents and pop-up campers to top-of-the-line motorhomes complete with kitchens and master suites.

Five Ways to Enjoy Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes

Credit to Explore Minnesota: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/five-ways-to-enjoy-minnesotas-10000-lakes/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

When you visit a place that’s nicknamed “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (make that 11,842, to be precise), it’s pretty much required that you explore one or two of them while you’re here. In fact, many would argue you haven’t had the full Minnesota experience until you’ve gone to the lake. After all, they’re not hard to find!

As you plan your Minnesota getaway, be sure to carve out some time at a lake—whether it’s a side trip for an afternoon or the focus of your whole vacation. Here are five great ways to do so.

1. PLAY AT THE BEACH

waconia7808-Lake-Waconia-beach-scenes-600x400.jpg

Sunbathing on Lake Waconia

It’s the classic way to spend a summer day. Spread out a towel, pull out a good book, make a sandcastle with the kids, and cool off with a dip in the lake. It’s easy to include a beach day (or several!) on a Minnesota getaway. Many cities have great beaches right in town, including Big Lake, Detroit LakesFairmontSpicer and Waconia. For a refreshing dip in our biggest lake, Superior, head to Park Point Beach in Duluth. You can even beach it at lakes Maka Ska and Harriet right in the heart of Minneapolis, and several other Twin Cities-area lakes.

Numerous state parks have terrific sand beaches, including Father Hennepin on Mille Lacs Lake, Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods, McCarthy BeachLake BemidjiMaplewood and Lake Shetek. Most of Minnesota’s resorts and campgrounds are located along lakeshores, so look for one with a swimming beach.

2. PADDLE AWAY

A woman canoeing in the Boundary Waters

Kayaking in the Boundary Waters / Jillian DeChaine

Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are all great ways to explore our lakes. Many state and local parks offer canoe and kayak rentals for easy lake paddling. In Minneapolis, you can rent a canoe at Bde Maka Ska and paddle through a chain of lakes via connecting canals. For more experienced paddlers, the ultimate adventure is a camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; several outfitters provide equipment, provisions and tips.

Paddleboards are the newest wave of fun on the lake. Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are available for rent at several state parks, Minneapolis city lakes and at Bryant Lake, Fish Lake and Baker regional parks in the Minneapolis area. In the Brainerd Lakes area, MN Surf Company offers rentals and lessons.

3. GO FISH

A favorite Minnesota pastime, fishing is favored by some simply as an excuse to get out on a lake and relax. If you don’t have your own boat, many resorts offer rentals. And even better, they can hook you up with a fishing guide who can show you the ins and outs of area lakes. Fishing charters can take you out on the big waters of Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods, and fishing launches go out on larger lakes like Mille Lacs. What’s out there? Minnesota lakes serve up a variety of species: walleye, northerns, bass, muskie, various panfish and more.

4. TAKE A CRUISE

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour on the St. Croix River / Lucy Hawthorne Photography

An easy and fun way to get out on a lake is to climb aboard a tour boat. In the north woods, a narrated boat trip in Itasca State Park explores the lake where the Mississippi River begins as a small stream, and tour boats explore the wilderness lakes of Voyageurs National Park. Elsewhere in the state, Gull Lake Cruises offers cruises with meals on the popular Gull Lake near Brainerd. Vista Fleet tours feature views of Duluth from the city’s harbor and Lake Superior.

Lake Minnetonka, a vast, meandering lake to the west of Minneapolis, has several tour boats: Lady of the Lakepaddlewheeler, Queen of Excelsior, and even the restored 1906 Steamboat Minnehaha. In southeast Minnesota, the Pelican Breeze plies the waters of Albert Lea Lake, and Pearl of the Lake heads onto Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River in a scenic valley of wooded bluffs.

5. SPEND THE NIGHT

Family on dock at resort in Grand Rapids

Resort stays make lake life a breeze

It can be hard to tear yourself away from the lake at the end of the day … so don’t! Find your own place at the lake for a few days, or even weeks. Reserve your stay at a lakeside resort, lodge or campground to really experience lakeside living. Watch the sun set amid vivid pinks and purples. Listen for the distinctive call of loons across the water.

After nightfall, roast marshmallows at a campfire, be amazed by zillions of stars twinkling above, see the moon rise above the lake and, if you’re lucky, catch the northern lightsdancing in the sky. It’s the perfect end to a relaxing day at the lake, with the promise of another to come.

Pollinator-friendly solar energy becomes the norm in Minnesota

Credit to Elizabeth Dunbar at MPR News for the article, and to Evan Frost for the photograph of the solar panels. Original article link:  https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/06/20/pollinatorfriendly-solar-energy-becomes-the-norm-in-minnesota

The environmental benefits of Connexus Energy’s solar-plus-storage project are obvious enough, but this time of year, you’ll notice something more: prairie grasses and flowers planted under and around the sea of solar panels.

Pollinator-friendly plantings at large solar energy sites have become common in Minnesota in recent years. Not only do they provide habitat for the bee and butterfly populations people have been concerned about, but they also promote soil health and probably even boost the solar panels’ electricity output on warm days.

The National Renewable Energy Lab is using the Ramsey Renewable Station and a couple dozen other sites around the country to test that.

“Their hypothesis is that thicker vegetation under and around solar panels creates a cooler microclimate, which actually generates more electricity from the panels,” said Rob Davis, who directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy at the Minnesota advocacy group Fresh Energy.

The group has promoted pollinator plantings at solar sites for several years. It’s now become mainstream, with the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, saying it will require solar developers to include plans for plantings at proposed sites. The practice is common in the U.K., and Connexus was the first to try it in Minnesota with a small solar array at its headquarters in 2014, Davis said.

The project would have been covered with gravel, but Connexus staff intervened. In the years since the pollinator habitat was planted there, pictures of the site has been featured in publications such as National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living, Davis said.

Recently, researchers have found bee and butterfly populations are declining — a trend linked to disease, parasites, decreased biodiversity, agricultural practices such as row-cropping and pesticide use, and climate change.

In some parts of the world, the problem is so serious that work crews pollinate crops by hand.

“There’s so many pollinator-dependent crops that we all love and enjoy — blueberries and apples — but every single apple flower needs to be visited two to three times by a bee,” Davis said.

During a Connexus Energy open house on Wednesday, adults and kids planted milkweed along the fence line at the new solar-plus-storage facility in Ramsey.

“It’s neat to hear that the land is good for more than just the solar panels,” said Michelle Austin-Dehn, of Ramsey, who brought her two sons to the event in the family’s electric car. Last year, she said, the kids grew milkweed and collected caterpillars. They also compost and try to use environmentally friendly products.

“It’s important,” she said. “It’s one big planet and we’re all connected.”

Patricia Rosales was there with some of her English language students from Otsego Elementary, who learned about the importance of pollinators in school.

“It’s their future, and they know if something happens to bees, what would happen, if we didn’t have fruits and vegetables and how the grocery store would look without all the things that are pollinated by bees,” Rosales said.

Under a tent next to the Ramsey Renewable Station, Connexus CEO Greg Ridderbusch described the project to a few dozen people — many of them members of the electric cooperative.

“We all know we need to get to higher and higher levels of carbon-free electricity on the grid, he said, “so our strategy is, if we can find projects that will both save us money and green the electricity that we’re adding to the grid, those are good projects.”

Ridderbusch added on sunny days, power from the panels costs less than power from the electricity grid. In addition, the power saved in the batteries helps the co-op rely less on the grid at times when wholesale electricity is most expensive — at peak times, like when everybody gets home from work and school and turns on the air conditioning.

“Over the next 25 years, the plantings that will be here will improve the soil, and it will be a habitat for pollinators — we actually have a farm next door,” Ridderbusch said.

That farm grows pumpkins and melons. Those plants, plus the pollinator habitat planted alongside the panels make it a good spot to make honey. Connexus is working with Minneapolis-based Bare Honey, which has placed bee hives on the site.