Naturalist programs are blossoming on the North ShoreSummer has been off to a slow start, but the naturalist programs in our area are already underway.
By: Claire Hoffert, Lake County News Chronicle
Summer has been off to a slow start, but the naturalist programs in our area are already underway. They’re an opportunity to get outdoors, enjoy northland flora and fauna and learn something about the natural world under the guidance of a knowledgeable specialist. Now that the weather is warming people are heading for state parks where the programs are offered.
“Initially we were not as busy during the beginning of the summer. However, now with wonderful weather and the Fourth of July, people seem to be flocking to the beautiful hot spots of Minnesota.” said Ben Bishop, seasonal naturalist at Gooseberry Falls State Park, noting that there have been as many as 10,000 visitors on recent weekend days.
Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock, Tettegouche and Temperance River state parks all have many great programs for visitors to experience nature. Gooseberry’s are offered year-round, but summer programs this year will include a night walk, a monarch butterfly display, a universe presentation and sky viewing, and nature carts.
“Nature carts are daily ongoing programs held generally outside the Visitor Center in the morning and afternoon, with a naturalist featuring one of many park topics,” Bishop said.
One of the season’s main events is Lake Superior Day, which takes place on July 20.
“During this day, parks and organizations around the lake celebrate the great lake in a variety of ways,” Bishop said. At Gooseberry Falls, for example, programs include Lake Superior bingo, kite making, paper making, and microscopic monsters, an opportunity to examine micro invertebrates near Lake Superior.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park has teamed up with Gooseberry Falls State Park, with most of the programs to be held at Gooseberry. There will, however, be a Shipwrecks of Lake Superior program at Split Rock on July 6 and July 20, where visitors will hear stories of vessels sunk in the big lake.
Tettegouche State Park will be limited to a few already- filled programs this summer, as the staff is busy with another project.
“We’re gearing up and preparing for the opening of a visitor’s center,”Amy Funk, the interpretive naturalist at Tettegouche State Park said. It will feature a new exhibit area, small gift shop, and office space. At around 10,000 square feet, it will overlook Lake Superior. According to Phil Leversedge, the park manager at Tettegouche, the visitor’s center will be open after Labor Day.
Although Tettegouche State Park’s programs have been filled, Temperance River State Park has many openings. Their variety of programs feature river gorge walks, moose presentations, photo scavenger hunts, and geocaching treasure hunts, to name a few.
“The programs are mostly held on the weekend and focus on natural environment and recreation. There’s a lot to do for folks who are visiting and folks who live in the area,” Funk said, adding that another interesting program at the Temperance River State Park is Archery in the Park.
“Both kids and adults of all abilities can stop in anytime during the program and try the sport of archery with provided equipment and certified instructors to help,” Funk said. “My favorite part of the program is seeing our participants succeed and build confidence in learning a new outdoor skill.”
Starting July 3 with one of its most popular programs, Go with the Lava Flow: River Gorge Walk, programs at Temperance will continue throughout July and August. Each program is free of charge and within walking distance from the nearby rest area.
More information for each of these state parks can be found at their own websites, as well as the DNR website: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html.