SNA Nature Notes - Spring 2018

minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Area


Showy lady's-slipper

Spring 2018

Say Hello to Carly and Madison


This year the Scientific and Natural Areas Program welcomes two Conservation Corps of Minnesota (CCM) members, Carly Gelderman and Madison Douthitt. They will be working to help the Program implement outreach activities, Carly as the Web and Social Media Specialist and Madison as the Volunteer and Site Steward Specialist.


Carly is a recent graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating with a degree in Biology, Carly spent a year in Iowa volunteering for an AmeriCorps Volunteer In-Service to America (VISTA) position, focusing on food security. A Minnesota native, Carly returned home to work in marketing and social media for the Great Plains Institute, a local energy and environment non-profit. Carly’s interest in biology, conservation, and getting others to appreciate and experience the outdoors makes working as the Web and Social Media Specialist a perfect fit. Carly looks forward to visiting many Scientific and Natural Areas and learning more about Minnesota’s native plants and animals. 


Carly Gelderman
Carly Gelderman on a backpacking trip at Jay Cooke State Park in the summer of 2017.

Madison, a graduate of North Carolina State University, majored in Zoology and minored in Spanish. While at NC State, she had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. There she made connections that would bring her back to South Africa after graduation. She interned at UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal and volunteered with the Urban Caracal Project in Cape Town. After returning stateside, she served as an AmeriCorps member through the Conservation Trust for North Carolina at the North Carolina Coastal Federation. As a Coastal Community Outreach Specialist, Madison communicated the environmental issues facing the North Carolina coast to locals and visitors of the Outer Banks. Madison is now serving in the newly created SNA Volunteer and Site Steward Specialist position. She is working with SNA staff to improve communication with volunteers and stewards. She is excited to get more volunteers to help out on SNAs.

Madison Douthitt
Madison Douthitt banding juvenile pelicans.

Improvements made to Scientific and Natural Area website maps


Results of a 2017 Scientific and Natural Area website survey yielded a number of ideas for improvements. One of the most frequently tallied suggestions was improving map and direction related information.

To that end, a legend was recently added to the interactive map on each SNA's web page. It highlights the map’s layers and parking areas. Choose the parking symbol on the legend to get full directions, then “map it” to zoom to the parking area on the interactive map. From here, choose driving directions (via Google or Bing) from your location to the site. Try it out and let us know what you think!


Get to your favorite SNA by:

Screenshot of new website map showing legend with parking.
Screenshot of updated web site map showing new legend with parking information selected.

Smart phone showing DNR webpage

Website also goes mobile


On Friday, March 16, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website was upgraded to make it mobile friendly. This had been another request from the 2107 SNA website survey. Web pages now automatically scale down to fit small screen devices - smartphones and tablets. You will not be continually pinching and zooming to view information. Look at the Scientific and Natural Area webpages on your phone or tablet to see these improvements for yourself. 

Site Highlight: Wolsfeld Woods SNA

By Carly Gelderman, SNA Web and Social Media Specialist

Wolsfeld Woods Scientific and Natural Area is a 220-acre forest of maple, basswood, red oak, ironwood, and elm trees, some of which are over 200 years old. This increasingly rare landscape is part of the “Big Woods” ecological subsection in Minnesota.  Located just 40 minutes west of the Twin Cities in Long Lake this natural area is one of the few where you can still enjoy the feeling of being in the “Big Woods”. Liz Weir, member of Friends of the Wolsfeld Woods, writes about the woods, “I believe what people most love about the site is its relatively unspoiled beauty and, for me, its ancient tug to the conscience of how this part of Minnesota once looked, before our pioneer ancestors arrived to clear the forest cover for farming.” With this unique glimpse back in time you may also experience some of the  55 wildlife species that are endangered, threatened, or of special concern in the “Big Woods”, which is another reason this 220-acres are now preserved.

Bursting with life, this SNA offers opportunities to see something amazing. With help from Friends of Wolsfeld Woods there are several outdoor events put on each year here. This spring you can join in on a wildflower walk to catch the first spring ephemerals bloom as soils warm and the tree canopy is clear. Over the spring and summer over 70 wildflowers and ferns grow within this SNA. 

If you are a bird watcher, enjoy a warbler walk later in May to witness these colorful songsters make their way through the forest migrating to summer breeding grounds. Liz Weir has documented over different 20 warblers on a single day, so it is unlikely you will disappointed. You may also see waterthrush, flycatchers and vireos. Bring the Wolsfeld Woods SNA bird checklist for a more comprehensive bird list. 

Wolsfeld Woods was named for the German family that settled on this land in the 1850s. The Wolsfeld sons used their knowledge of forestry learned in Germany to manage these Big Woods. That meant selective cutting and selling lumber to the local barrel and cask business or for furniture or wooden tools. Later, the Wolsfeld family began a large-scale syrup-making business. The careful stewardship of these woods for over a century in all likelihood accounts for their survival today. Learn more about the history of Wolsfeld Woods and view historical pictures.



Leaves emerge on the trees at Wolsfeld Woods SNA.
Leaves emerge on the trees at Wolsfeld Woods SNA in spring-time. Photo by ColdSnap Photography

SNA Events

It’s springtime and that means time to get outside and enjoy the warm air, the blooming wildflowers, and the sounds of life as Minnesota transforms into a colorful, energetic landscape once again. Join us for these outdoor opportunities listed below. A full list is available on the  SNA Events Calendar


Spring wildflowers blooming at Wolsfeld Woods SNA
Dutchman’s breeches blooming at Wolsfeld Woods SNA. Photo by Coldsnap Photography.

Notes from Site Stewards

Site stewards monitor SNAs across Minnesota. Their observations provide valuable information to the SNA Program. Here are some interesting notes from recent reports:

  • On January 14, site steward Bill Tefft led a snowshoe hike into Purvis Lake-Ober Foundation SNA. Folks hiked through the northern portions of the site appreciating the good weather with a light snow. 
  • Deer, rabbit, raccoon, and mouse tracks were noted and photographed (see above) at Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA on February 25. Site steward Anne Ihrke also noted that two visitors had enjoyed the site on snowshoes. 

Thanks for all the work you do for SNAs stewards!

Nature Notes is the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas quarterly newsletter (archive online). It seeks to increase interest, understanding and support of natural areas while promoting involvement in the protection of these special places. Contact us directly at


Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).