Traveler - Nature is Calling!

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parks and rec


A monthly e-newsletter to encourage “I Can!” program participants and other families to continue learning about the outdoors.

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April 2019

Park Highlight:  Carley State Park


bluebell patch


Beauty and quiet, that is the essence of Carley State Park. In the spring, delicate bluebells (Mertensia virginica), and other wildflowers carpet the valley with a profusion of color. Hike along the trail that follows the Whitewater River and take in the grand old white pines. Listen for the sweet song of orioles, song sparrows, house wrens, and indigo buntings. Enjoy the picnic area, play on the swings or practice softball. The north branch of the Whitewater River is a designated trout stream and provides habitat for brown trout. Rustic campsites are located near the picnic area.  

virginia bluebell

The List: Wildflower Destinations


Early each spring before the hardwood trees have leaves, the ephemeral (short-lived) wildflowers of the forest display a spectacular show!  

In the early days of spring you can catch the first glimpses of these fleeting beauties at state parks in the southeast corner of the state, including:

  • Whitewater State Park where you can find trout lilies, spring beauties, marsh marigolds and countless other species blooming along the walk-in campsite trail.
  • Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is the only park to boast the presence of the rare, native dwarf trout lily.
  • Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is home to many species of wildflowers including the unique skunk cabbage.  Blooming as early as February, skunk cabbage generates its own heat, melting the snow around it, and giving off a foul stench to attract flies for pollination. 
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Explore the countless native wildflower species in Minnesota.

Game Time: Outdoors in Every Language


Encourage your family to love the outdoors by exploring a variety of activities and finding ones that you enjoy together!  

Below is an outdoor action word to share with young children to build literacy skills and to experience the joy of connecting with nature.

This month's outdoor action word is "smell."  Look for flowers growing in your yard, neighborhood or nearby park.  Try to use your nose to find flowers that smell the same and others that smell different?  What other nature smells can you detect?

smell in many languages


An excerpt from “Let’s Play Outside! 50 Ways to Connect Kids with Nature,” a project of the 2014 Collaborative Leadership Fellows Program, Rochester, MN.


flooded trail

Traveler Tip:  Know Before You Go


With our wet and muddy spring conditions, temporary trail closures are common in Minnesota state parks, trails and other public lands.  Be sure to check the current conditions before heading out to explore. 

Since conditions can change quickly, you're encouraged to check the individual state park, state trail, or state forest web pages. Or you can call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 for the latest information.

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Find your local trail conditions.

rabbit in grass

Discover:  If You Care, Leave Them There


Not all sick, injured, or orphaned animals require human intervention or rehabilitation.  It is important to minimize human impacts on animal populations. This often includes limiting human intervention during natural causes of animal injury or death (depredation, disease, storms, etc.).  Dead or dying animals provide an important food source for many species of wildlife. While it is sometimes difficult to witness life and death in nature, a good phrase to keep in mind is, "If you care, leave it there."


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Find out more about what to do if you discover sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.

conservation corp field crew

Meet the Field Staff


Get to know some of the field staff who take care of your Minnesota State Parks and Trails!

Each year, dozens of young men and women with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa assist with resource management projects, including prescribed fire and invasive species removal, in our Minnesota state parks.  The Conservation Corps helps young people from diverse backgrounds become more connected to the environment, engaged in conservation, involved in the community and prepared for future employment. 

Field crews of young adults ages 18 - 25 are based throughout Minnesota and complete natural resource projects and emergency response work during an 8-10 month or summer term.  They serve on a crew of their peers, all ages 18-25.  Positions are still available for the 2019 season. Find out more.

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Interested in working for DNR? Check out DNR internship postings!

bird banding and observers

March Phenology Programs 


Phenology is the study of seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.  Spring is a great time to observe phenology patterns in your own backyard.  

To learn more about Minnesota nature that is awakening this spring, check out some of these upcoming programs:

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Find more activities at Minnesota state parks and trails.

Find past issues of the Traveler.