Freebies and Gratitude

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November, 2019

Freebies and Gratitude

In November we recognize and thank military veterans and active service members, and Thanksgiving reminds us to count our blessings. We invite you to celebrate with a good dose of fresh air and forest bathing on Free Park Friday. The day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 29)  entrance to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is free! Join a free naturalist program, take a hike, relax in the woods with some good reads, or take in a free wild turkey sighting. 

Keep your stories and photos coming!

Happy Veteran's Day and Happy Thanksgiving!

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CREDIT: Donald Jones, National Wild Turkey Federation

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Fort Snelling State Park

fort snelling historic overlook

View of Fort Snelling State Park from historic park overlook along the Sibley Memorial Highway. From here you can get a stunning view of Gun Club Lake, Quarry Island and the Minnesota River Valley.

Reflecting on Minnesota's Complicated History

In September, Fort Snelling State Park reopened after being closed all summer due to high water levels on the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The park is a gem located in the heart of the Twin Cities and offers a glimpse into the early history of Minnesota.  The land within the park was once used for military drills and gardens maintained by soldiers at nearby Fort Snelling.  A Dakota internment camp was located on the site after the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. It is a powerful and traditional place for the Dakota who have called the area home for thousands of years.  Park naturalists share the stories and complicated past of the site through programs and exhibits.

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The faces and stories of our visitors and staff.

Mark “Barney” Hollis

Barney is a Parks and Trails Associate (seasonal) at Moose Lake State Park, where he performs buildings and grounds duties.  When time permits, he does various programming for visitors of all ages. Barney is a former Cryptologic Technician in the United States Navy. 

Hometown: Moose Lake, Minnesota
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Camping with Scouts and family, hunting and teaching about outdoor activities. 
Claim to Fame: Barney has a closet dedicated to character onesie PJs!

Fuel for the Trail: Trash can Turkey to bring camping.

Barney Bootcamp

Barney in his Bootcamp days

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Thank You Military Service Members!

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Free State Park Vehicle Permit

Getting outdoors is good for your physical and mental health! The Department of Natural Resources, a Yellow Ribbon Company, recognizes this can be especially true for military personnel and veterans. A number of military benefits, including a free state park vehicle permit for dependents of deployed military personnel, offer a well-deserved perk for those who have served our country.

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Hunting Season

It’s hunting season, so wear blaze orange for safety when visiting Minnesota state forests, which are open to hunting during the appropriate season and with the correct license.

In Minnesota state parks, special hunts are taking place this fall to prevent overpopulation of deer. Some parks will be closed to the general public during these hunts and others will have limited access. The DNR advises wearing blaze orange when visiting parks where hunts are taking place.


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Stella, a 1.5-year-old rescue St. Bernard. CREDIT: Heidi Beal 

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Gift Guide (Part 1)

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Gift an Outdoors Experience

  1. Minnesota State Parks and Trails gift cards: Good for camping and lodging,  vehicle permits, I Can! programs, park store merchandise and more!
  2. State park vehicle permit: Unlimited visits to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.
  3. Take someone outside: Grab a coat and that special person in your life and head to a park or trail for some quiet time, a conversation, or to share a favorite nature spot or activity.

You don't have to wait till December—show your gratitude in November with special gifts for people who make your world better.  Check the December issue of Trailblazer for more unique gift ideas.

From the MCV Archives

How Did a Bomb end up in a Minnesota Bog?

Hint: it involves moose, the Cold War, and Red Lake peatland. Full story.


Minnesota Conservation Volunteer is a print magazine dedicated to Minnesota’s wild places and creatures. For more stories, visit or subscribe.

MCV Magazine Cover
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Events this Month

Visit our web page for a complete list of events throughout the state.

Nov. 1, Whitewater State Park: History Mystery Geocache Challenge

Nov. 2, Blue Mounds State Park: National Bison Day

Nov. 21, Itasca State Park: The Story Tree (dibaajimowaatig)

Nov. 23, Big Bog State Recreation Area: Wreath-Making 101


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Find your favorite activity and mark your calendar for some time outdoors this month!