SNA Nature Notes - Winter 2012

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas header

Winter 2012

Two long-time SNA Employees Retire

Photo of Ellen Fuge

Ellen Fuge

By Bob Djupstrom, Former SNA Program Supervisor

After 25 distinguished years with the DNR, Ellen Fuge has retired. Ellen spent most of those years in the SNA Program, though Ellen also worked for the Purple Loosestrife Program, County Biological Survey, and Friends of the Mississippi River.

Ellen was the guru of management for the array of SNA sites with their various ecological communities and rare species. These sites flourished because Ellen did the research and consulted experts to ensure the best possible management scenarios were developed and implemented to restore, enhance and preserve the attributes of each SNA.

Many knew Ellen as the person providing volunteers with information on what needed to be done, how to do it and most importantly why it needed to be done. The tremendous amount of work accomplished by volunteers is a testament to Ellen's ability to work with people from all walks of life, to communicate what needed to get done and the organization skills to do it.

Ellen was also an excellent supervisor who cared about the people working with and for her. She had one of the most difficult supervisor jobs as each year she hired crews for spring/fall burns and seasonal fieldwork. She brought on 10 to 15 people annually. This was a herculean task as she was generally hiring totally new employees. Yet she made it happen flawlessly, resulting in the implementation of management practices statewide, with minimal issues.

Thanks to Ellen's dedicated stewardship, the plant communities and rare species found on SNA's are in good shape. I urge you to thank her for a job well done and wish her well, as I have, as she embarks on a new phase of her life.

Photo of Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson

By AmberBeth VanNingen, Northeast Region Forest and Natural Area Ecologist

After 28 years with the DNR, and 22 with the SNA program, Northeast Region SNA Specialist Steve Wilson has retired. Steve was among the first field staff in the SNA program. His work area originally covered the entire northern forested portion of Minnesota before the program was regionalized after which he covered the Northeast Region. Even so, Steve continued to share his love and knowledge of northern Minnesota's forests and peatlands through special working groups and teams at local and statewide levels.

Steve will certainly leave his mark on the SNA program in several ways. For example, in the way he opened up the SNA acquisition process to include more local input. Many aspects of how Steve did neighboring landowner contacts and worked with county boards are now standard practice across the program. Steve was also known for his work with those donating or selling their land, keeping them informed through the long process. One of Steve’s final acts on the job was to help host the dedication for the new Boltuck-Rice Forever Wild SNA (see below), a project that he stuck with for many years.

Steve also infused some of his other passions, such as bird ecology and energy efficiency, into his work. In his retirement, Steve will certainly be pursuing at least of one those passions. On the In/Out board at the Tower office, he marked himself as "Out" and wrote "Gone Birding" by his name.

Good luck Steve, and thank you!



SNA Events Provide for Fun Winter Adventure

Photo of volunteer burning brush

Warm your hands and heart this winter helping stack and burn brush piles or clear brush at Lost Valley Prairie SNA. Consider one of the following fun events. A full list is available on the SNA Events Calendar.



Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Burn Brush, Invasive Removal


Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Burn Brush, Invasive Removal


Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Clear Brush




Site Highlight: Boltuck-Rice Forever Wild SNA

Photo of dedication ceremony at Boltuck-Rice Forever Wild SNA

Mary Boltuck and Jeanne Rice were honored August 4th, 2012 in a dedication ceremony at the new Boltuck-Rice Forever Wild SNA, on Siseebakwet Lake southwest of Grand Rapids. The sisters and their families, whose legacy leaves almost a mile of undeveloped shoreline, wanted to keep this forested lakeshore "forever wild." The site protects old-growth hardwood and cedar forests and unique ice push ridges near the lake. These ancient ridges provide insight into lake level changes over time and are susceptible to development, making them rare in Minnesota. We thank the Boltuck and Rice families for their gift to all Minnesotans, and also to Itasca County and the Siseebakwet Lake Association for contributing to the preservation this special place.



Notes from Site Stewards

Photo of sandhill crane track

The number of site stewards monitoring SNAs across Minnesota has grown to nearly 100 this year. Their observations of provide invaluable information to the SNA Program. Here are some interesting notes from reports this late summer and fall:

  • In Martin Kehoe's first site report on Gustafson's Camp SNA this December he notes the deer exclosure needs some additional fencing. He said, "Deer cannot get in but I observed a snowshoe hare inside last spring."
  • Monica Wallace, steward at Grey Cloud Dunes SNA noted a couple of deer near the railroad tracks that bisect the site on November 22nd. She picked up enough trash that day to fill a 30-gallon bag, noting this site doesn't usually have so much trash. Monica also stewards Prairie Creek Woods SNA.
  • Boundary inspection of Des Moines River Prairie SNA by John Velo on November 8th discovered a three-acre area marked by boundary signs that was missing from the site's web map. After verifying this was indeed a mistake on the map, the web map has been updated.
  • Sandhill cranes were seen and heard by McGregor Marsh SNA site stewards Lynette and David Arneson on their August 30th site visit. Tracks left on the ATV trail that passes through the site are shown above.

Thanks stewards for submitting those reports, and keep them coming!



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).