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The classrrom building at Hamden Slough. Brian Basham/Tribune

Little classroom on the ... slough?

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The Friends of the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District are hoping to soon be able to put the final touches to their Hamden Slough classroom.

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The group is throwing its fourth annual “Back to the Wetlands” fundraiser on Friday, April 12, at the Speak Easy.

The money raised from the event will be used to finish up the newly constructed classroom that sits out at the Hamden Slough.

“We’re trying to get the furnace installed and electrical outlets and lights and ceiling fans,” said Stacy Salvevold, deputy project leader for the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District, a branch of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Right now the classroom, which was mostly built by volunteers, is only able to host a couple of events and groups because of a lack of some basic utilities.

“The Friends” hope this fundraiser will generate enough to change that.

“We have 50 to 75 silent auction items,” said Nancy Hanke, board member of the friends of the wetlands, “including a Shooting Star Casino package, an hors d’oeuvres party for 50, adult XXL Adrian Peterson official football jersey and Mark Greenig carved decoys.”

Hanke says the casual event will start at 6 p.m. with tickets costing $30.

That will get guests into the event, dinner and an evening of mingling and insight into the importance of the wetlands.

“They’re extremely important for holding water on a landscape to prevent flooding and keeping waters and river clean,” said Salvevold, every one of those basins serves a public health service.”

Hamden Slough and the whole area is unique, in that it is called the “prairie pothole region” as it is home to a large majority of North America’s waterfowl, including ducks and geese.

“The wetland resources out there on that landscape are critical for migrating birds and nesting birds,” said Salvevold, who says she hopes the classroom located out there can start offering more of an educational opportunity to area school children and groups interested in seeing first hand this magnificent landscape.

“And the Friends of the Wetlands have certainly played such a huge part in delivering this to us,” she added.

Tickets for the event are $30 and can be purchased at the door, although coordinators prefer they be bought in advance by calling Darlene at 218-847-2338 or the Wetlands office at 218-847-4431.

For more information on the Hamden Slough Classroom Project, log on to www.friendsofdlwildlife.corg.

Other projects

In the meantime, refuge officials are also applying for a grant to extend the hiking trail, which is set along the marsh along North Tower Road.

The plan is for the ADA-compliant trail to be extended by about a half a mile, making the total distance two miles.

The trail would then also connect to the city’s bike trails.

“And while it’s not a biking trail, it’s a hiking trail, we would provide some bike racks there for people who want to switch gears,” said  Salvevold.

Refuge officials should know within the next few months whether they receive that grant.

During that time, they are swinging open the doors to the new office facility that was opened up late last fall.

The open house is on Thursday, May 9 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“We want people to come out and see our new place and what we’ve done with the energy efficiency here…” said Salvevold, “we’re right off of North Tower Road across from the city shop.”

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