If you can't beat the weather, join it. That's what nature experts at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge are saying as they're offering up several free winter activities, and they have it all down to a science.
Strap on your snowshoes (or the ones available for loan at Tamarac) and head out into the woods for a scientific adventure.
"We'll have a master naturalist who knows a lot about the area and wildlife heading that up," said Janice Bengtson of Tamarac. "So it's a little adventure where we'll be looking for signs of wildlife whether it be tracks, cat or food cash."
Once animal life is detected, participants will then begin learning about something called Project Noah.
"We're asking people to bring their cameras so that if they see a red squirrel or certain type of tree or animal, they can document their sighting, and then learn how to use the Noah website so that they can be a citizen scientist for Tamarac and just learning about all of the plants and animals," said Bengtson, who says the activity is a chance for families to enjoy being a part of what the refuge has to offer.
Snowshoe Science takes place Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. If there is not enough snow for the snowshoes, participants are encouraged just to wear boots and dress for the elements. Meeting place is the Pine Lake Parking area on County Road 29. No registration is required, just show up.
Family Ski Trek
This event takes place Sunday, Feb. 10; visitors are asked to bring their own skis as they begin a two-mile trek. But don't come looking for speed on this trek, as slow and sweet is the name of the game.
"We want to take our time and look around and make observations as we go to see what we might find along the way," said Bengtson. "It's just a really pretty ski ... we'll go through some open meadows and along Tamarac Lake..."
Meeting place for this ski adventure is 2 p.m. at the Pine Lake Parking area. No registration is required.
Stories in the Snow
On Sunday, March 2 nature lovers can get the chance to crack open the stories that lie within the winter woods.
"This is where we focus on small mammals, the ones you might see in the wintertime like weasels, rabbits, river otters..." said Bengtson, who says a Tamarac wildlife biologist will lead the way.
"We'll look at things like tracks and try to figure out what stories they might tell ... are there two sets of tracks? Was there a predator and did something happen?"
Participants will also learn about the natural history of the smaller mammals and how they survive harsh Minnesota winters. This activity also starts at 2 p.m.
The North Country Trail Association will be heading up this expedition that starts at 1 p.m. on Feb. 2.
"The North Country Trail is a national scenic trail, and has just been completed on the refuge," said Bengtson, adding that they'll start at the old Indian hiking trail on county Road 29.
"It's so nice and quiet and beautiful -- it's just a nice place to go to get some solitude," she said. "You can just come and enjoy the winter here in Minnesota ... and there are no bugs!"
All events at Tamarac are free, as is the visit into the refuge. People are encouraged to also check out Tamarac on their own for its free ice fishing, cross country skiing and wildlife watching. For more information call 847-2641 or check out the website.