Prairie Fun Day at Wetlands District
Want to learn how to fight prairie fires? Build bird houses? Take wildlife photos?
Then come on out to the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District (DLWMD) office on Saturday, Sept. 14, for Prairie Fun Day.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
DLWMD staff and Friends of the Wetland volunteers will be offering free, hands-on activities inside the new DLWMD offices (at 26624 N. Tower Road), on the grounds and along the Prairie Marsh Trail.
“Though the activities are geared toward kids, we find parents and grandparents have just as much fun participating,” said Rebcca Esser, a wildlife biologist with the DLWMD.
The Prairie Fun Day was established to help participants “learn more about prairie and wetland habitats through hands-on activities,” Esser said. “We’re trying to connect people with what we do on the ground as far as habitat conservation.”
Though this will be the fifth year for Prairie Fun Day, it hasn’t been consecutive: “We skipped it last year because of the construction on the new building and grounds,” Esser said.
For those who weren’t able to attend the grand opening for the new DLWMD offices in May, tours of the facility and grounds will also be available, by request only, though there will be fact sheets provided about the various energy efficiency measures that were included in the new building’s construction.
“People are also encouraged to take a hike along the Prairie Marsh Trail as well as participate in the activities,” Esser said, noting that the DLWMD grounds have been restored with “all natural landscaping,” though it will take a couple of years for that landscape to be fully established and self-sustaining.
Some of the more popular activities set to take place on Saturday include:
- The Aquatic Bug Dip Tank, in which DLWMD staff have stocked a water tank with all types of aquatic bugs that kids can fish out with a cup or net to take a closer look. “Kids can see, up close and personal, exactly what lives in the wetlands,” Esser said.
- A Fire Equipment Demonstration, in which kids can check out some of the specialized firefighting equipment that the department uses, and “try their hand at spraying with the hose.”
- Bird House Building, in which kids can test their carpentry skills and build their own birdhouses. “We’re bringing back this activity, which we haven’t done in a few years,” said Esser. “All materials will be provided, but they are in limited supply, so get there early!” One of the reasons why this activity is so popular is that when the participants are finished, they will have their very own bird houses to bring home with them, she added.
- Nature Photography, in which participants can “check out” a digital camera, go out on the WMD grounds or along the trail and take a photo or two, then come back and get it printed to take home with them. “A couple of local educators will come out and do a nature photography demonstration and teach the kids how to use the cameras,” Esser explained. “Then they are encouraged to wander out onto the prairie and find some natural object to photograph, like a butterfly or a wildflower, and bring it back to be printed. “We will have portable printers out there so they can print their pictures and take them home, in a small frame.”
- Duck identification, in which participants can view the “Ducks on a Stick” wildlife display depicting various types of webbed-foot waterfowl, then use spotting scopes provided at the site to identify ducks out on the nearby marsh. “We have a new ‘Ducks on a Stick’ display that will be used, provided through a private donation to Ducks Unlimited” that was made specifically for that purpose, Esser said.
About 10 activities will be offered in all, along with displays from Wylie’s Taxidermy and various wildlife-oriented organizations.
“The Friends of the DLWMD are helping to sponsor this, and will be serving a lunch for the participants,” Esser said, noting that while the lunch and all activities are being offered free of charge, free will donations will be gratefully accepted.
For more information, please contact the DLWMD offices at 218-847-4431.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.