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Tamarac Wildlife Refuge

A beautiful fall snapshot, photo by: Dale Rehder1 / 3
An up close look at some discovered mushrooms in part of the refuge. Submitted Photo2 / 3
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As summer quietly slips away, autumn starts its slow but steady progression. Eventually deciduous trees show their brilliant hues of red, yellow and orange including the Tamarack, which will be illuminated in golden needles throughout the refuge.

The skies come alive with swans, geese, and migratory birds starting their journey south. Spend some time in nature to rejuvenate your spirit before the frigid temperatures arrive and enjoy the beautiful transition of seasons. See you on the refuge where the blacktop ends and the backwoods begin.

Sanctuary now open

After a busy summer of waterfowl and other wildlife raising their young, the sanctuary area is now open for visitors use.

Venture onto the many trails of Tamarac to experience pure Minnesota wilderness. Beginning Sept. 1, and continuing through February, the northern half of the refuge will be open for hiking and foraging for wild edibles.

During the fall, the refuge permits hunting for small game, waterfowl and white-tailed deer. However, there are still a few areas closed. Be sure to pick up a brochure at the information kiosks located at the entrances of the refuge.

To increase your chances of seeing wildlife, take an excursion on the Blackbird Wildlife Drive. This five-mile drive follows the edges of lakes, marshes and meadows. If you feel inclined to exercise, hike the two-mile long Old Indian Hiking Trail and experience the autumn beauty of the maple basswood forest.

Changing our power source naturally

The Visitor Center is closed for one year while we install a new power system that will draw energy from the earth and the sun. Tamarac is tapping into nature for clean efficient, cost effective energy.

Geothermal heating and cooling will cut our energy use in half and is the most environmentally friendly way to heat and cool a building. Unlike other comfort systems, geothermal does not emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gasses which contribute to air quality pollution. Solar panels will be installed to provide a portion of the electricity dramatically cutting energy costs.

Using solar energy is a long- lasting commitment to Minnesota's future. This energy retrofit project also includes installing energy efficient windows, additional insulation, high efficient lighting, water reducing fixtures and more.

Refuge information can be obtained at several kiosks located at refuge entrance areas. For additional information, contact the staff at 218-847-2641. Check us out on Facebook as well.

11th annual photo contest

Capture those great images of nature at Tamarac.

The 11th Annual Photo Contest deadline is Sept. 14. Categories include Wildlife, Plant Life, Scenic, Recreation, and Nature's Abstracts. Up to 5 photos can be entered, no more than 2 per category.

For more information and contest rules, visit tamaracfriends.org.

Toast to Tamarac

On Friday, Sept. 14, from 4-8 p.m. in the Richwood Winery, it's the Toast to Tamarac!

The Friends of Tamarac invite you to their second annual Toast to Tamarac at Richwood Winery. The fundraiser will include wine tasting, appetizers, silent auction, games of chance and live music by the David Ferreira Trio, accompanied by Mike Bullock from Mike and the Monsters.

Cost is $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Profits from this event will help support the environmental education program at Tamarac, which connects children with nature.

Call 218-847-2641, Ext. 21 for tickets or purchase at Central Market, Tamarac Wildlife Refuge or the Winery. Richwood Winery is located at 27799 County Highway 34, Callaway, MN (218-844-5990).

Two Island Paddle

Join a Tamarac ranger on Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. for a kayak cruise on Two Island Lake. Learn about the aquatic wildlife ecosystem while watching wildlife during this special time of year. Bring your own kayak or canoe. Life jackets are required. Meet at the Two Island Lake access on Hwy 143.

Fall Color Nature Photo Safari

Come on a Fall Color Nature Photo Safari Sunday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m.

Experience autumn on the refuge through the lens of a camera!

With the fall colors nearing their peak, we will travel by car caravan to some very scenic and perhaps less known areas on the refuge. Discover how Tamarac's wildlife and plants prepare for winter. Meet at the visitor center for a brief photo composition refresher.

Meet at the Chippewa Picnic Area located 3 miles past the visitor center on County Hwy 26.

Annual Fall Festival -- Swans, A Tamarac Legacy

On Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., come enjoy the annual Fall Festival. This year's theme is Swans, A Tamarac Legacy.

Spend a day at the settlers' cabins to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the return of the Trumpeter. Learn about its natural history and struggle for survival through stories, activities and puppetry. Venture behind the gates into the wilderness on a guided refuge tour to view trumpeters and the beautiful places they call home.

View the Annual Photo Contest Entries and vote for your favorite. Guest performer will be puppeteer Michael Gallo. Lunch will be available for sale.

Autumn hike

On Saturday, Oct. 6, beginning at 10 a.m., join an autumn hike along the North Country National and Scenic Trail, which has arrived on the refuge!

The Laurentian Lakes Chapter invites you to get a taste of what's to come. Join us as we explore a portion of the trail. This hike is approximately 3 miles and will traverse through a mature hardwood forest. The hike will be one way starting from 400th Ave and ending on the Blackbird Wildlife Drive.

Special note: Wearing an article of blaze orange is recommended. Meet at the Chippewa Picnic Area located 3 miles past the visitor center on County Hwy 26. Shuttles will be provided.

Forest Fungi Walk

Take a Forest Fungi Walk on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m.

Join USDA plant biologist Tom Gulya for a walk in the woods. Explore the maple- basswood forest while in pursuit of fascinating fungi. Learn how to identify mushrooms and other fungi as you enjoy the colors of the season. Meet at the Old Indian Hiking Trail located on County Hwy 29 in the southern half of the refuge.

Pathways of the Ojibwe

The colors of auburn, gold and crimson shine brilliantly through rays of sunshine. The smell of newly fallen leaves permeate the air as I walk in the footsteps of the Ojibwe people. It is autumn in the woods and waters of Tamarac.

This 2.5-mile trail beneath my feet known as the Old Indian Hiking Trail, was forged by Native Americans who made extensive treks in their quests for maple syrup and wild rice.

Early in the spring, before the wildflowers even peeked through the soil, the Ojibwe began their trek to the sugarbush, a maple sugar camp on the north end of Tamarac Lake.

It was at least a two day walk, made by the whole family. The mighty maples were gashed into the sapwood and the maple sap was collected in birch bark containers placed at the base of the trees. A treasured seasoning, the syrup was often traded with early settlers.

In late summer, Native Americans traveled the trail again, often for several days to reach wild rice camps. During manoo-minike-giizis (the moon of the wild rice), wigwams covered in birch bark were built for protection from the weather for those cleaning, drying and parching the rice. Today tribal members still harvest wild rice in the traditional way, using canoes.

In addition to the Old Indian Hiking Trail, there are several other trails offered to the hiking enthusiast. Because Tamarac has over 20 lakes and 3 rivers, most trails wind through forests leading to lakes, ponds, and marshes.

Located in the transition zone of three biomes -- the boreal forest, the deciduous forest and the prairie, the refuge is home to a diversity of wildlife.

Look for bald eagles, white tail deer, bear, beaver, trumpeter swans, migratory songbirds and wolves. The northern portion of the refuge or sanctuary area, is closed from early spring to September. Allowing for minimal disturbance during the breeding season, this section re-opens to the public just in time to enjoy fall color.

This area has numerous trails to explore; leading to some remote and wild areas. Names such as Ogemash, Chippewa, Lost Lake and Teacracker may spark your curiosity. The southern third of Tamarac is open year round. This area, which includes the Old Indian Hiking Trail and the Pine Lake Ski Trail, will soon include the North Country National and Scenic Trail as well. During the winter, you have the opportunity to ski or snowshoe in quiet solitude. The Pine Lake Ski Trail is occasionally groomed.

As you wander on the refuge, remind yourself of those who traveled before you and appreciate the richness and beauty of this land.

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