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Pine to Prairie Birding Trail goes international

There was a buzz of excitement in the air at the conference center inside Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Detroit Lakes this Saturday.

As attendees at the city's 12th annual Festival of Birds converged on the M-State campus for a special luncheon, they learned that their area birding opportunities were about to get a considerable boost.

Presenters Carol Henderson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Christine Tymchak of the Department of Manitoba Conservation revealed that on Tuesday, Minnesota's Pine to Prairie Birding Trail would take a "historic leap to the north."

Representatives from the state of Minnesota and the Canadian province of Manitoba met at the international border near Roseau, Minn., to sign an agreement that would make the Pine to Prairie the first international birding trail.

Minnesota's 200-mile Pine to Prairie Trail, with its unique blend of forests, woodlands, tallgrass prairie, sand dunes, bogs and marshes, rivers and lakes, offers 45 wildlife viewing sites and opportunities to view over 275 species of birds. The Canadian loop offers an additional 30 viewing sites and between 200-300 different bird species, Tymchak said.

Extending from west central Minnesota northward through Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Hecla Island in the province's Interlake region, the joining of the two trail segments is intended to "promote wildlife viewing on both sides of the border," Henderson said.

"They're ready -- they've done a wonderful job," Henderson added, noting that most of the signage and trail preparation on the Canadian side of the border is already done.

With the addition of the 300-mile Canadian loop, the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail now stretches more than 500 miles in length, with the two segments connecting at three points along the border, near Roseau, Warroad and Lancaster.

"It's the largest trail of its kind in North America," Tymchack said.

"Birding is a huge opportunity in Canada, and in Manitoba," Tymchack said, noting that it has become an increasingly popular family activity.

Now that the agreement has been signed, she added, the next step is to begin developing maps of the trail for tourists, as well as a new logo, brochures, and a Web site.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454