Need a little nature break in the great outdoors? Get some 'Tamarac Take Out'
Spending time outdoors makes us human beings healthier in body, mind and soul.
So even though there are currently no environmental education classes scheduled at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, due to area schools being closed due to COVID-19, the Friends of Tamarac and refuge staff have joined forces to offer some "Tamarac Take Out" kits for parents and kids to explore the wonders of nature together Sunday, May 10 — Mother's Day.
"We hope all our friends and neighbors are doing well in these trying times," said Friends of Tamarac Office/Gift Shop Manager Nancy Fischer. "Dealing with COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for all of us. The Friends of Tamarac has closed the Nature Store and our office is operating remotely. Tamarac Take Out is a great opportunity for us to replace lost revenue and give the children in our community unique products to learn and enjoy the great outdoors."
The kits are available in two forms: A $20 kit for younger learners, and a $25 kit for more advanced nature explorers. The kits can be purchased by calling 218-844-1767. More Tamarac-centered educational activities for kids and families to enjoy together can also be accessed at www.fws.gov/refuge/Tamarac/Visit/Just_For_Kids.html .
The activities found on Tamarac's website are "things you can go outside and do with your family," said Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Kelly Blackledge, while the Tamarac Take Out kits being sold by the Friends this weekend include some basic tools for various outdoor activities such as "magnifying glasses, bug boxes, bird journals and more."
Some of the books for identification of mushrooms, birds, insects, plants and other flora and fauna that are normally available at the Friends' Nature Shop can also be included in the kits by special request.
"It all comes in a backpack," Blackledge said.
Friends volunteers will be offering the backpacks for pickup outside the Tamarac Discovery Center (which, like the Visitor Center, will not be open to the public) between 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Some extra backpacks will be on hand for those who did not order in advance; however, Blackledge said, the supply is limited, so make sure to get there early.
And for those who simply want to explore all the wonders that the Refuge has to offer on their own, Blackledge said, all of Tamarac's hiking trails, fishing accesses and driving routes remain open.
"All of the hiking trails are available, the Blackbird Wildlife Drive is open, all of the fishing accesses that are normally open, are open, and all of those are being maintained," she said — there are even outdoor restroom facilities available at the Chippewa and Pine Lake public accesses.
In an attempt to maintain social distancing guidelines and prevent too many people from congregating in any particular area of the Refuge, Blackledge said, she's even put together a "super secret" map of some lesser-known trails that visitors can use. The map can be accessed at go.usa.gov/xvpcV .
"A lot of people utilize our refuge for a mental or physical health break," she said, adding that its trails and lakes are always available "for indulgence in the solace of nature."