Bob holzei
Not only do swans and ducks need wild places, so do people.

Guest Blog: Large Cities Need Wilderness Areas

I didn’t expect to find a remote wilderness within 8 miles of Minneapolis Northwest, Minnesota! The sounds of the city were hushed, the leaves began to blush turning into an array of fall colors while holding on to the branches before making their transition to the forest floor.

I didn’t expect to find a remote wilderness within 8 miles of Minneapolis Northwest, Minnesota! The sounds of the city were hushed, the leaves began to blush turning into an array of fall colors while holding on to the branches before making their transition to the forest floor.

Elm Creek Park Reserve is a 4,900 acre park, located a short distance from the conference site where the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers held their annual conference this past September.

“This is the largest park in the metro area featuring a nature center, 30 miles of paved trails with outdoor activities for all ages,” stated guide Christopher Spah, Creative Services Manager for Minneapolis Northwest Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.

 

 

 

As the sun began to appear, we made our way to a walkway where adult swans and their offspring began their day of leisure on the far shore.  Photos were frozen in the moment before I walked through the wooded area to get closer to this natural world.

 

 

While waiting for the nature center to open at 9:00 A.M., I walked behind the center and saw two large Jake turkeys foraging for food.  I wondered how close I could get to them without scaring them away.  I stalked the turkeys with my camera.

 

 

One turkey had the largest thick beard I have ever seen.  When he stuck his neck out to get a better look at me, the beard came within an inch of the ground.  As the turkeys sauntered around the building I went to the other side of the nature center and slowly walked toward them shooting photos. Time stood still and I became part of a natural world I did not expect would be in such close proximity to a metropolis area.

elm creek 2
This Jake turkey had the longest beard I have ever seen.

 

 

 

Spah took me to the Mississippi River Coon Rapids Dam, and I envisioned Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn floating down the river.  With a renovation just about complete, the center would be open to visitors in early October.

 

 

Elm Creek Park Reserve's offers thirty-four different family activities including themes like “My Pre-Schooler & Me,” “Tales by the Bonfire,” “Terrific Trees,” “Apple Cider Events,” “Woodland Scavenger Hunts” and many others featured in the free guide available at the center.  A trail map is also available which guides folks to areas of interest. 

 

 

The memory of a wild place, the swans, ducks and turkeys would remain long after I returned home to my place in the country at St. Johns, Michigan. 

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  • Bob Holzei

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