Olmsted County Parks Newsletter - Summer 2022
Volume 8, Issue 2
In this Issue:
Maple Syruping, Woodworking Projects, Mechanical Resource Management, and more...
Mechanical Resource Management
by Celeste Lewis
When reading the words “resource management,” what comes to mind? Here in the parks department, we would pre-requisite those words with the word “natural.” Natural resource management involves a wide range of ideas as well, and the term is very broad. According to Wikipedia the definition is as follows:
Natural resource management (NRM) is the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations (stewardship)….
A large focus here at Chester Woods Park has been about controlling the spread of invasive species, both on land as well as in the water. This can be a daunting task, especially when you have approximately 1330 acres of park to manage, 112 of that being reservoir.
During the past year, and especially over the course of this past winter, with the assistance of a very dedicated volunteer, the park has been able to use a forestry mower to clear numerous areas in the park of buckthorn and honeysuckle. This mower attaches to the front of a skid loader and is powerful enough to “mow over” trees and shrubs. This piece of equipment can clear acres of invasive trees and shrubs in a fraction of the time that it would take us by hand.
Loren Martinson has been volunteering for the past two winters at Chester Woods Park. This winter he had the opportunity to run the parks skid loader and forestry mower and clean out over 200 plus acres of buckthorn and honey suckle. The areas that have been cleaned out are almost unrecognizable!
Once the invasives have been “mowed/cleared” by the forestry mower, staff and volunteers will follow up with a chemical spray to kill the stumps of the invasive plants. Once the invasives have been mowed and sprayed, each management area has its own plan on restoration and maintenance. Many areas are followed up with native seedings of grasses and flowers and continued mowing or burning to keep knocking the invasives back and allow the natives to take hold.
The continued maintenance on these sites is very important as the initial clearing will not keep the invasives away in the long run. It takes many years of hard work and dedication to restore an area of land back to its natural state, but the payout is immeasurable.
by Tim Buri
The 2022 maple syrup season started out great. I worked with the Kasson-Mantorville school group. We prepped all the pails and taps, washing them in late February. The next time they came out we loaded all the gear up and headed up to “Doc’s” forest to start tapping trees. I taught them to always drill on the south side of the tree (because the warmth of the sun makes the sap run faster). We tapped 15 trees on “Doc’s” land and set out 5 more taps at Sugarbush. The next time they came out we collected 30 gallons of sap and brought it to the barn for boiling. I explained to them how we boil sap down to syrup by placing it in stainless steel drums heated by fire. Then cold weather interrupted our process. We waited a week and then were able to collect 25 gallons of sap. By the end of March we were working on our second batch of syrup.
We have completed our maple syrup programs, during the last two weekends in March we taught over a hundred visitors about the process of collecting and processing maple syrup. As a result, we have sold all our 28 jugs of syrup we made. We are hoping to wrap up a successful season of making maple syrup so we can have syrup for sale at the nature center.
Woodworking Projects at Oxbow Park
by Ryan Waldee
Some new and exciting projects are happening at Oxbow Park. With the new Nature Center being built, we have been working on some creative woodworking designs that will be displayed in the exhibit hall. When the new road alignment was completed at Oxbow, we harvested trees for these wood working projects. Some projects include benches that will be located around the outside of Nature Center, live edge shelving, and four-inch tree slabs that will be displayed in the exhibit hall. The logs that couldn’t be used for the projects were saved and will be used for campground firewood. The logs that could fit in the available sawmill were milled and stacked to dry-mainly for shelving. We purchased an Alaskan Mill for the logs that wouldn’t fit into a conventional sawmill. The logs that we have been cutting with the Alaskan Mill will be used inside the exhibit hall of Nature Center to be stood up and attached to floor and ceiling. The full tree slab is pictured below, and we are very excited to install them in new Nature Center.
Tim Buri and Lonnie Helb using the Alaskan mill.
Finished milled tree slab.
Welcome Megan Long
by Jaide Ryks
We would like to introduce our newest full-time naturalist at Oxbow Park: Megan Long! Megan has been a seasonal naturalist at Oxbow Park for the past 5 years. She grew up in Red Wing, MN with a love for nature and the outdoors. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Crookston in 2015 with Natural Resource Management and Wildlife Management degrees and Communications minor. She has worked at many nature and educational centers including Crystal Cave, Hartley Nature Center, Northwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Itasca State Park, Nebraska Wildlife Encounter and more!
In her free time Meg enjoys bird watching, spending time with her nieces and nephews, reading, and fishing with her husband Tony. Meg also enjoys writing about nature in her blog “Megan’s Nature Nook.”
Starting full time at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, Megan is most excited for “the opportunities the new Nature Center will bring with educational classes and programming and getting to work with the staff and animals year-round instead of just part of the year.”
Please welcome Megan into the Olmsted County Parks family!
Friends of Oxbow Update
by Kris Nelson
Friends of Oxbow (FOX) is pleased to announce that we are over ⅓ of the way toward our goal of raising $1 million for the New Nature Center! With recent events such as Fall Fest, Virtual Valentines, and the upcoming Brews for the Zoo, donors have been generous in their contributions. We continue to plan a recognition wall for the New Nature Center that will honor donations of $1000 or more. As 2022 unfolds we look forward to planning more events to highlight the incredible zoo and park we support. Please keep an eye on our website or social media accounts for updates.
Friends of Chester Woods Update
by Ernie Freudenburg
Just what is Forest Bathing and What are We Going to Do About It?
Don’t get too excited about this bathing term. Friends of Chester Woods is not going to be installing hot tubs in the forest! So, what exactly are we talking about? Simply put: A total immersion of all your senses in the forest environment while slowly walking through the space. Research has shown there are many health and wellness benefits from practicing this exercise. FOCW and Chester Woods Park will partner by offering weekly opportunities to immerse ourselves with a walk that we will be calling “Mindfulness in Nature.”
My first introduction to the concept of the health benefits from spending time in nature is when our Olmsted County Park Superintendent, Karlin Ziegler, came for a meeting at Chester Woods and talked about Park Rx. This is a national registry of approved natural settings that doctors can use to prescribe to patients the practice of getting into nature for their health and wellbeing. Their mission is to “improve people’s health by encouraging providers to prescribe time in nature,” Chester Woods is on the list. I had never heard anything about this before and my curiosity peaked.
Here are some not so positive stats relating to our culture today. On average Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Is being indoors to this degree good for us? Dr. Brent Bauer, of the Mayo Clinic, on a recent webinar cited these startling statistics. Asthma rates are rising and 1 out of 11 children have symptoms. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 3 years. Adults also have unhealthy symptoms. A typical American spends less than 15 minutes on exercise. You can probably guess how little time on average is spent by us adults in nature.
There has been a lot of excitement by healthcare providers and educators in finding helpful ways to integrate activities in the natural environment. ParksRx America, ParksRxAmerica.org, is a national program that provides many resources on the health benefits of being in nature on a regular basis. How do we join this movement at Chester Woods? We, as a Friends group, can provide opportunities for our area residents to take advantage of immersing ourselves in the forest environment.
Monica Prelle, writing for REI in 2018, went to Japan to explore this topic. “In 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries instituted a national forest bathing program and has since designated several regional forest bathing reserves. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is simply spending time outdoors under the canopy of trees. In Japanese, “shinrin” means forest and “yoku” means bath or immersing oneself in the forest and soaking in the atmosphere through the senses.”
Dr. Qing Li, another Japanese leader on this topic states, “It is important not to hurry on a forest walk. It is not a hike. . . Walking slowly will help you to keep your senses open, to notice things and smell the forest air.” In addition, Monica writes, “it is necessary to minimize distractions and let yourself fully immerse in the forest environment. Turn off any electronic devices and stow them away in your pocket or pack."
“Listen to the sounds of the forest. Look at the scenery surrounding you. Take slow deep breaths and smell the fragrance of the forest air. Touch the trees and feel the leaves and soil. Forest bathing takes place at a slow, almost meditative pace. Take your time and look around as you stroll along on a forest path. Engage your senses and observe your surroundings. Stop every once in a while, and sit or look up and all around. Be still.”
Many people will feel more comfortable forest bathing under the guidance of a certified guide, though it is not mandatory or recommended for everyone. For us at Chester Woods County Park, we are going to be instituting a weekly Mindfulness in Nature experience each Wednesday, May 11 through September 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Since none of our Friends of Chester Woods volunteers are certified in Forest Bathing, we will have to call it our “Mindfulness in Nature” guided walks. Come and experience the forest with us along with giving your health a big boost!