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  • David | National Park Foundation
    NPF Volunteer Shop Centennial Campaign Centennial Licensing David Fall colors can be subtle far from the forests of the American heartland Here grasses on the lava flows of El Malpais National Monument bring their own special tiny beauty to an other worldly landscape Associated Park El Malpais National Monument Support Your Parks Help protect and preserve your more than 400 national parks Give 100 Give 50 Get the Free Owner s Guide Sign up for the latest park news and travel tips and get a free copy of the National Park Owner s Guide Sign Up Now Gear for Park Lovers NPF Est 1967 Washed Long Sleeve T Shirt 28 99 Buy Now See More Products National Park News 25 New Projects Getting More Kids Adults 140 000 4th Graders To Visit Public Lands Than President Obama And First Family To Light Natio Read More NPF Partners See All Partners Explore Explore Parks Find A Park National Park Week Find Your Park Expedition About Our Mission Our Partners Become a Partner Annual Report Board of Directors Contact Our Work All Programs Protect Connect Inspire Local Park Support Grant Applications Centennial Open Outdoors For Kids News Trail Talk Blog Travel Ideas

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/david-0 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    downriver in jubilant cacophony It s not hard to get away from the crowds though with just a little effort and adventure When you do find a quiet piece of the river there is no better place to be on a hot sunny day My wife the dog and I slowly drift downstream stopping to swim where spring fed creeks enter the river At these points where the cold creek water mingles with the warmer water of the river you can find the temperature that is just right for you Our last paddle of the year is usually in October when the summer crowds are difficult to imagine The bold greens of White Pines and cedars stand in stark contrast to a brilliant palette of autumn colors on the bluffs You might see duck hunters in flat bottomed boats with a happy dog in the bow or some late season anglers but on a warm sunny fall day you might also have the river all to yourself Yet the solitude of October is no match for that of January Then the river s life demands an observant eye and an appreciative spirit if you look your reward might be a hawk seen soaring above the trees Even in the deepest cold of winter springs seep from the bluffs and spill into the river One winter day I snowshoed with friends through deep snow along a spring fed creek just above where it entered the river We marveled at the abundant green of watercress growing in a few inches of water even though temperatures the week before had been 20 degrees below zero The creek ran through a campsite I knew only from warmer seasons I had often camped or stopped there for lunch like I reckoned people had been doing

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-6 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    made a good pair Caroline grew up along the river in Afton and was spending her fifth summer as a seasonal ranger on the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway Elsa was from Oshkosh Wisconsin originally and had worked at National Parks in the western United States and Alaska over the previous few years this was her first summer at a Midwest park Elsa loved birds and interpretation while Caroline seemed passionate about the idea of a National Park in her backyard As we paddled past the Great blue heron rookery quiet and still with no sign our sound of the inhabitants my theory was they were all sleeping in because it was Saturday we spotted some long legged shore birds dashing around muddy flats Elsa quickly identified the birds as killdeer She said she had first identified them while paddling alone on the river above St Croix Falls it had taken her 20 minutes but now she would never forget You always remember when you identify a new bird When you see the bird again and recognize it you recall where you were and who you were with that first time Awe sprey When we had introduced ourselves at the start of the trip everyone had shared their favorite bird As far as I m concerned that s like trying to name your favorite Bob Dylan album but I said Osprey As we approached the Cedar Bend railroad bridge everyone s attention turned to a nest situated on top of it and two wide winged birds wheeling in the air They were Osprey parents and we interpreted all the activity as them showing their offspring the wonders of flight A few of us dawdled in our kayaks just below the bridge watching the big raptors fly and listening to their keening cries As an aspiring angler this unique bird which eats almost exclusively the fish it catches is an inspiration to me and my amateur efforts they on average take 12 minutes to catch a fish But as someone who also loves to travel osprey offer an even more ambitious model the birds are known to log as many as 160 000 miles migrating during their 15 20 year lifespan Perhaps it was the cool morning but the Osprey seemed to be pretty enthusiastic about getting their young ones airborne for the first time They would need strong wings soon for the journey south We left them to their labors and paddled on When our group stopped on a sandbar just downstream to stretch our legs the geese were the entertainment Caroline and I were talking when we stopped to look up at a couple dozen of the birds attempting to fly in formation I say attempting because before our eyes their shaky V completely disintegrated each bird seeming to fly suddenly in its own direction I m pretty sure I saw a couple birds collide mid air We agreed they had better get more practice before beginning their migration

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-5 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    process to get to know and love Much of it flows through flat floodplain forests the banks sandy or grassy the trees homogeneous hardwoods It is a wild river with few houses in sight and clean clear water But perhaps especially because it is so close to the Twin Cities a rookie to the river would assume it is more subjugated by man that it is as densely populated as any of our popular tourist lakes that its water is fouled by cities and farms There is no evidence to support those ideas but I have found that sometimes people see what they assume not what they actually witness There are spots though which can easily grab the attention of a first time visitor O Brien is one of them Green rock drops 10 feet straight down into the water A popular walking trail runs along these banks screened by stands of mature pines which grow directly up from the very edges of the drop offs From the path those pines frame the river and the opposite shore perfectly acting like windows to focus the eye It is interesting that the 2 200 acre park was created when the daughter of the old lumber baron William O Brien donated his holdings to the state It is interesting because men like him made their fortunes de timbering the entire river valley and the valleys of its tributaries Today pine are the exception not the rule and they are at most 100 years old There are beautiful stands of them all along this stretch of river especially in the fall when the leafy trees turn red and orange and gold and winters when the surrounding woods are brown and gray and muted the pines color seems to take on a darker hue and they are a feast for eyes hungry for the color of growth and life Because of how dry it had been all through late summer and early fall experts on meteorology arborism and leaf color that includes nearly all Minnesotans predicted a fast and disappointing fall The trees would turn brown and yellow and then the leaves would fall We were wrong It had been a beautiful luxurious season It had started early though and I thought it might be past its peak by the day we got out there but if it was I couldn t tell because I couldn t take my eyes off the bluffs As we paddled we talked of what those old growth pine forests must have been like Think of trunks 12 feet across Think of the forest floor covered in a thick carpet of soft red needles muffling all sound Think of the fallen trees dead of old age decaying into soil Think of stretching your neck to look up toward the sky those giants swaying in the wind blowing 150 feet above If I could travel through time just once I think it might be to the pre European St Croix

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-4 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    the shocker sampling is noisy work The contraption works best in shallow water and I guess John figured the only way to find out how shallow we could go was to find out how shallow we could go so the netting was interrupted frequently by hopping into the river and dragging and pushing the beast of a boat off the rocks Then back on the deck to pull more redhorse out of the water The sky was clear and the sun intense it was sweaty work Getting into the river to free the boat was refreshing On the bow deck with the electricity flowing into the water we would stare at the surface Sometimes there wouldn t be a fish for a couple minutes often times they would come in big bursts as we hit a school of redhorse Their white bellies would flash first and then they would drift toward us One species liked to fly out of the water flopping and splashing perhaps a taste of what boating in Asian carp infested waters is like But these were all native species the bottom feeders perhaps not exciting fish but indicators of clean clear water Of interest to anglers we brought into the boat a couple 18 smallmouth a two foot long northern pike a couple eater sized walleyes and many tiny bluegills I was hoping we would find a nice musky but no such luck In the middle of a bright hot day they were probably laying in the deep holes where our electricity couldn t reach them Deb said one of the river s most enigmatic fish the sturgeon also rarely comes up in the surveys because they seek the deep water The day after my trip she sent me a photo of a 39 sturgeon they caught at the next station downstream We went down the river twice first on the Wisconsin side then on the Minnesota At the bottom of each stretch we took inventory Deb pulled each fish out of the tanks and laid it on a measuring board identifying the species and calling out the length in centimeters which John wrote on a clipboard Then she deposited the fish in a five gallon bucket When there were five or six of the same species I would weigh the bucket with a hand scale calling out the weight which John wrote on the clipboard The game fish were all weighed individually on a digital scale as soon as they quit flopping around Then back in the river for them Many of the fish remained stunned laying in the shallows by the boat Most would recover and swim off a couple might become osprey or eagle food I held one of the walleye until it revived and staggered away The day we were out we caught 227 fish representing 17 species Golden Shorthead Greater Silver and River redhorse Northern hogsucker White sucker Smallmouth bass Bluegill Northern pike Rock bass Walleye yellow perch burbot black crappie

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-3 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    t quite natural This is where in the early days of St Croix Valley settlement limestone had been quarried for two purposes in construction the rock itself was used in foundations and it was also processed into mortar which cemented the rock together This wasn t a big mining operation They were digging by hand going for the easy stuff and hauling the rock out on horse drawn wagons Just before we started walking again Deb Ryun of the St Croix River Association pointed out robins flitting through the forest around us and even starting their first bit of cheep cheeping a sure sign that spring is already starting its return despite that cold wind We left the woods and started across open flat land perched above the St Croix a river terrace Here we were on Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway property that adjoins the Standing Cedars land We learned more about how these pieces of land will be managed in close coordination a bit later We paused at the edge of the bluff where we looked out across the frozen river It was quiet and still and beautiful but I don t think I was alone in dreaming of open water season We trekked a short ways along the bluff and stopped again where there was evidence that decades or even a century before someone else had thought it a fine view An old limestone foundation was nestled in the brush remnant of a historic cabin They would have hauled their water from a spring gushing out of the bluff below We were standing in a huge thicket of lilacs which those settlers had planted way back when It s unknown when the cabin was built but Steve told us that no roof can be seen in 1938 aerial photos suggesting it had been abandoned well before that year The path from there meandered through meadows with lots of big red cedars and brushy prickly ash overtaking what was once prairie I was walking with Deb from the River Association when she paused and sniffed and pointed out the barely discernible scent of fox When we came to a stop Steve explained that the loss of natural prairie to cedars prickly ash and other plants was the focus of a plan by Standing Cedars and the National Park Service to restore it to its natural state while creating a bit of energy and paying for the project with the wood The plan is to have a logger come into the site and remove undesirable trees including the cedars and run them through a woodchipper on site The chips will then be hauled to to a power plant in St Paul where they ll be burned to generate electricity The plan works particularly well because it won t cost anything The cost of the logging operation will be covered by revenue from selling the chips to the power plant After the harvesting more work will be needed to remove

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-2 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    carry the canoes far from our cars to get them in the water the river was lapping at the parking lot at the landing This would be a mandatory life jacket and wits about us day but it would be the river We pushed off into the current and set down our paddles again imagining we wouldn t have much use for them The two guys in the bows took that idea to heart while us sternmen ruddered and ferried to keep us on track The river carried us along quickly We passed through the Franconia bluffs admiring the ancient artistry of the rocks up close thanks to water that was five feet higher up the cliffs than the last time I d passed through We stopped on a backwater island and stood stretching cold muscles and talking We all attended kindergarten or first grade together in Stillwater almost thirty years ago I looked at the three guys standing next to the river and saw four of my oldest friends The backwater where we paused is an anomaly on the St Croix It is home to two things absent from most of the river s plentiful side channels hills and rocks Piles of glacial stone adorn the islands painted with lichen The first trip of the year has previously been dubbed the Annual Waterfowl Harassment Tour with all respect to our feathered friends It is good to have them home again but they don t seem to appreciate the reunion much Often we will jump dozens of pairs of ducks especially wood ducks and geese out from the banks where they are propagating the next generation of their species But with the river high and the date early they weren t on their nests yet but the valley was full of life This day the birds were sandhills seen and heard abundant immature eagles and a bold fox sparrow Gabe spotted in highbush cranberry near one of my favorite spring fed waterfalls And Great Blue Herons This stretch of river is good for spring trips because of the heron rookery in a backwater along the way Sometimes it is a prehistoric din the big birds squawking and flapping on their nests high in the trees This day it was quiet though nearly every nest hosted a tall and slender bird standing on its edge Perhaps it was the males showing off their homemaking skills to that season s potential mates A river distorts time and space The human brain s default is to look at a route and see perhaps forty feet to make a turn but you only have twenty feet as the current takes its share It may look like thirty seconds to pass downstream of one tree and above another but when riding a river it might be twenty seconds or ten but never more So we arrived at our takeout twelve or so miles downstream from our start in the number of hours that six miles

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-1 (2016-02-12)
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  • Greg | National Park Foundation
    I was exploring contains many large red and white pines dating back to the 1890s But I saw how the big windstorm of July 1 2011 also did damage here The State Forest is named after one of the St Croix River region s many conservation leaders Governor Warren P Knowles led the state from 1965 1971 in addition to previous stints as state senator and lieutenant governor Knowles was a Republican born in River Falls Wisconsin along the Kinnickinnic River and lived in New Richmond along the Willow River Knowles never missed an opportunity to get out and enjoy Wisconsin s magnificent natural resources He coupled this love for the outdoors with an unwavering commitment to conservation according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources While Governor Knowles initiated efforts to reduce water pollution and expanded efforts to increase the acquisition of land for conservation purposes He also founded the Governor s Fishing Opener in 1968 Knowles died during a break from fishing on opening day in 1993 Read more about Governor Knowles State Forest here I chose to record the walk with a few photos a video and haiku the brief Japanese poems which are perfect for nature notes They have traditionally celebrated the seasons and stressed natural imagery Walking untracked trails The sun melts fresh fallen snow Halfway north again Escarpment springs seep Trickle down snowy ravines To frozen river Windstorm evidence Forest full of fallen pines Breeze brushes blowdown Associated Park Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway Support Your Parks Help protect and preserve your more than 400 national parks Give 100 Give 50 Get the Free Owner s Guide Sign up for the latest park news and travel tips and get a free copy of the National Park Owner s Guide Sign Up Now Gear for

    Original URL path: http://wwww.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/npf-share-story/greg-0 (2016-02-12)
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