Do you have interest in astronomy, birds, mammals, snakes, fish or ants?
If the answer is yes to any of these topics, then the place to be next weekend is the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, located in northern East Bethel at 2660 Fawn Lake Drive. Find directions by visiting www.cedarcreek.umn.edu/about/directions.
The University of Minnesota Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and Bell Museum of Natural History are co-hosting the Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9 event to give the public a chance to find out more about the thriving wildlife and research taking place on this large site. All events are free.
Mary Spivey, education coordinator at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, said all the activities during the inaugural open house last year will be back. The second annual open house will include even more options for family fun activities.
Most activities are very near the visitors center, but be prepared with insect repellent, sun screen and comfortable walking shoes.
The Bell Museum’s involvement is new this year. For the past nine years, the Bell Museum has conducted a 24-hour BioBlitz to find as many species as possible including animal, plants, insects and fungi, said Jennifer Menken of the Bell Museum.
The Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is in the Anoka Sand Plain, which the Bell Museum’s BioBlitz has never been to, so Menken is expecting they will find many species they did not see elsewhere, she said.
For example, Menken recently visited the site and found the Blanding’s turtle, which she has never seen before. She also hopes they find bull snakes.
The BioBlitz trail will be open throughout the two-day event to give you an opportunity to walk a very short loop with about 10 different stations on the plants, fungi, insects and other animals found at Cedar Creek. This trail is a great educational opportunity for young kids because it is right outside the visitor center and is only 200 yards long, Spivey said.
There will be a walk to Fish Lake where a naturalist will use a technique to get fish near the surface so they can collect some in a net and show people the fish before releasing them.
Another scientist will have various local snake species on display including bull, hognose, smooth green and redbelly snakes. The first 10 who sign-up on Saturday morning, June 9 will be able to go with this scientist in the field to see snakes in their natural habitat.
A graduate assistant, Adam Clark, who earned his undergraduate from Harvard University, will take people out on a walk to talk about the secret life of ants in their own habitat, Spivey said.
Menken will show mice, rats and other small animals collected in live traps on the Cedar Creek site. Later on, a group of six will go out in the field with this person to collect trail cameras that will capture larger animals on still photography.
East Bethel resident and artist Glenn Terry will discuss his latest painting venture called “100 Images of Cedar Creek.”
Friday, June 8
5 p.m. to dusk: beginner BioBlitz trail (self-guided)
5 to 10 p.m.: ExploraDome programs in main building
7 p.m.: Cedar Creek artist-in-residence talk
8 p.m.: evening animal survey
9 to 10 p.m.: evening insect collecting
Saturday, June 9
6 a.m.: bird walk
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: beginner BioBlitz trail (self-guided)
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Glenn Terry art exhibit
8 a.m.: small mammal survey
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: BioBlitz resource fair
9 a.m.: snake walk (limited to 10, sign up day of event)
10 a.m.: fish survey
11 a.m.: ants
Noon: insect sweep netting
1 p.m.: Geocaching
2 p.m.: trail camera retrieval (limited to six, sign up day of event)
4 to 5 p.m.: species identification and number countdown
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com