During the peak of fall colors, Friends of Itasca State Park will host an assortment of activities Saturday, Sept. 30.
All are welcome to attend their annual meeting at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 30 at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center classroom to learn about park activities — past, present and future.
In the afternoon, Friends of Itasca State Park will guide the annual Ozawindib Fall Colors Hike, followed by a raffle drawing for an "Itasca Getaway."
Dr. Marla Spivak, a University of Minnesota researcher, shares "The Status of Bee Health: Untying a Messy Knot."
Status of bee health
Over the past decade, there has been a tragic breakdown in honey bee health.
Frequently referred to as colony collapse disorder, this erosion of honey bee health has taken place on an enormous scale, affecting most of North America and parts of Europe. In addition, many native bees are in decline. The Rusty Patch bumble bee, once common in Minnesota, was just put on the endangered species list.
How can we help bees? The simple solution of planting flowers, and keeping these flowers free of pesticide contamination, is rooted in solid research. When bees have access to better and more complete floral nutrition, they exhibit improved immune system function and behavioral defenses for fighting off effects of pathogens and pesticides.
Learn about honey bees' social healthcare system and more during Spivak's presentation from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center classroom.
Win an 'Itasca Getaway'
The Friends of Itasca State Park are sponsoring "Itasca Getaway," a raffle to benefit Itasca State Park. This year's proceeds will go to 2018 programming at the refurbished amphitheater.
First prize is a weekend package, including three nights at Douglas Lodge Cabin 4, four breakfasts and evening meals at Douglas Lodge, four adult tickets for the Chester Charles History and Wildlife Tour, a $100 gift certificate at Itasca Sports Rental and one annual park permit.
Second prize is four adult tickets for the Chester Charles, four evening meals at Douglas Lodge and one annual park permit.
Third prize is one annual park permit.
Tickets, at $5 each, are available until Friday, Sept. 29 at the Bemidji Area Chamber Visitor Center, Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Rock Creek General Store and Itasca Sports. Tickets will be sold Saturday at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center until the drawing at 4:30 p.m.
Take in the beautiful fall colors during the Friends of Itasca's annual Ozawindib Walk from 1 to 3:30 p.m., starting in front of Douglas Lodge. This hike along the Dr. Roberts Trail can be challenging, but is well worth the effort. It passes through a variety of forest types. Walk through black ash and a tamarack swamp on the way to the Old Timers Cabin. Mosey on past the cabin through birch, aspen and mountain maples. Stand among majestic red pine as you look across Leyendecker Lake. Wrap up the hike through stands of oak. Portions of this two-mile hike can be strenuous as the trail crosses over the rolling glacial hills that help create the Mississippi watershed basin at its beginnings around Itasca State Park. Dress for being outdoors including sturdy boots that can get wet/muddy and bring water, energy snack, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, insect repellent — including tick gaiters — and hiking/trekking poles.
Joining Friends of Itasca Park
It has been a busy and rewarding year for Itasca Park and the Friends with the installation of five park benches along the new bicycle trail, assisting in the acquisition of a tabletop interactive multimedia gallery featuring the Mississippi River at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center and sponsoring Itasca's Music Under the Pines entertainers and educational programs. Friends members also hosted ice cream socials at 10 park events.
Since 1993, the Friends of Itasca State Park has raised funds and used membership dues and donations to build playgrounds, complete park restoration projects and purchase amenities for park visitors to enjoy.
Annual membership in the Friends is $20 per person or $30 per family. Donations also are welcome. Either may be mailed to Friends of Itasca State Park, 36750 Main Park Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470. The Friends is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.
For more information about the Friends, go to www.friendsofitasca.org or visit the Friends of Itasca State Park on Facebook.