|Wolsfeld Woods Scientific and Natural Area|
Wolsfeld Woods is the best remaining metro-area example of the Big Woods habitat that once covered south-central Minnesota. The large sugar maples—some more than 200 years old—that dominate this 221-acre parcel can give you the feeling of walking through a woodland cathedral. The closed canopy cr...
Carver Park Reserve
|Description: Situated on the western edge of the Twin Cities, Carver Park Reserve is home to the Lowry Nature Center, Grimm Farm Historic Site and King Waterbird Sanctuary.
First, step back in time and explore a restored 1870s farmhouse. Vision how Wendelin Grimm, a German immigrant farmer, helped transform the Upper Midwest into America's dairy belt with alfalfa developed on these very fields.
Cows are no longer mooing and field crops are not growing at this site. Today, policy allows no more than 20 percent of the reserve to be developed for active use and requires at least 80 percent be restored to and retained in a natural state. Carver Park Reserve encompasses 3500 acres. You can find all kinds of habitats to explore that take advantage of the winding trails, rolling wooded terrain and interconnected lakes and marshes.
Wildlife management has established programs to help with the reintroduction of native species to the Park District, including trumpeter swans and osprey. In 1984, Three Rivers Park District began an osprey reintroduction program with six young birds transplanted from northern Minnesota to Carver. Once common in southern Minnesota, these birds had all but disappeared due to loss of habitat and use of the pesticide DDT. As a result of these efforts there are dozens of pairs nesting in the Twin Cities.
Several wildlife watching viewing areas, located around the Fred E. King Waterfowl Sanctuary on Lundsten Lake, look out over an extensive wetland complex and provide an excellent opportunity to see both migrating and nesting water birds and waterfowl. You can see trumpeter swans from this spot.
Wildlife to Watch: Three Rivers Parks conducts annual surveys of songbirds in the parks. Records show that generalists like house wrens, northern cardinals, American goldfinches, blue jays, song sparrows and common yellowthroats are becoming more common; while grassland species such as bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows and meadowlarks are declining. Woodland species—wood thrush, scarlet tanager and ovenbird—show little change. The park is going through a period of rapid succession to forests, but the forests have not matured sufficiently yet to be suitable for woodland species of wildlife.
In addition to osprey and trumpeter swans, look for eastern bluebirds and bobolinks in the open areas, red-tailed hawks soaring overhead and migrating white pelicans resting on the water. A hoot from a barred owl or call of a common loon just may surprise you as you walk through the woods and wetlands.
A feeding station at the nature center attracts many birds, as well as resident raccoons, woodchucks, chipmunks, gray squirrels, and ground squirrels. White-tailed deer are plentiful and if you’re lucky, you might see mink or otter.
To maximize enjoying or photographing smaller species, such as butterflies and insects, visit the reconstructed prairie. You’ll find a vast array of colorful critters among the coneflowers, asters, tall grasses and in the maintained butterfly and hummingbird garden.
Special Tips: Visit the nearby Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska to do more wildlife watching.
Three Rivers Park District actively works to keep white-tailed deer herds in balance with the available habitat. As part of this deer management plan, special hunts are sometimes scheduled.
Other Activities: You will find easy access to this preserve through the extensive trail system, including paved biking and hiking trails. Stop at the nature center for information about current sightings and wildlife-watching opportunities. Osprey may be seen at nesting sites from May to July. However, the best time to view ospreys is in August when the young birds begin to fly.
Ownership: Three Rivers Park District
Size: 3500 acres
Closest Town: Victoria
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: