Categorized | FEATURED, LONGFELLOW, PETS

Bark Ranger Program starting soon

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

NPS staff creating new way for people and dogs to enjoy Coldwater Spring

The Bark Ranger trainings on Jan. 4 and 9 will be a great opportunity to engage with staff and volunteers, and to learn more about both the histories and the lay-out of Coldwater Spring. (Photo courtesy of NPS)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Bark Ranger Program is a joint venture of the National Park Service (NPS) and their non-profit partner, the Mississippi Park Connection. In early January, a cadre of four-legged volunteers and their owners will be sworn in at Coldwater Spring. New recruits to this awareness campaign will pledge to leash their dogs while walking at Coldwater Spring, pick up dog waste, and respect wildlife and habitat restoration.
NPS land manager Neil Smarjesse, leads the habitat restoration crews at Coldwater Spring. He said, “We would like to create a different way for people and their dogs to experience this place. We’re adjacent to the Minnehaha Dog Park, but we are not an off-leash area. When dogs are kept leashed, grassland-nesting birds (like the newly returned clay colored sparrow) aren’t disturbed. We are welcoming back indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, fox, coyote, deer, and many other species.”
The 29-acre site was added to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in 2010, with the goal of restoring the landscape to a prairie oak savannah. A major renovation, which included seeding 13 acres of prairie and wetlands, was completed in 2012. More than 1,000 trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers have been planted on the property.

 

Coldwater Spring carries historical and cultural significance for some Dakota tribes, as well as being considered a sacred site by other Dakota tribes. Coldwater Spring is a part of the Fort Snelling Historic District, protected as both a National Historic Landmark and National Register listed property under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.

 

Paula Swingley is the NPS volunteer coordinator. She said, “People love this place for many different reasons. The paths here aren’t straight-to-a-place paths; they meander. It’s a place to enjoy the prairie in all seasons. As part of the Bark Ranger training, there’s the added bonus of learning some of the non-visible history of this site. You can still see the Spring House and the ore bins, but there is so much more to learn.”
Bark Ranger trainings will be held on Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. The drop-in events will include a 30-minute walking tour of the site led by rangers. The address for Coldwater Spring is 5601 Minnehaha Park Drive South. GPS coordinates are: 44.901602, -93.198256. Registration isn’t required, but by going to  https://parkconnection.org/events  and signing up on Event Brite, you’ll be notified of weather-related changes or cancellations.
There is no cost to participate. There are four handicapped accessible parking spots on-site, and plenty of metered parking spots on the street. Canines participating in the BARK Ranger Program will receive a shiny collar tag. Sign up to be a Bark Ranger Ambassador (a volunteer who helps lead future trainings) and receive a stylish bandana. In either capacity, Swingley clarified, “Participants will absolutely not do any law enforcement. They are just there to demonstrate good practices.”
Americorps intern Claire Jaeger Mountain was instrumental in bringing the Bark Ranger Program to Coldwater Spring. She said, “The trainings will be a great opportunity to engage with staff and volunteers, and to hear stories unique to this historic and beautiful place.”

 

B – bag your dog waste,
A – always keep your dog on a leash,
R – respect wildlife and habitat restoration,
K – know where you can go.