With 117 acres to wander through, Sucker Creek is a naturalist's delight in Detroit Lakes
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Since 2006, with the opening of the city-owned Sucker Creek Preserve, area residents have had a unique opportunity to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of 64 acres of the area's natural ecosystem, without leaving the confines of t...
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Since 2006, with the opening of the city-owned Sucker Creek Preserve, area residents have had a unique opportunity to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of 64 acres of the area's natural ecosystem, without leaving the confines of the city.
And now, with the opening of the 53-acre Upstream Sucker Creek (the entrance of which is located just 3/10 of a mile down the road on the opposite side of the street), residents can stroll through a total of 117 acres of native grasses, plants, trees and wildlife.
"That's a pretty good chunk of land we've got, saved in perpetuity," says Sally Hausken, the local environmentalist who was the driving force behind the creation of both the original Sucker Creek Preserve and the new Upstream Sucker Creek.
It's the culmination of more than a decade of work by Hausken, whose stamp can be seen throughout Greater Sucker Creek, as the combined city park is now known.
But she is quick to point out that she could not have completed the work without the city - which acquired the original Sucker Creek Preserve in 2001, and Upstream Sucker Creek in 2013 - as well as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lake Detroiters, and all the other local groups and individuals who contributed their time, talents and finances to the project.
"I got help from a lot of people on this," she said, "especially the (original) Sucker Creek Preserve."
The process of acquiring the land and obtaining the necessary grant funding to restore that property served as the prototype for establishing Upstream Sucker Creek, she added.
But unlike the original Preserve, Hausken first purchased the property from the Long family herself, then went about the process of obtaining funding for the acquisition by the city.
"I wanted to make sure we got it - I didn't want to take a chance on losing it," she said, noting that the land had been very attractive to housing developers, and there had also been talk of selling rights to the mineral springs on the property to a beverage company.
"I've been coming here all my life," says Hausken, whose great aunt, Beatrice Alice McMichael, once owned a cottage near Sucker Creek on Big Detroit Lake - the same home where she herself now lives.
As such, she knows just about every variety of grass, plant, tree and wildlife that can be found on the property.
"We've got some pretty diverse stuff here," she said. "I think it's a nice place for humans, and animals, to enjoy."
Hausken talks at length about future plans for restoring as many of the property's native grasses and plants as she can - with a little help from her friends.
"We need a friends committee - people who know what to do to help maintain the land, and people who are interested in learning more about the environment," she said, adding that she would also like to see a management plan developed because, as she put it, "then I wouldn't have to be so attentive all the time."
But Hausken's love for Sucker Creek is on display as she strolls along its asphalt paths (completely handicap accessible), and the two marsh walks that span some of the property's most picturesque wetlands, pointing out all the unique flora and fauna she discovers.
Though her detailed knowledge is impressive, Hausken also readily admits when she finds a plant that she just can't identify.
"I'm stumped," she said, adding with a laugh, "I don't think that's happened before. I'm going to have to go look that one up."