ERSKINE, Minn. -- The Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges Association will host a Candlelight Ski and Owl Prowl event at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge near Erskine from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27.
The timing of this event is said to coincide with a near full moon, possible good snow conditions, clear skies and moderate temperatures, a release said.
Although all five of Rydell NWR’s trails will be open for cross country skiing or snowshoeing, Church Lake, Rice Lake, and Round Lake trails will be groomed and lit up for this event. Even though luminarias will be distributed along these three trails, organizers recommend that visitors bring along a headlamp (if they have one) in case it’s cloudy and there is minimal moonlight.
As visitors traverse the trails, two owl calling stations will be set up where the calls of several owl species (e.g., saw whet, barred and great horned) will be projected into the woods to try and generate a response.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be several changes to the event from past years. The Refuge Visitor Center will not be open to the public, so the only warm-up opportunity, if needed, will be one's vehicle. The outdoor restroom will be available.
Participants should feel free to bring their own snacks, coffee or hot chocolate as the event will not be able to provide any food or beverages this year.
Also, no ski equipment or snowshoes will be provided for check-out at the Refuge this year. If a participant doesn't have their own skis, they can rent them from the University of Minnesota-Crookston by calling either (218) 281-8520 or (218) 281-8586. They can also rent at no cost from Crookston Parks and Recreation by calling (218) 281-1232.
Skis and snowshoes can also be rented in Bemidji at BSU for $6 a day for students or $12 for non-students. For more information, visit bemidjistate.edu/services/campus-recreation/outdoor-program-center/rentals or call Mark Morrissey at (218) 755-3900.
In addition to dressing appropriately for the forecasted weather, guests should bring a mask. Currently, masks are required of all visitors to national wildlife refuges, when social distancing is not possible. There may be some instances during this event, such as at the owl calling stations, where a guest will need to wear a mask.
If temperatures are below zero or wind chills are in the double-digits below zero, the event will be cancelled and potentially rescheduled at a later date.