TThe pancake breakfast just never goes out of style and, for the Friends of Wild River State Park, it’s a great annual fundraiser. The event drew about 75 people and raised nearly $1,700 for the group in 2012. Kacie Carlson, a naturalist at the park, said that although there were plenty of the usual Friends members, there also were a number of people who were new to the organization. “One couple has lived here for 30 years and said they always wanted to get involved,” she said. Twenty-seven people either renewed their membership or became new members at the breakfast, and four new board members were added.
Traditionally, the pancakes are topped with maple syrup made from the maple tapped right there at the park, but last year wasn’t a good year for syrup, so the tables held organic syrup that came from elsewhere.
Besides the pancakes and a silent auction, the event included a presentation by Chris Stein, superintendent of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. He reminded the group that the riverway is actually a national park, protected for outdoor recreation. Joel Stedman, DNR central regional manager for parks and trails, gave a quick update on the potential for parks and trails funding at this years Minnesota Legislature.
Speaking of maple syrup . . .
Several state parks host maple syruping demonstrations in the spring, such as Wild River State Park, Fort Snelling State Park, Lake Bemidji State Park, Lake Maria State Park, Sibley State Park, Whitewater State Park and Maplewood State Park.
Generally, sap runs best from about March 15 to April 20, and it usually takes 30 to 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to get a gallon of pure maple syrup.
The DNR website has times and locations and for maple syrup programs. Some require registration, although all demonstrations are free.
By Linda Picone, Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota volunteer