Earlier this spring, 37 students from Cook County Public Schools stepped out of their school, hopped on their bicycles, and peddled the Gitchi Gami State Trail, where they helped restore native landscaping. The field trip was a hands-on event that brought together bicycle safety, natural resource management, and career exploration.
The Gitchi Gami Trail Association organized the event with funding from Parks & Trails Council and in coordination with the local school district and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
They seeded the newly constructed 3.5-mile segment from Grand Marais to Cut Face Creek State Wayside, which opened in 2021. Severe drought last fall paired with increased spring precipitation caused erosion, which removed previously sown native seed. Working under the guidance of the MnDNR, Michelle Pierson from the GGTA ordered the native seed and coordinated a plan to involve local youth in getting on to the trail and helping to sow the seeds.
The field trip started with a bicycle safety lesson. Bicycles were provided through a fleet established through a previous P&TC grant and which grew under a Cook County SHIP program. The students learned about the trail and native seed planting from DNR trail manager Oliver Liu. Then, the students worked in small groups to prep the ground by raking the soil, followed by scattering the seeds. DNR staff followed behind with a watering truck to help start the germination. They ended the day with a picnic by Lake Superior before bicycling back to school.
This event was a true collaboration that the GGTA hopes to replicate again. A fall field trip is already in the works that will involve a charter school in Grand Marais.
This project was part of P&TC’s Habitat Grant Program for our Friends Group Partners. In 2023 P&TC awarded four grants totaling $10,000.