Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor recreation’

Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor recreation’


August 24th, 2015

submitted by Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, and printed with permission from the Renville County Register

What if a young couple with children happened to stop in our town? And, what if they were thinking about moving back to a rural area from the big city to raise their kids here?

And, what if they stopped at the convenience store and found the bathrooms to be a mess? And what if the clerk behind the counter was a grump and didn’t seem to care whether he or she even liked their job, and not to mention people?

And, what if they wanted to spend a night or several days scouting out our towns as a potential new place to raise their kids? Could they locate a motel, hotel, or bed-and-breakfast without too much effort?

Could this young couple find parks easily? Are there direction signs available and visible to a newcomer?

Is our town friendly to riding bikes or walking around to see things? What kind of impression of our streets, stores, shops and restaurants is presented to the newcomers? Are there irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after the dog goes potty?

If a young family does find a park in our towns is there something for kids to do or play on? How about a picnic table where the newcomers or travelers can stop to eat their picnic lunch? Is there a bench in the park for the parents to sit on as they watch their kids unwinding from a trip in the car?

What if the parents of the other kids playing on the playground equipment are busy texting and talking while their own kids bully the newcomer’s kids? What if the texters/talkers never speak up to stop the bullying? Would this young family want to move to this town after this episode?

What if a young family looking for a new town to live in heard there was a swimming pool? Could they find info about it? Could they even find it or are there no signs about it? Could they locate a sign about open hours for public swimming? Is there a “kiosk” in a park where they could learn more about our town, including locations of important (to young families) places?

As the young family drives, walks, or bikes around the town they are looking at the houses and properties of the residents. Would there be well-kept lawns, flowers, and a well-kept house on each lot? What if there were junk cars, appliances, and junk of all kinds stacked up in some yards? Are the weeds pulled up around the houses instead of hiding the house from the street?

As travelers or possible new citizens to our towns drive into town, what kind of welcoming signs are there for them to see? Are the public service organizations listed at the entrance to our towns? Is the welcoming sign attractive and well-kept? Are there flowers around the welcome sign, or weeds?

As you can imagine, we could go on and on about first impression of our own towns. Discussing our town from a stranger’s perspective can be difficult and even embarrassing.

As you can see, everyone in our towns can be an ambassador for our towns. Imagine a stranger pulls up to where you are gardening or working in your yard. He or she asks where such and such a place is. Can you be helpful with that? We have seen where a home owner drove his or her own car and led the newcomer visitors to a church for a funeral in our town. That can convey a good impression about our town.

Going the extra mile really makes sense. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Helpful, friendly, cheerful, accommodating, nice, are just some of the words that can describe many of the people in our towns. Could there be more? Are you one of them?

Tatanka Bluffs Corridor, consisting of Redwood (16 towns) and Renville County (10 towns) should be an area that can make that first good impression on a stranger. Each of our 26 towns can plan, work, fix, plant, clean and be attractive to anyone who is looking for a super nice place to live.

We might consider becoming more familiar with some of the beautiful parts of our Counties too. Then, when we talk with strangers or possibly new members of our communities, we can share with them that there is more than those beautiful and green corn fields in our two counties. We have one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota. That is, of course the Minnesota River and its valley, plus the tributaries flowing into it. There are parks in both counties that hold many beautiful sights for folks to enjoy. The Minnesota River is the “zipper” that holds the two counties together.

We can make a list of all the things people would like about our town. Then we can make a list of what they might not like about it. Which list is longest? Can anything be done about any of those negative things about our towns?

Attitude is a biggie when we think about our Tatanka Bluffs Corridor area. Is our attitude that we don’t need any newcomers or boomerangers to come to our towns? Boomerangers are former students who might want to raise their kids where they can become “Free-Range Kids”. They want a safe and friendly place to raise their kids. A good attitude about our towns will make us think of the future of our towns. What would we like to see in the future? Will we still be a viable community in the future or will we just be hanging by a thread as we lose people and don’t gain any productive citizens anymore?

Becoming an ambassador for our towns is easy to do. Survival of our 26 communities is important to the future of our Counties. Can you help?


Sven says, “No matter how small and unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to do better things.”


August 17th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member — printed with permission from the Renville County Register

Most Renville and Redwood County residents like to see the Minnesota River Valley and the parks that can be found in and near the valley.

We are well aware of the unique and ancient rock outcrops in the valley and in the parks. These rocks are three and a half billion years old. They may have been at the base of a mountain range that ran across Minnesota, according to some geologists.

We enjoy driving between the two counties (the Tatanka Bluffs Corridor) and seeing the beautiful trees, the river winding through the flood plain and the wildlife that may appear at any time.

Most of us are also aware that the Minnesota River is really too small to have carved this valley in only 10,000 years. The Glacial River Warren, flowing through the breech in the glacial moraine holding back the water in Glacial Lake Agassiz did have the power and volume to carve the valley.

River Warren scoured off the soil on top of the bedrock leaving the bedrocks exposed. The exposed rocks were also attacked by the huge river and whirlpools were formed. These had gravel, sand and larger rocks trapped within the powerful circular current.

As these whirlpools spun, the abrasion by the gravel and rocks bored its way down into and in some cases, through the exposed bedrock.

Some whirlpools only made shallow “kettles” on the rock surface. These collect water and provide habitat for several rare species of plants on the outcrops and domes of bedrock.

Wait, there is more.

Yes, as tributary streams flowed toward and then down into the valley of the River Warren, waterfalls were created.

As creek water came into the valley, it also eventually found its way to the bedrocks. There is where the waterfalls were formed.

There are a few folks who appreciate these waterfalls. One is Bob Douglas, retired professor from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He was an instructor in geography there, but his sideline was study of waterfalls and their history.

Douglas became very interested in the Minnesota River and fell in love with the waterfalls in the Minnesota River Valley and its tributaries.

A “lunch-and-learn” event was held July 18 at the meeting room above the River Valley Arms and Ammo store in Morton. Ken Speake, KARE 11 News, retired, was the emcee for the meeting held before lunch. He introduced Bob Douglas to the assembled River-lovers gathered there.

Douglas shared photos and historical information about some of the waterfalls in the Minnesota Watershed. His enthusiasm was very evident for what he had found.

Following the event at River Valley Arms, many of the participants moved over to Beaver Falls Park to view the falls there. This is one of the Renville County Parks. After spending time here, the participants shared their thoughts about waterfalls and the beauty of the Valley of the Minnesota River.

Douglas explained that many waterfalls provided campsites for Native Americans, early explorers, and fur rendezvous were held at some of the larger ones.

This event was sponsored by the Minnesota Valley History Learning Center and Friends of the Minnesota Valley, and some of their volunteer supporters. Their next event is to study the Morton Rock Outcrops Scientific and Natural Area behind the old Morton School. This will be on September 12, 2015. 

If you are interested, contact me. I can e-mail you a brochure about the three events sponsored by this group, or you can click here to go directly to their website!


August 4th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, outdoor enthusiast —  printed with permission from the Renville County Register

Some days I just want to run outside and remind a dog walker about the poor dog’s feet on a hot day. The paved roads can become so hot that the dog gets his paws burned. How fun is that? Sometimes you could fry an egg on a hot pavement.

But, walking your dog is good exercise for the owner and the dog. Just pick a proper time when the roads are cooler—morning or evening.

Another alternative to walking the streets with Fido is to go to one of your town’s parks and let the dog walk the grass. That would feel pretty good compared to hot asphalt. We see quite a few folks walk their dogs at Pond Park in Olivia. A mowed grass path is there, surrounding the whole pond area so you can get in a pretty good walk with the dog there. And, if the weather is hot, a tossed retrieving dummy might wet the dog enough to complete his walk without too much suffering. Swimming really helps to get Fido in shape for fall hunting.

It doesn’t matter if Fido stays on the grass or a paved trail, it is your responsibility to pick up the “dog pile” if it shows up. No one should have to discover your dog’s DooDoo on his or her shoes. No home owner should have to pick up after an irresponsible dog owner failed to do his/her duty.

All dog owners who walk their dogs are not only getting the dog in shape, but are doing a lot to get in good physical condition themselves. But, anyone contemplating a fall hunt should look ahead in preparation for it. Getting in shape now helps a lot to make your hunt more fun. We need to add stretching and strength exercises from now to fall to make sure your strength is there when you need to carry a heavy shotgun through rough country in search of pheasants.

Lifting dumbbells of reasonable weight helps the upper body to get in shape for the hunt. Maybe, if you aren’t at all in good shape, start with light weights like eight or 10 pounds. Move up to 12 or 15 as your strength increases. The same can be said for walking yourself or the dog. Start short, like only a few blocks or a quarter mile or so. Then as things improve, add distance.

Getting ready for fall activities requires some shooting practice also. Those who have a membership in the Renville Rangers Shooting Club (RRSC) have an excellent place to go for practice and for sighting-in a rifle or handgun. The RRSC is located almost a mile and a half north of the stoplights in Bird Island on County Road Five.

The RRSC has covered shooting areas and ranges from 50 feet to 25 yards, to 50 yards and also longer ranges of 100 yards, 150 and 200 yards. If your interests lie in the shotgun sports, the RRSC has both trap and skeet ranges for you to practice getting the gun onto the birds you will see in the field next fall.

There really is no excuse to not get ready for fall activities right now. Start walking, calisthenics, strength training, and practice with your firearm of choice.

If you aren’t a member yet, contact Del Whitman or Jon Wogen in Olivia. They can sign you up with the $30 family membership.


As often happens, the hunters find they are so busy with fishing and other activities and chores that they don’t get out to practice and sight in their firearms until Fall. Often in the Fall the weather goes sour on you when you want to really get that rifle sighted in for a long range shot. Wind, rain, and cold can interfere with your shooting quite a bit. Once sighted in, the cold windy weather might force you to learn to shoot in that nasty weather which you will run into during hunting season.

Yes, there can be bugs to “bug you” during the summer. That is what bug repellent helps with. A nice breeze helps this a lot. Shooting real early or late in the day also mean you may run into more mosquitoes. Mid day is deer fly time. Wear a hat.

Remember now that we told you there are covered ranges at the RRSC. That will stop the hot sun quite a bit and also allows you to shoot if the weather is sprinkly and you want to keep your firearm dry.

All hunters owe it to the game they intend to hunt to be a good shot. We want to make a quick and clean kill of the animal. That is common courtesy and respect for the animal that will provide you with a fine meal.


Getting out and scouting your hunting area will give you an idea of how the reproduction of your prey species went this spring and summer. The waterfowl will be able to fly in a couple of weeks or more and then they will be easier to spot too. Flightless waterfowl tend to hide along banks and in weeds until they can fly again. While scouting, enjoy the native wild flowers and other plants that will still be blooming until well after Labor Day. You may locate new deer trails and new bunches of ducks for your season upcoming.


Today Sven says, “Be someone that makes you happy.”


July 21st, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member and printed with permission by the Renville County Register

Continuing our study of a “Free Range Kid”, our kids are still out and about with their “survival gear” and common sense which was derived from prior training and experience in the boondocks.

On one adventure, the group of friends spotted a skunk wandering across a stretch of prairie. They took their BB guns and decided to send the skunk a message that he should be holed up during this time of the day.

On sending a couple of BBs at the black and white “kitty”, the skunk stopped and gave the guys a nasty stare. Then it continued on its way, seemingly undeterred by those kids that were harassing it. So, the guys let fly a few more BBs at the critter. They got a bit too close to the skunk as it was now pretty agitated. Apparently the range of spray by a skunk was underestimated and Bill got some of the vile, oily liquid on his pants leg.

Bill wondered if he should cut the pants leg off at the knee to be able to get de-scented. He whipped out his Boy Scout knife and cut it off with deft and careful strokes of the knife. The tube of denim was left hanging on a tree when the deed was done.

Bill didn’t smell real good but was somewhat tolerable. He scooped up a handful of catnip and rubbed it all over his exposed leg, socks and shoes. That really helped to suppress the odor remaining on his leg. Yes, mint does sometimes help with skunk scent, but made for an interesting scent combo.

The home-made willow fishing poles the boys carried with them on their bikes was really nice to have along. The boys dug worms and grubs from the damp soil near the creek and drifted them through the deeper holes that contained some fish. They caught creek chubs, suckers, and an occasional carp. That provided much fun for the boys. A willow pole, properly cured and stripped of its bark made a formidable fishing weapon that could handle pretty big fish.

At times they saw snapping turtles, leatherback turtles or painted turtles on the bank or in the creek. They enjoyed their company but remained cautious with the leatherbacks and snappers. The painted turtles were fun to play with for a while. Muskrats and mink occasionally visited the small group of explorers. They seemed to not be very friendly though.

Once in a while another group of kids doing the same thing was out in the wild country known as the “Hog’s Back”. The guys would sneak up on them and try to surprise or scare them, but were usually spotted before they could spook the other group of kids.

Digging a tunnel into a hill made of glacial gravel and soil was not a good idea, but the guys had to learn by themselves. Phil was inside the tunnel scooping out the soil and sand when the “cave” collapsed on him. Only his feet stuck out from the pile of sand and soil. All the guys pulled hard and dragged Phil out from the mound. It took a whole canteen of water to flush his eyes of sand and soil so he could enjoy the rest of the day.

Yes, lessons in life are often learned “the hard way”, by experiencing things themselves. Never again would this group of adventurers dig a tunnel into a glacial moraine with gravel in it.

The same can be said for poison ivy. If kids are having fun, who looks at all the weeds? A good scrubbing with creek water and soap helped that problem to be tolerable also. The Scout training and summer camps educated these guys to be independent.

Being upper elementary age, these boys carried knives, hatchet, BB guns, fire-making gear and first aid stuff. They could even pull a fish hook out of a fellow explorer’s finger when they had to. No emergency room visits for these guys. Having Boy and Cub Scout backgrounds made these friends much better prepared to deal with problems in the wild.

Having common sense came easily and when it failed them, lessons were learned. They survived all injuries. They had no cell phones to call Mom to come and help. They learned and carried on without supervision. Independence became their way of life.

And, these guys were trusted by their parents to be somewhat careful and think things through before they did something stupid. They were told to respect private property and to not leave any trace of their having been exploring that particular area.
A “Free-Range Kid” is a self-taught outdoors enthusiast. Observing nature up close and personal allowed these kids to appreciate and be able to identify wild creatures. To know them is to appreciate and want to protect them. They became interested in conservation, hunting and fishing. They liked to experience camping and the night sky as they were out camping in wild places without light pollution. That allowed appreciation of stars and planets, along with northern lights once in a while.

Next week we will present Part Four of Free Range Kids.


Today, Sven quotes Billy Graham: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”