Field Workshops - NAC22

*All programming subject to change.  Please refresh the page for the most up-to-date information.  Check in frequently for updates. 

field workshops

The Natural Areas Conference is hosted in a different part of North America each year to showcase the outstanding and diverse natural areas throughout the land. Field workshops are your opportunity to experience first-hand a small piece of what the upper Midwest has to offer.

Pre-registration for field workshops is required. We must have a minimum number of registrations for a workshop to be confirmed.

Field workshops with fewer than the minimum number of registrations will be canceled.

A Natural Areas Conference would not be complete without getting out of the conference center and on to the land. It is time to learn by doing, experience new terrain, and build relationships that can last a lifetime.

Past Natural Areas Conference Field Workshops

browse nac22 field workshops

All Field Workshops include lunch and  transporation on chartered buses to and from the Holiday Inn, Duluth.


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Biodiversity After Dark: moths & bats

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Cost: $50

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop takes place on Tuesday evening.

Field workshop will highlight techniques used to survey moths and bats, two ecologically important groups of nocturnal animals. Habitats include Great Lakes beach/dunes, and dry pine forest - very rare habitat in Minnesota with unique flora and fauna.

Locations visited: Minnesota Point Pine Forest SNA

Physical difficulty: Moderate

Physical activities: TBD; main event will include a less than 0.2 mile walk along sand beach.

What to being: A headlamp or flashlight. Lights and sheets will be provided. 


thursday, september 8, 2022

Protecting Duluth's Natural Areas and Important Public Spaces

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $75

About a quarter of the City of Duluth is open space with various states of quality found in native plant communities. City staff will take you to three sites and discuss land preservation, restoration, and the need for ongoing stewardship, as well as how partnership efforts help make this possible. The Magney Snively forest is of highest quality and is designated as a natural area in Duluth. Here we will discuss Duluth's planning and policies to protect and preserve open space. We will move next to the St. Louis River Estuary, another recently designated natural area and discuss restoration work from the estuary to the riparian zones. Finally, we will go to Hartley Nature Center, a recently designated natural area where work is being done to nurture low-quality native plant communities and preserve the high-quality areas through Hartley's native plant community plan.

Locations visited: Magney Snively forest, Grassy Point, Hartley Nature Center. 

Physical difficulty: Moderate 

Physical activities: Walking on trails up to two miles but space out with a one mile at site one and three.

What to bring: Snack and water bottle

St. Louis River Area of Concern: restoration to revitalization boat tour

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $150

At 12,000 acres, the St. Louis River Estuary is the largest freshwater estuary in North America and is the headwaters of the Great Lakes. Estuaries support unique, productive, shallow water habitats. Over the past 100 years, a legacy of historic commercial uses of the estuary disrupted and altered these natural habitats as shorelines and near shore areas were dredged and developed. Because of this, the St. Louis River Estuary was designated an international 'Area of Concern' and a partnership of federal, state and tribal agencies is working together to restore the estuary. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is leading habitat restoration projects in the estuary. During this workshop, you will take a boar tour of the St. Louis Estuary to see a variety of restoration projects and learn about how the DNR and City of Duluth partner to combine habitat restoration with opportunities for community revitalization.

Locations visited: Interstate Island, Grassy Point, Kingsbury Bay, Radio Tower Bay, Wild Rice bays, Chambers Grove.

Physical difficulty: Light

Physical activities: Participants will need to be able to walk on a dock and on/off of a boat, and walk 0.25 mi. 

What to bring: Snack and water bottle. Boats and life vests will be provided. 


North Shore Ecological Inventory

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $75

This trip is modeled on a day of field work in the Minnesota Biological Survey's statewide inventory of natural features. Participants will explore the ecology of the North Shore of Lake Superior, including ice-scoured bedrock lakeshore, high gradient streams, cliff faces, and highland old growth forest. Leaders will discuss the MBS inventory of rare species and quality habitats, and explain how this information is made available for conservation planning.

Locations visited: Two Harbors Lighthouse, Tettegouche State Park, Crosby-Manitou State Park. 

Physical difficulty: Exceptional

Physical activities: Primary physical activity will be hiking a rugged trail for approximately 3 miles.

What to bring: Snack and water bottle

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Properties Tour: non-profit work in a multi-stakeholder region

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $85

This trip will explore the Sax-Zim Bog Important Bird Area through the lens of work done by the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog in the region. The Friends of Sax-Zim Bog is a 501(c)(3) was formed in 2010 in response to increased black spruce and tamarack logging and serves as a voice for the 147,000 acre+ area. This region is well known as a bird watching location, but has incredible biodiversity worth showcasing and protecting! Our trip will primarily explore bog habitats and what makes this region so special. We will learn about the organization, its mission and goals, and explore a few of the properties owned in the area by the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog

Locations visited:  Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center

Physical difficulty: Light

Physical Activities: Hiking - Boardwalks to uneven, squishy substrate, or roadsides; less than .5 mi for each visit. 

What to bring: Most hiking will be done on dry ground, though, mud boots or hiking shoes with water resistance might be useful! Note taking equipment, cameras, binoculars, and/or hand lens might be helpful, but not needed to enjoy this trip. Be sure to bring your water bottle.

Lake Superior's North Shore Geology

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $85

This is a multi-stop hiking tour of geological features found along the north shore of Lake Superior. You'll also take a scenic drive with stops along the north shore of Lake Superior to learn about the geology of this rugged coast. You'll hear about the volcanic origins in the striking rock formations here, how past glacial periods influenced the area, see how the largest of the Great Lakes continuously reworks the bedrock to form unique beaches, as well as enjoy beautiful waterfalls and time to soak in the scenery.

Locations visited: Flood Bay St Wayside, Gooseberry Falls State SP, Iona's Beach SNA, Tettegouche SP.

Physical difficulty: Light

Physical activities: Hiking stony beaches, rocky outcrops on both gravel and paved paths. Distances TBD.

What to bring: Snack and water bottle

Lake Superior Dunes - Ecology of Minnesota Point

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $75

Participants will travel by bus to enjoy an overlook of Minnesota Point followed by a hike along this Lake Superior bay mouth bar out to the Minnesota Point Pine Forest SNA. Along the way, participants will learn about coastal dune ecology, rare and common plant species, dune plant communities including old growth pine forest, and the ephemeral nature of natural resources on the Point. We will also discuss issues related to conservation of these natural features in an urban setting.

Minnesota Point is a unique area in MN. It is the only place in the state that supports coastal dune features and biodiversity specific to this type of habitat.  There are a number of rare species and rare plant communities that only occur on the Point in Minnesota, including old growth pine forest on stabilized sand dunes. This is also a natural area in an urban setting that has been and continues to be influenced by human development and recreation in addition to natural forces such as Lake Superior. Minnesota Point Pine Forest Scientific and Natural Area was designated to help protect the natural features of this exceptional place.  

Locations visited: Skyline Drive Overlook, MN Point Pine Forest SNA 

Physical difficulty: Moderate

Physical activities: Anticipate hiking approximately 3 miles on sandy trails and beach, trail conditions vary.

What to Bring: Snack and water bottle, and binoculars are suggested


St. Louis River Ravines Natural Areas Bike Tour

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cost: $150

Take this bike tour on paved and limestone trails to city and state natural areas, and a State Park. Firstly at Hemlock Ravine Scientific and Natural Area you‘ll see management tools in place to protect hemlock trees, at the extreme western edge of their U.S. range.  Next we‘ll bike to Magney-Snively Natural Area where city of Duluth staff will guide us through a tunnel and outcrops where we will stop to discuss rock outcrop and forest communities, as well as the site‘s recreational facilities. The final stop at Jay Cooke State Park will allow for scenic views of the rugged St. Louis River, and a walk and talk about the Park's old-growth forests, river environment, hemlock planting, and management.

Locations visited: Hemlock Ravine Scientific and Natural Area, Magney-Snively Natural Area, Jay Cooke State Park. 

Physical difficulty: Moderate 

Physical activities: Bike a 24 mile out-and-back ride. Most biking on paved bike trail with a gentle grade. Hilly section

What to bring: Snacks and a water bottle. Bikes will be provided.


*All programming subject to change.  Please refresh the page for the most up-to-date information.  Check in frequently for updates. 

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