Big Stone Lake State Park

This is my first weekend Flog—so it’s a good thing I did something kind of interesting this weekend! After work on Friday I drove out of the storm and into the sunny and windy far western Minnesota evening. I camped for the weekend at Big Stone Lake State Park, right on the MN-SD border. The lake makes up part of the curve of that bump that sticks out of the central west edge of the state, and I could see South Dakota from my campsite.

It doesn’t beat the Boundary Waters but it was a nice change of pace for the weekend. I enjoyed spending time by myself, reading, running a little, and exploring the state park some. The park’s north unit, the “Bonanza area” (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, anyone?), has some prairie restorations on dry, gravelly hills, and some treed areas near the lake. Not to sound like late-1700s Quaker explorer and botanist William Bartram, but I saw about 40 leopard frogs on one beach and estimated a frog density of 10 per square meter at some parts in the woods! The best thing I saw in the woods there was a spring/groundwater seep with clear, cold water coming out and running in a little stream to the lake. The spring and streambeds were full of reddish buildup, indicating the presence of iron-oxidizing bacteria, just like I learned about in a paleobiology class a few years ago! Sadly, the clear spring water was too good for the green, nutrient-loaded Big Stone Lake. 

Some of the prairie-type areas I saw had lots of native grasses and plants, while others were more weedy, invaded by brome, woody plants, and some thistles—including one plant that towered over my head, yikes! I have always rolled my eyes at the Aldo Leopoldo quote about the ecologist seeing “a world of wounds,” thinking that I still appreciated invaded areas as preferable to concrete, but to my dismay this trip I found myself looking with a disappointed eye at the less healthy and diverse prairie sites I saw. This was probably bound to happen at some point the more time I spend in prairie ecosystems and thinking about their health and vigor, but I did not think I was going to become that person! I guess it’s a good reminder that opinions aren’t set in stone and to make space for yourself and others to learn and change! 

I did learn from a knowledgeable woman who worked for the park that the mass of aquatic plant matter by the swimming beach was made up of mostly native species, so that’s something anyway.

Iron spring––note the red buildup!
Nice evening at the campsite. I finished my book!

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