Deep Portage Blog

  • Deep Portage Learning Center

Finally, it has rained! It has been so dry, even our prairie plants have been complaining! Native prairie plants are drought tolerant (due to deep root networks) but have been showing signs of wilting and stress for the past two weeks. Deep Portage installed a native prairie on campus 20 years ago. It has gave way to its own micro-habitat amongst the tall pines and dense hardwood stands that surround campus.

Native prairies usually give off new blooms every other week of so, but July is always the most colorful month. Prairie flowers blooming in our prairie at the moment are: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, yarrow, hoary vervain, black-eye Susan, purple prairie clover, white prairie clover, boneset, and wild bergamot. Different late summer favorites like goldenrods and blazing stars are putting all their energy into flowering within the next few weeks. Come check out the prairie, its full of color and full of the wonderful aroma of wild bergamot!

July public day programming is underway as well. Check out the full schedule here: . If you have a bigger family/household group that would like a private session, give us a call at 218-682-2325 (ask for Lindsay or Neal) for more info!

  • Deep Portage Learning Center

High temps in the upper 80s (two days in the 90s!), loud thunderstorms, swarms of mosquitos, and pestering deer flies have kicked off the summer time buzz at Deep Portage. The forest is alive with young animals! White-tail deer fawns have been spotted around campus, an adult porcupine with its porcupette were taking a stroll down the driveway, and grouse and turkey broods are staying close behind their mothers. While these animals can be cute to look at, remember to give them space and respect. White-tail deer mothers will leave their fawns for hours at a time, while the fawn lays still in the grass. If you come across a lonely fawn, let it be! Its mother will be back shortly.

The prairie scape around campus has been taking shape with the increasing heat. New to bloom in the prairie this week is large beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus). Inside the flower are dark purple stripes that act as a runway for its pollinators; these are called nectar guides. We have also noticed at large amount of blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) blooming along many Cass county ponds and wetlands. Keep an eye out for more lake shore and prairie plants to bloom in the coming weeks.

On May 30th and June 6th, Deep Portage staff members and friends went on birding “Big Days.” A Big Day is an event where birders search for as many birds as they can find in one day. Each time, we spent a couple of hours at Deep Portage then took off into different parts of Cass county. The highlights for both trips were: roughly 95 species each day, 48 species at DP on June 6, a rare Ruddy Turnstone at Sugar Point beach on Leech Lake May 30th, and Semipalmated Plover and Semipalmated Sandpipers at Longville sewer ponds June 6th. You can check out the checklists on the DPLC eBird hotspot website:

The buildings remain closed due to COVID-19 but our trails are still open to use, so please come out for a hike and explore! We are starting to plan for summer public programming opportunities to stay tuned for those. The driveway gate will be closing at 4:30 pm each day. You can still walk the trails around campus after it is closed, but no parking beyond the gate after 430pm.

  • Deep Portage Learning Center

In the original Jurassic Park movie, Dr. Malcom said the infamous line “life, uh, finds a way.” So is the case for the spring of 2020! Deep Portage has seen only trace amounts of rain since the snow melted in early April. The 3.2 mile driveway has been very dusty, and the water levels in our vernal ponds are at late summer time levels. Even morel mushrooms have been a hard find!

Even with the lack of moisture our forest is green and lush with new spring plants! Spring wildflowers are in full swing. Flowers such as hepatica, wood anemone, violet, bellwort, and wild strawberry are easy finds along our trails. Our wildflower garden at the start of the tar trail has blooming trillium (also blooming along the driveway), bloodroot, and wild ginger.

Purple hepatica poking up through last year's dead leaves.

With the dry and warm weather we have noticed a quick migration of warbling bird species. Species that are common and numerous visitors around Bass Pond every spring like Blackpoll warbler, Cape May warbler, Canada warbler, and Magnolia warbler have been very rare to find. Most years during peak migration, a birder can spot a dozen or more species around Bass Pond but this year it has been hard to get above ten. As of May 23, Bass Pond did have a very healthy population of common yellowthroat, chestnut-sided warbler, American redstart, golden-winged warbler and a few more common warblers singing on territory. An uncommon northern parula was also sighted! Deep Portage Learning Center is a birding hotspot on eBird, check it out!

The buildings remain closed due to COVID-19 but our trails are still open to use, so please come out for a hike and explore! Bring the bug spray and long clothing because the ticks are out and the mosquitos have hatched!

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Tel: 218-682-2325


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2197 Nature Center Drive NW

Hackensack, MN 56452

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