Candlelight Ski/Owl Prowl event to be held Feb. 27 at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge

Crookston Times

Candlelight Ski / Owl Prowl at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge

The evening of Saturday, February 27th the Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges Association will be hosting a Candlelight Ski and Owl Prowl event at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Erskine, MN. The timing of this event coincides with a nearly full moon, and hopefully good snow conditions, clear skies, and moderate temperatures. The event will run from 6:00pm to 9:30pm. Although all five of Rydell NWR’s trails will be open for cross country skiing or snowshoeing, Church Lake, Rice Lake, and Round Lake trails will be groomed and lighted for this event. Even though luminaries will be distributed along these three trails, we recommend that visitors bring along a headlamp, if they have one, just in case it’s cloudy and there is minimal moonlight. As visitors traverse the trails, two owl calling stations will be set up where the calls of several owl species (e.g., saw whet, barred, great horned) will be projected into the woods to try and generate a response. Who-who-who knows what you might hear!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be several changes to the event from past years. Unfortunately, the Refuge Visitor Center will not be open to the public, so the only warm-up opportunity, if needed, will be your vehicle. The outdoor restroom will be available. Feel free to bring your own snacks, coffee, or hot chocolate as we will not be able to provide any food or beverages this year. Also, no ski equipment or snowshoes will be provided for check-out at the Refuge this year. If you don’t have your own skis, you can rent them from the University of Minnesota-Crookston (218-281-8520 or 218-281-8586) or Crookston Parks and Recreation (no cost, 218-281-1232).

In addition to dressing appropriately for the forecasted weather, please bring a mask. Currently, masks are required of all visitors to national wildlife refuges, when social distancing is not possible. There may be some instances during this event, such as at the owl calling stations, where you will need to wear a mask. If you have questions, contact Gregg Knutsen at 218-686-4329 or If temperatures are below zero or wind chills are in the double-digits below zero, the event will be cancelled and potentially rescheduled at a later date.