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Friends of Itasca State Park receives grant for restoration project

The Friends of Itasca State Park have had two work sessions to cut wire for cages to protect trees in the park from deer browsing. Cutting wire in May were Charlie Hovde, at left, of Long Lost Lake and Candy Malm of Park Rapids. (Submitted photo)

Volunteer-led Friends of Itasca State Park has begun work on a project to construct and place tree cages at Itasca State Park, with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and funds issued by Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota.

About 800 cages will soon be assembled, and community groups are invited to place them in Itasca State Park.

These tree cages will be placed around young red pine, white pine and jack pine to keep deer from damaging the trees, allowing for quicker and healthier growth.

The Friends of Itasca State Park was one of five groups selected to receive $5,000 from Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota under a statewide grant program that seeks to restore habitat in state parks. This grant program was made possible by the Henry S. Crosby Foundation, which issued grant money to Parks & Trails Council to advance protection of state parks through land acquisition and habitat restoration projects.

Others awarded grants were Friends of Maplewood State Park, Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Friends of Wild River State Park and Frontenac State Park Association.

The Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota worked with the DNR to identify potential projects and overlap them with active Friends groups. These projects compliment long-term, natural resource management goals of the parks and fit into the wide variety of activities of Friends groups. Friends groups support state parks in various ways, from raising money and promotion to advocacy and programming.

The Friends of Itasca State Park invite groups to place the tree cages at designated sites in the park. Anyone interested in scheduling a work session may contact Tim Holzkamm at 218-573-3442 or John LaFond at 218-573-3709.

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