Despite the shutdown of group programs in this summer of COVID-19, there are plenty of outdoor activities to pursue at a 600-acre nature area to the north of Rice lake.

Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary near Long Lake and east of Sarona has four more events scheduled this month, starting with Saturday’s first 90-Minute Nature series program.

Hunt Hill manager Nikki Janisin said that the COVID-19 shutdowns gave the nature center an opportunity to evaluate its programs. 

“We found new ways for people to enjoy Hunt Hill and enjoy it safely,” Janisin said. “We’ve worked with health departments on guidelines so we can have outdoor programs with as little risk as possible, practice social distancing and still enjoy the activities without worrying about what people can and can’t do.”

The 90-Minute Nature series is one of new programs that came out of this spring’s discussions. Participants sign up as a group of up to eight people.

“Safety was built right into this program. Your group can be up to eight people you are comfortable being with,” Janisin said.

The first 90-Minute Nature offering Saturday is entitled Survival. Program start times are at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Small groups will rotate through three themed stations after choosing their start time. Participants will have the opportunity to practice fire starting, build a stick shelter and learned about easily identified wild edibles and safe water collection.

Registration is required by this Thursday. Fee is $20 per group. To reserve a group slot, contact Hunt Hill at 715-635-6543 or program@hunthill.org.

The 90-Minute Nature series on Saturdays continues with Bouncing Bogs and Other Habitats on June 27; Frogs, Turtles and Water Bugs on July 11; Wildlife Detectives on Aug. 8; and Beavers, Bear and Canines on Aug. 15.

The June 27 program of Bouncing Bogs and Other Habitats will give participants the opportunity to explore the floating mat of a bog, see prairie flowers and learn how to identify some common trees in the forests at Hunt Hill.

Each group will receive supplies to make their own seed bombs.

Registration details are the same as previously mentioned for this Saturday’s Survival program.

Hunt Hill’s activities in June also include a summer solstice canoe outing on Sunday, June 21, starting at 7 p.m., on Hunt Hill property.

The canoe outings is open to all ages and abilities, and all supplies will be provided. The Hunt Hill waterfront is located at the bottom of 60 steps.

Advance registration is required by Friday, June 19. Cost is $8 per person or $20 per family. As always, Hunt Hill members received a discount.

To register, call 715-635-6543 or email program@hunthill.org.

On Sunday, June 28, the nature center will offer a program Best Kept Secrets of Hunt Hill from 1-3 p.m. Hidden areas of the sanctuary will be explored.

Cost is $5 per person, with no fee for Hunt Hill members. Registration is required by Friday, June 26.

In addition to the month’s outdoor offerings, Hunt Hill’s 13 miles of trails are always open for use free of charge on the property’s 600 acres.

The trail system includes the Discovery Trail which has activities for families as items are hidden along the trail for children and their parents to discover and win prizes if they post a photo online.

“We’ve had so many hikers enjoying the trails this spring. We see at least one family group here each day,” said Janisin.

The events that had to be cancelled this season at Hunt Hill include Cakes at the Lake breakfast and nature program; Birds & Beer social gatherings for June, July and August; Red Cross lifeguard training; youth day camps; adult Spanish camp; Hop for the Hill; Ladies Night Out, Hit for the Hill  golf scramble; and all indoor activities.



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