November 13, 2019

Ranger Gordon is Retiring

I'll be retiring at the end of November, 2019 and so the administration duties of this project will be transferred to Ranger Sharon.

I've so appreciated all the people who have contributed to the project. We are at about 1,000 species and nearly 5,000 spotting reports. You have broadened our understanding of the life that calls the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area home. We have, through your efforts, discovered species that were not on our species list and added to our knowledge of insects (which never have been included in our species list). This is an excellent example of citizen science and how it helps make our world a better place.

Thanks again for all your assistance. Keep up the good work.

Ranger Gordon

Posted on November 13, 2019 16:30 by gordon_dietzman gordon_dietzman | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 20, 2019

Welcoming Spring -- City Nature Challenge 2019

Spring is in the air, although winter is hanging on by its fingertips not wanting to leave at the time of this writing. Still, temperatures in the 50s in the next couple of weeks should hurry things along. Red-winged blackbird males are showing up in the Twin Cities area to set up their territories and skunk cabbage is blooming along Minnehaha Creek and other marshy places. It won't be long before spring really takes hold and lots of things will start popping into their spring rituals.

Spring also brings thoughts of wandering the woods, wetlands, and shorelines of the mighty Mississippi and finding that new life to document in iNaturalist. It also brings the City Nature Challenge in which cities around the world compete to find the greatest diversity of life in their area. You can learn more about the City Nature Challenge at

Want to participate? There will be a number of different events around the Twin Cities, including the one sponsored by the National Park Service at the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area's Coldwater Spring. Coldwater Spring is the site of the oldest U.S. settlement in Minnesota and the location that soldiers encamped while building Historic Fort Snelling. Learn more about the site at

Participants should arrive with a cell phone loaded with the iNaturalist app and an iNaturalist account, both of which are free. (The app is available from your store.) This combination works well for plants, tracks, and other signs of wildlife. Don't know how to use the app? We'll show you at the start of the program.

One can also upload photos through the website so having a regular digital camera with a macro or telephoto lens also works well, especially for insects and birds respectively. Using this combination, participants can upload their photos through the website and place a pin on a map to document their sightings. These programs are a great way to meet like-minded people, welcome spring, and just have some fun exploring either novel or familiar places.

Our event will be held on April 27 starting at 1:00 p.m. and will go as long as people hang around. Come for an hour, or come for the afternoon. Coldwater Spring's address is 5601 Minnehaha Park Dr S, St Paul, MN 55111 (GPS: 44.901602, -93.198256). Everyone is welcome, including families. We may even find some time for a short hike around the property and talk about its fascinating history.

Questions? Call Ranger Gordon at 651-293-8410. Leave a message and I'll get back to you.

Posted on March 20, 2019 14:56 by gordon_dietzman gordon_dietzman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2018

Coldwater Spring City Nature Challenge Event

Just wanted to remind everyone that we have a City Nature Challenge event planned for tomorrow (April 29, 2018) at Coldwater Spring near Minnehaha Falls Regional Park. The address is 5601 Minnehaha Drive South, Fort Snelling, MN 55111. The event begins at 2:00 pm and finishes at 5:00 pm. Come for all or part of the event.

Please arrive with an iNaturalist account and app on your phone or tablet. Bring along regular camera gear if you don't have a smart phone or tablet as photos can be uploaded to the iNaturalist website from a desktop or laptop once you get home.

You can find a brief summary of Coldwater Spring's rich history at

Any questions, please give me a call on my office phone at 651-293-8410 and leave a message if I'm not there.

See my previous iNaturalist journal post for more information. It should be a fine day to be out and about....

Hope to see you there!

Ranger Gordon

Posted on April 28, 2018 16:16 by gordon_dietzman gordon_dietzman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 19, 2018

City Nature Challenge, 2018

Hi everyone,

Gordon Dietzman here, administrator of The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area project and National Park Ranger. We now have over 2100 observations and nearly 430 species in just a few short months of the project's existance. That's pretty good in my mind and thanks to all of you who are members and have contributed your observations to the project. I appreciate it so much!

Have you heard of the City Nature Challenge 2018? Using iNaturalist cities are going to "compete" in finding observations over the course of several days later this month. I'm kind of ambivalent about the competition part of it (being that we are just leaving our cold season and competing with cities that are warm year-round--well, maybe we can beat Duluth...grin), but I am enthusiastic about getting out and going for a hike with camera and cell phone in hand to document the life along the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities area. And it would be great to either see you again or to meet you for the first time.

As a result, I'm putting together a public program at our Coldwater Spring unit (5601 Minnehaha Drive South, Minneapolis, MN 55111), near Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis for April 29, 2018 from 2:00-5:00 pm. We will start with a short hike to aquaint participants with the area and its rich natural and cultural history (and to stretch those couch-weary, winter legs). Then we will spread out along Coldwater's trails to find observations and post them to the "City Nature Challenge 2018" and "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" project.

This program is open to the public with instructions that they should arrive with their cameras and/or the app on their phone and an iNaturalist Acount. If you could lend your expertise to help the uninitiated, that would be fantastic, but isn't required. I see this as a pretty informal program and for fun, to get outside, to help others better understand our world, exhale indoor air and suck in outdoor air, and to kick off another iNaturalist season along the Mississippi River.

Free parking is available at Coldwater for about 10-12 cars. Additional parking (fee-based) is available on the access road.

Learn more about the City Nature Challenge at and local efforts at .

Questions? Comments? Let me know. You can contact me here or through my work e-mail at

Posted on April 19, 2018 16:57 by gordon_dietzman gordon_dietzman | 0 comments | Leave a comment