Kevin Nelson: Winter activities looking better after snow

Published 6:30 am Saturday, January 2, 2021

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Now that we’ve finally received a base of snow cover used for compaction on the base of the rinks, near-zero temps have materialized for several days and we’ve almost gotten substantial ground frost to hold ice above ground, the parks crew will begin their work toward making ice on the outdoor rinks.

If colder temperatures hold, work should progress, with flooding and natural freezing to allow for use of the outdoor rinks by the end of next week.

Watch for portable restrooms to be made available at both parks where outdoor rinks will be created -— Galloway and Kaufman parks, plus at Skinner’s Hill at Community Park — as conditions begin to permit for winter recreation activities at these sites.

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Indoor ice

The governor’s current executive order info allows for re-opening arenas for most activities starting Monday.

That will mean that practices and some -public activities can commence with restrictions regarding social distancing, requirement of mask-wearing, maximum attendance, etc. However, competitions for hockey and curling cannot start until Jan. 14.

Watch for the return of other Park and Rec activities in early January. Thank you for your patience!

Nature Center

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will re-open on Monday, Jan. 4. A new intern will begin duties at that time as well.

The City Archery Deer Hunt concluded on Thursday and a total of 44 deer had been harvested as that day. We’ll not count that as the final number just yet, as the last couple of days of December remained as of the writing of this column. Thank you to the public for being respectful of the hunters and for not running dogs off-leash in areas where the hunt is held. This aids in keeping deer traffic patterns normal and hunting efforts in managing the deer population within the city. 

Park trails remain popular for walking, given limited indoor opportunities as of late. Trails, which will regularly be cleared of snow include the following:

• Around Mill Pond (and the connecting arteries to Honor Guard Park,

• The trail from Mill Pond to Morning Lion’s Park;

• A segment along the south edge of Community Park.

These trails will be cleared regularly, but priority snow removal work for the department is public sidewalks and parking lots followed by clearing the above-listed trails.

When there is enough snow on the ground at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, grooming of cross-country skiing trails will commence. The Nature Center acquired quite an assortment of new skis and related equipment last winter, so the experience can be an enjoyable one, even for beginners.

Call ahead to confirm hours and availability of the trails and equipment.