ERSKINE, Minn. – A Candlelight Ski and “Owl Prowl” event is set for 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday Feb. 27, at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge near Erskine.

The Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges Association will host the event, which coincides with a nearly full moon – and hopefully good snow conditions, clear skies and moderate temperatures.

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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. Luminaries will be distributed along the three trails, but visitors are encouraged to bring a headlamp if they have one.

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Two owl-calling stations will be set up along the trails, where the calls of several owl species – such as saw whet, barred and great horned – will be projected into the woods to try and generate a response.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be several changes to the event from past years. The Refuge Visitor Center will not be open to the public, so the only warm-up opportunity, if needed, will be personal vehicles. The outdoor restroom will be available. Participants should bring their own snacks, coffee or hot chocolate, as organizers will not be able to provide any food or beverages this year. Also, the refuge will be unable to provide ski equipment or snowshoes for check-out.

Skis can be rented from the University of Minnesota-Crookston, (218) 281-8520 or (218) 281-8586; or at no cost from the Crookston Parks and Recreation at (218) 281-1232.

In addition to dressing appropriately for the forecasted weather, participants should 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 participants will need to wear a mask.

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If temperatures are below zero or wind chills are in the double-digits below zero, the event will be canceled and potentially rescheduled for a later date.

For more information, contact Gregg Knutsen, refuge manager, at (218) 686-4329 or gregg_knutsen@fws.gov.