Within the city limits of Eagan are about 200 lakes and wetlands an acre or larger, according to Eric Macbeth, the city's water resources manager.
The community will celebrate those resources at Eagan's LakeFest, a biannual event to be held Saturday on Schwanz Lake at Trapp Farm Park. According to Macbeth, the city started the biannual event in 2010 in order to educate people about water resources. At the event, where fishing license requirements are waived for the day, families can fish, make fish arts and crafts, and visit stations that focus on water resources.
"We've been promoting fishing in Eagan for a long time," Macbeth said.
The city holds youth fishing clinics from May to September, and its website provides extensive information about fishing, including a "neighborhood fishing guide," which highlights 14 popular fishing lakes.
During LakeFest, visitors can fish off the pier and the shores of Schwanz Lake, which Macbeth said is filled with bluegill, bullheads, largemouth bass, crappies and perch. Poles and bait will be made available, and the Department of Natural Resources staff and other volunteers will help with casting, baiting hooks, untangling knots and unhooking fish.
Among the 16 other stations at the event is one where kids will learn about the importance of something the size of a freckle.
"People don't always think about what fish rely on for their food source," said Autumn Hubbell, outdoor education coordinator at Dakota County Parks, who said volunteers will man a station that focuses on aquatic invertebrates. Kids can take a look at the tiny creatures with magnifying glasses. They will also learn about how insects can be used as a good indicator of aquatic health, Hubbell said.
Tom Dickhudt of Sunrise Native Plants, a local native plant nursery, said its station focuses on ways to improve water quality using native plants. Nursery staff will educate people about the importance of rain gardens and lakeshore restoration in keeping bodies of water healthy.
Native plants, he said, "tend to be tough plants." These days, more people are planting native plants such as the blue flag iris and native sedges, grasslike plants that grow in clumps, in wet areas in order to filter storm runoff.
"It's starting to catch on," he said. They are very useful."
At LakeFest, kids will also have a chance to do activities like creating sun-print art of underwater scenes or playing lawn games that focus on environmental themes. They can also see rescue boats up close and watch shows put on by the Eagan Puppet Wagon. There will also be resource booths with information about the Vermillion River Watershed and water science, an interactive stormwater runoff display, and information about city programs.
The trio Clearwater will provide music, and refreshments will be available for purchase.
Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.