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Star Tribune

Get in on the Christmas Bird Count across Minnesota

The Christmas Bird Count is underway, that annual bird census that lures experienced birders and newcomers afield across the United States, Canada and parts of Latin America.

The count, which began on Christmas Day in 1900, is the longest-running bird count in the world. Minnesota’s participation started in 1905, according to The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. Minneapolis and Red Wing were the first locations. The count in Minnesota involves as many as 70 census circles. Two counts were scheduled for Thursday (Glacial Ridge and Lac qui Parle), and two more (Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge and Cottonwood) are scheduled Friday.

The Christmas Bird Count happens in earnest beginning Saturday across Minnesota (go to moumn.org/CBC for locations and past count data), and goes on in various locations until Jan. 5.

People interested in participating can choose a count to join by location, too, or by date. Each of the counts has a coordinator, whose contact information is listed.

Fatbikers get access to North Shore ski trail on trial run

The Norpine Trail Association board is allowing fatbikers to use 16 miles in the trail system between Cascade Lodge and Lutsen Mountains — known as the Cascade Connector trail — on a trial basis this ski season.

In a nod to fatbiking’s increased popularity in the region, fatbikers are OK to use the skate-ski lane when trail conditions are solid — meaning enough snow and seasonable temperatures that protect the trail from damage.

The Norpine Trail Association, which gets money from resorts and businesses in the region, maintains 57 kilometers of trails. “Allowing fat tire bikes on the trail will provide another opportunity for their guests to experience the outdoors,” said the board in its newsletter. A ski pass is required for people 16 and older to use the trails. The expectation is that fatbike riders will buy the required state pass from the Department of Natural Resources.

Passes are available at Cascade River State Park, Cascade Lodge and Solbakken Resort.

Last year, the Norpine Fat Bike Classic race was allowed on the trail. The race is back Jan. 6 in Lutsen.