Last year the flooding Souris River took a heavy toll on the Conservation and Skills Park located on the State Fairgrounds in Minot. Flooding not only forced cancellation of the 2011 State Fair, but it also inflicted a great deal of damage to the Conservation Park.
Fully renovated and expanded, a grand re-opening of the Conservation Park was held at the State Fairgrounds Thursday. Members of the State Fair staff, Minot Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and North Dakota Game & Fish Department participated in a late afternoon ribbon cutting at the new east entrance to the Conservation Park.
"We're excited to be back in action. We had a setback last year but I think we'll be better than ever," said Greg Link, North Dakota Game & Fish Department Conservation and Communications division chief, Bismarck.
Renovation of the park included removing silt, constructing a new perimeter fence, power washing buildings, adding an expanded fishing dock and a new information building. The flood damaged an area adjacent to and immediately east of the Conservation Park that previously contained a miniature golf course. That area is now part of the Conservation Park, allowing for more room and improved crowd flow.
"I must thank the fair for this opportunity after the flood," said Greg Gullickson, Game & Fish outreach biologist, Minot. "It was a challenge to convert this property from what it was to what it is, but the fair staff has been great. We've doubled the size of our area to stretch out and put up some more displays."
The Conservation Park has always been a popular attraction at the fair. It has numerous opportunities for youngsters to participate in shooting sports, fish in the pond or visit the various displays. It is also situated in a "park like" setting, providing somewhat of an oasis amidst a very busy fairgrounds.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN • A ribbon cutting was held late Thursday for the expanded Conservation and Skills Park at the State Fairgrounds in Minot. Members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors participated in the event.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN • Greg Gullickson, North Dakota Game & Fish Department outreach biologist, Minot, left, and Greg Link, Game & Fish Conservation and Communications division chief, Bismarck, say they are pleased with the expansion and renovation of the Conservation and Skills Park at the State Fairgrounds.
"We have nice shade and it looks like that's going to be a premium," said Link. "Our staff has really worked hard to get this thing up and running."
"It has been a long time coming," added Gullickson. "We've had excellent cooperation from all across the Game and Fish Department. Everybody realizes how great the exposure is here at the fair."
The Conservation and Skills Park is located in the northeast section of the fairgrounds. Fishing is free to visitors. Fish recently stocked in the pond includes perch, bluegill and rainbow trout.
Other activities at the park includes shooting air rifles or bows and arrows. One section of the park is devoted to fish identification through the use of both static displays and live fish in aquariums. Numerous Game & Fish personnel will be on hand throughout the fair to answer questions and assist visitors. A number of volunteers, many of whom are former wildlife professionals, will also help staff the expanded Conservation Park.