Announcing the First Sunfish Lake Park Photo Contest

sponsored by the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center!

Here is the first entry (click Picture Gallery tab for better image):


Hiking in the time of COVID-19 lo res

“Hiking in the Time of COVID-19” Sue Steinwall, all rights reserved

You are invited to submit your favorite pictures taken in Sunfish Lake Park to to enter the contest. Please limit image submissions to two per entrant. Contest rules, entry deadline, judging system, and prizes will be announced later. Contestants give the nature center permission to use their images to benefit our non-profit, such as for publicity, or creating a calendar, puzzle, etc for fundraising purposes.

Update April 3rd 2020 

In Compliance with Minnesota Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-20, the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center  is closed to the public until we get further notice.  

The City of Lake Elmo has posted guidance about trail usage based on the Executive Orders, as shown in this sign, please maintain social distance and keep pets on a leash:

trail social distance

The Park entry road is clear and the snow is clear from most of the Park trails, but they are muddy and slippery in places. Please email us at if you have a question about the nature center. The building phone is 651-408-2838 but no one is there to answer.

A White-Breasted Nuthatch has come to roost at the Big Birdhouse, so we have named it our “bird of the month”.


(see calendar page and event page for details)

Buckthorn Removal Day – second Saturday of the month, April 11th, has been postponed until May 9th from 9 AM to Noon

Come and help remove this invasive plant from the Park. We have the loppers, gloves, and herbicide applicators, or you may bring your own. Please contact George at 651-757-5610 if you have questions.


Spring for Nature Annual Fundraiser – Wednesday May 20th

Speaker: author William Kent Krueger

Lake Elmo Inn Event Center, 6 PM

.To buy tickets, click on Fundraising Dinner tab above

UPDATE April 3rd ….Spring for Nature fundraiser scheduled for May 20th – We are in a holding pattern as we wait to see how the coronavirus pandemic crisis unfolds. We may be forced to reschedule our fundraiser until we can safely be together. A decision will be made by April 10th, and posted here. In the meantime it is a perfect time to buy, download or borrow one or more of Wm Kent Krueger’s books so you can get acquainted with them, and see for yourself why so many are excited about his being our speaker.

There is no admission charge to Sunfish Lake Park, which is open dawn to dusk. The automatic gate has been programmed to close at 9 PM.  John, one of our Board members walked the trails this past Fall, removing the “eye-pokers” and “head bangers” to make hiking more pleasant.  Thanks John!  But Winter snows and winds have brought down some trees and branches. Watch your step…  The City has added signs to indicate the direction of travel on the entry/exit roads.  Please drive slowly and carefully – deer abound along the roads.

Admission to the nature center is also free.  For current Nature center opening hours – check “Hours and Location” page for details – as soon as we can ope to the public we will let you know here.

Committee System formed

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park, the non-profit corporation that runs the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center, have been frankly surprised by the growth in activities at the nature center. It has truly become a place of Peace and Respect where people of the community can teach or learn about nature. There are more opportunities for participation than the current group can handle! We have established a Committee system for people who wish to work together to participate in the activities of the nature center including program development, science projects, building and grounds enhancements, outreach, and so forth.  Please click on the “Volunteer or Intern” tab above for more detail shown on that page, with contact names for the various Committees. There is no obligation – you may come and attend a Committee meeting just to see what is going on.

To see the illustrated report of the 2019 Birdhouse Nesting Survey, click on this link:  SMINC Birdhouse survey 11-29-19 w pics    For further information on the birdhouse project, click on the Exhibits, Trail Guides and Science Projects tab above.

Regular Buckthorn Removal day is second Saturday of the month, 10 AM to 12 Noon, bring your loppers and gloves, or use ours!  Buckthorn is about the only plant left with green leaves in November, it is easy to spot. We are making progress against this invasive plant that has been colonizing Sunfish Lake Park for over 35 years (by tree ring count).  Please contact George at 651-757-5610 for any questions or details.

To see our latest Brochure, click on this link, please feel free to print and distribute it:

BrochureFall2019 v2finL

Times of events and programs are shown on the Calendar (click on tab above).  For a more complete description of each event, and sign-up instructions, go to the “Event and Program Descriptions” tab.


We have officially “Adopted” Sunfish Lake Park in the Lake Elmo Adopt-a-Park Program. 


For volunteer opportunities, go to the Volunteer or Intern page.

The Friends of Lake Elmo’s Sunfish Lake Park rely on donations to operate the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center as a community resource within our Mission.  Please click on the “How to Donate” page and help us if you can.


The Friends have chosen the Blandings Turtle Emydoidea blandingii as our mascot. Here is a how we see Emy as a quirky creature ready to tell you about the activities in our Park

Emy WP with Emy in right font