The nature center is open – check “Hours and Location” page for details – 

October 1st 2019

Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center October 1st 2019

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. The Fall Color Show was good this year, but faded last week due to cold, windy weather. The first snow is expected for November 5th, about on schedule. The walking trails in the Park are pretty clear, with an occasional fallen tree. John had done some trail clearing, check out the map lower on this page. The steeper trails have some erosion, watch your step there.   The City has added signs to indicate the direction of travel on the entry/exit roads.  Please drive slowly and carefully.

Admission to the nature center is also free. Generally the nature center is open to the public Monday through Thursday 9 AM-4 PM, Fridays 9 AM to Noon, and 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10 AM-3 PM.  It is also open by appointment for groups. You may call the nature center at 651-408-2838 to reach the receptionist during open hours, or leave a voice mail at any time.


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 Fall 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.


The Annual Sunfish Lake Park Buckthorn Festival took place Saturday October 26th. About 40 volunteers in 5 teams competed to to remove buckthorn for a couple of hours and then all the workers got a free lunch of chili dogs roasted over buckthorn logs, and won prizes in a drawing. Everyone  heard an accordion concert, got a chance to play buckthorn games, saw Earle’s agate specimens, and had lots of fun!  Thanks to our sponsors Lake Elmo Bank, Hagberg’s Market, Gorman’s Restaurant, Lake Elmo Inn, Cub Foods, Aamodt’s Apple Farm, and to all our volunteers who worked to make this event a success and put a dent in the buckthorn population of Sunfish Lake Park.


Collected by team STS


Collected by team UMN

Julie Schroeder’s Art Workshop “Floating with Jellies” is filling up for November 7-8. Please see the Events page for details, to register contact Julie at 651-352-5695 or visit

Upcoming – Click Events page for details.

Lunch with Earle the Agate Man on November 9th and

NAPAC Harvest Festival on November 10th. 


The latest resident at the nature center’s Big Birdhouse is a Baltimore Oriole, who must be migrating back soon.  Stop over and  take your family picture with him while he is still here.



We have officially “Adopted” Sunfish Lake Park in the Lake Elmo Adopt-a-Park Program. John, one of our Board members, has recently walked the trails, removing the “eye-pokers” and “head bangers” to make hiking more pleasant. He also reports that part of the trail along the smaller pond is submerged due to the high water this year.  Thanks John!  The cleared trails are marked with a squiggly line on the accompanying trail map copy:


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.


Check out our Media page (click on the tab above) to see our videos – 

Emy and turtle pic crop jpeg 11-21-17

Here is a better look at Emy

Emy wink pentagon words 6-4-19