DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Greater Sucker Creek, a 117-acre nature preserve owned and maintained by the city of Detroit Lakes as part of its municipal park system, has long been a favorite destination for area nature lovers.

Recently, however, hikers along Upstream Sucker Creek's main, paved pathway may have noticed a new sign that was installed, extolling "A Treasure Trove of Gifts to All from Greater Sucker Creek."

Sponsored by Kay N. Larson, the sign is a companion to one that was installed in memory of her husband, C. Leroy Larson, a few years ago. That sign, titled "Life on the Edge," was added after her husband's passing in 2012.

This sign, "Life on the Edge," was donated to Upstream Sucker Creek by the C. Leroy Larson family after the local nature lover's passing in 2012. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
This sign, "Life on the Edge," was donated to Upstream Sucker Creek by the C. Leroy Larson family after the local nature lover's passing in 2012. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"My husband was a big time nature lover," Larson explained during a recent visit to Greater Sucker Creek, when she and her children, Brooks Larson and Alexa Larson-Thorisch, came to look at the new sign for the first time.

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"He was a big bird watcher, and he could also name all the different kinds of trees," added Brooks Larson.

Greater Sucker Creek founder Sally Hausken, who was also present for the sign unveiling, said that the intent behind it is to call attention to the need for biodiversity, clean water and carbon sequestration in combating the harmful effects of climate change.

One section, titled "Gifts to planet Earth," states that for its size, Greater Sucker Creek is, arguably, "one of the most foresightedly landscaped parks in the United States," with all three of the above-mentioned preventive measures employed within its borders.

A closer look at the 3x4-foot sign recently added to the main pathway at Upstream Sucker Creek in Detroit Lakes. The sign, created by Brushmarks, was donated by local resident Kay N. Larson as a companion piece to a sign that was installed there in memory of her husband, C. Leroy Larson, after his passing in 2012. (Submitted photo)
A closer look at the 3x4-foot sign recently added to the main pathway at Upstream Sucker Creek in Detroit Lakes. The sign, created by Brushmarks, was donated by local resident Kay N. Larson as a companion piece to a sign that was installed there in memory of her husband, C. Leroy Larson, after his passing in 2012. (Submitted photo)

Just 117 acres in size — encompassing both the original Sucker Creek Preserve and Upstream Sucker Creek — the preserve offers many gifts, including health, exercise, recreation, peace, spirituality and education.

Other parts of the sign point to the need to "adopt a new normal" in order to address climate change, and one portion, contributed by Donna Dustin, asks the question, "Can one person make a difference?"

In it, Dustin talks about how Hausken "took action" when a large chunk of land along Sucker Creek was slated for development.

"Sally brought together a variety of entities, including the city of Detroit Lakes, DNR, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Trust for Public Land, and the landowner, to apply for, and receive a DNR Natural and Scenic Area grant," Dustin wrote. "This grant paid for half of the cost of buying the 61 acre parcel of land (for the original Sucker Creek Preserve). She then spearheaded a fundraising effort to amass the other $92,000 needed to buy the land.

This map shows the layout of Greater Sucker Creek, a 117-acre nature preserve owned and maintained by the City of Detroit Lakes. The preserve encompasses the original, 61-acre Sucker Creek Preserve as well as the adjacent Upstream Sucker Creek. (Image courtesy of the City of Detroit Lakes)
This map shows the layout of Greater Sucker Creek, a 117-acre nature preserve owned and maintained by the City of Detroit Lakes. The preserve encompasses the original, 61-acre Sucker Creek Preserve as well as the adjacent Upstream Sucker Creek. (Image courtesy of the City of Detroit Lakes)

"Rather than relaxing once the park was acquired, Sally has remained active in shaping the park. In 2004 she applied for a DNR Recreation Grant on behalf of the city, and received $60,000 in matching funds toward the Preserve's restoration She also added a 3 acre lot across Sucker Creek to the Park. She did not do all this alone, but thanks to Sally's skill at banging others together and keeping them working toward a common goal, Sucker Creek Preserve will always be a place for young and old to appreciate and learn."

And Hausken isn't done yet. The longtime local resident says Greater Sucker Creek is seeking a state grant to restore 5.6 acres of the park to its original prairie.

Even if they ultimately don't get the grant, Hausken said, "We'll find a way to do it."