What Makes a Park

What makes a park? Trees and shrubs, grasses and flowers, water and sky. Perhaps a park’s most essential element is its people. On Saturday, Coldwater Spring’s people came.

By bike and shuttle bus, alone and in big groups, people streamed into the park for National Public Lands Day.The numbers are impressive: 168 volunteers planted 100 trees, 350 shrubs and 1,100 native prairie plants. But numbers can’t tell the true story.
National Public Lands Day is about people – people willing to pick up shovels, haul mulch, and get their gloves dirty.

Volunteers smiled as they stood knee deep in mud to plant grasses in a new wetland at the south end of the park.  A young U of M student showed up who had just recently arrived to Minnesota from his home in Malaysia. Volunteers who had never been to Coldwater came after hearing about the park from REI, a true steward of the park who provided snacks and sporty shirts for all. Every volunteer who came has a story. And all those stories become part of the park.

One family’s story runs deep within Coldwater. Four generations of Gospeters came on Saturday, from matriarch Mary to the toddlers who brought their plastic pails and shovels, twenty adults and eleven kids.

They came to plant a grove of trees they donated in honor of Bob Gospeter, who died in February at age 91. Bob worked for the Bureau of Mines for decades. He and Mary and their two daughters lived at Coldwater in old red brick engineer’s house from 1949 to 1951. Bob oversaw moving an Iron Range building to Coldwater where it served as the Bureau’s library.Today, in place of the library sits a wetland surrounded by an oak grove. Bob’s family planted more trees and shrubs around that wetland, strengthening their roots to this place. Bob’s daughter, Mary, says she’ll keep coming back to Coldwater to water the trees.

National Park Service staff and volunteers, including the Coldwater Crew, will continue to water and nurture the new plantings and restore the park. Dedicated Coldwater Crew volunteers come twice a week through spring, summer, and into fall. Tomorrow will be the final session for the Tuesday evening crew—it gets too dark from the night crew to meet. But the Thursday morning volunteer crew will keep coming to the park, working 9 to noon, until they decide it’s too cold. If you want to join the crew, contact Anna at awaugh@missriverfund.org

Whether you volunteer every week like the crew or once a year for
NPLD, you are one of the people of the park. We hope you’ll keep coming back, to visit your trees and shrubs and grasses. Stop by to soak in fall colors, and spy a butterfly. Come back to Coldwater in every season, to walk and play. What makes a park? People make a park.