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Amateur photographers tell Chippewa River watershed's story

Stacy Salvevold slipped out of her back door and the comfort of her home on a sub-zero day to capture this image of a frozen sunrise over Lake Minnewaska. It is appropriately featured as the January 2010 image. Submitted photos

MONTEVIDEO -- Stacy Salvevold needed only to slip out her back door and the warmth of her home on a January morning to capture the sparkle of a hoar-frosted landscape as the sun started its climb over Lake Minnewaska.

Karen Falk had to wait for the right water conditions and mobilize friends and family members for a canoe and kayak trip down Mud Creek in Swift County's Camp Lake Township on a spring day to capture the wild and remote feel of this rarely visited waterway.

And Faith Anderson? She had to do what she always does: "I just can't pass up a good sunset,'' said Anderson.

She had just hopped into her car for the ride home to Glenwood after visiting her parents when the warm hues of a summer sunset over Strandness Lake north of Starbuck caught her eyes, and compelled her to pull out the camera she always carries.

The scenes captured by the amateur photographers are among the dozen showcased in the 2010 edition of the Chippewa River Watershed Project calendar.

Anderson's won best in show honors for 2010, and that's no small feat. The annual photography contest sponsored by the Chippewa River Watershed Project continues to attract an ever greater selection of photographs, said Jennifer Hoffman, watershed specialist with the Project.

This year's calendar contest brought out the best from 16 different amateur photographers. They entered 41 images for consideration.

The hardest part was being limited to no more than three submissions, according to Anne Schirmer of Clontarf. She said she was thrilled when she learned that one of her photos was selected.

Schirmer captured a view of the river close to her home. It's one of her favorite photos among many she has taken of the river and its surrounding landscape. Schirmer said she always keeps her camera at the ready as the Chippewa River watershed offers and endless procession of eye-catching images through the seasons.

The contest is for a cause much bigger than the bragging rights and framed print that Anderson won for her efforts. The annual contest is held to both showcase the beauty of the watershed and educate people about the importance of protecting and cleaning up its waters, said Hoffman.

The watershed project uses the calendar to print information about the watershed and offer ideas on how people can help it.

But without a doubt, Hoffman said it's the pictures that have the most impact. They show the many recreational opportunities available in the watershed, and offer people very good reason to value and appreciate it, she noted.

It's a large watershed covering 1,331,200 acres, and the photographs also convey some sense of its diversity. This year's scenes range from the frozen view of Lake Minnewaska -- the 13th largest lake in Minnesota -- to up close, intimate nature shots of wild fruit and a leopard frog snapped by Nancy Carlson of Willmar.

All are eye catching, said Hoffman. Each year she relies on the eyes of 20 impartial judges to select the winners. Without fail, they tell her the selection of photographs opens their eyes to a landscape they had once taken for granted.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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