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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #52                                                                                        July 11, 2013

IN THIS ISSUE
DNR protects rare Blaine wetland; public dedication set for July 25


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DNR protects rare Blaine wetland; public dedication set for July 25

A rare piece of Anoka County’s natural history, which includes nearly a dozen threatened and endangered plants, will be dedicated as a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) nature preserve July 25. The public is invited to tour the site and learn about its features.

The dedication of the Blaine Preserve Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) will start at 6:30 p.m. with remarks by state and local officials. The program will be followed by a 45-minute site tour led by biologists. People can stay on after the site tour for 45 minutes of site stewardship work, such as cutting invasive buckthorn or pulling knapweed. Participants should come with waterproof footwear, drinking water and bug repellent.

Located a few hundred yards east of Interstate 35W, just off 95th Avenue, the Blaine Preserve SNA offers a snapshot of what parts of the north metro area may have looked like 100 years ago. The 63-acre site represents one of the state’s rarest types of wetlands, a rich fen, where layers of peat and slightly acidic groundwater create the conditions needed by unusual plants such as cross-leaved milkwort, twisted yellow-eyed grass and the tubercled rein-orchid.

The fen is within what biologists refer to as the Anoka Sand Plain – likely an ancient glacial lake bed that includes most of Anoka, Sherburne and Isanti counties – and much of the area has been severely modified by drainage, agriculture and development.

The same fate might well have befallen the Blaine Preserve site, but for a number of fortuitous circumstances. First identified as something special by a private ecologist conducting a natural resource inventory funded by the city of Blaine and the DNR’s Metro Greenways program in 1999, the area was part of a larger property slated for development because of its proximity to major highways. The developer worked with city, county and state officials to identify mechanisms under state wetland and rare species laws that allowed development on one part of the property to be offset by the protection and management of the fen and its rare features.

“The protection of this unique site is the result of a wealth of people, patience and persistence coming together,” said Larissa Mottl, DNR’s central region SNA coordinator. “Now it will be forever available to the public as a sort of outdoors gallery of nature’s artistry, a library of Minnesota’s biodiversity with more than 300 native plants, a vital bit of habitat in an otherwise largely developed area.”

Minnesota’s 159 SNAs represent some of the rarest and best preserved examples of pre-European settlement plant communities. They are open to the public for passive recreation, such as hiking, wildlife watching and studying nature. They generally have no developed trails, restrooms or other such amenities found at parks.

To reach the SNA site from I-35W, take the 95th Avenue exit and travel about 0.3 miles east to the Blaine Preserve Business Park, 3787 95th Ave. NE in Blaine, where free parking will be available for the dedication. Activities will take place at the SNA on the opposite side of the street.

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