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Displaying a color-coded map of the preserve, Husveth said that “you can’t walk in a straight line across this site without encountering a state endangered or threatened species.”
He said the wetland is so rich in species because it has a fertile transition zone between the fen and the wet prairie ecosystems. The site also offers black-eyed Susans, purple blazing stars, deer, muskrats, monarch butterflies and coyotes.
“Since the glacier came down and receded, this wetland has been about 10,000 years in the making,” Husveth said.
SNAs have been a little-known natural amenity compared with state parks, trails and forests. About 18 months ago, the DNR used state Natural Resources Trust fund to attract more visitors by publicizing the wild and scenic areas and holding events such as naturalist-led hikes and talks. The DNR also is recruiting site stewards – volunteers who help manage and make monthly checks on the sites. Kelly Randall, assigned to oversee outreach efforts, said the number of stewards has increased from about 10 a year ago to 100.
The state has acquired 188,000 acres for SNAs since the program started in 1969. Randall said the DNR has used Natural Resources Trust funds from State Lottery proceeds to buy 6,522 SNA acres for about $22.1 million since 2000.
The Blaine SNA is one of the few with a parking area, borrowed from the adjoining Lexington Memorial Park on Hamline Avenue. Preserve entry points are not marked, so visitors should consult the DNR’s website, which has maps and directions at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas.
You’ll know you’re on the right path if you see the brown DNR sign asking you not to pick the flowers and suggesting you “walk gently.”
Jim Adams • 952-746-3283