Blaine property to be preserved, July 25 site tour

A rare piece of Anoka County’s natural history, which includes nearly a dozen threatened and endangered species, will be dedicated July 25 as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources natural preserve.

The public is invited to tour the site and learn about its features of the new Blaine Preserve Scientific and Natural Area. To reach the site from I-35W, take the 95th Avenue NE exit in Blaine and travel about 0.3 mile east to the Blaine Preserve Business Park, 3787 95th Ave. NE. The site is across the street.

The dedication ceremony begins 6:30 p.m. July 25 with remarks by state and local officials. The program will be followed by a 45-minute site tour led by biologists. People can stay 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.

The Blaine preserve 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 type 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.

Minnesota’s 159 scientific and natural areas 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.

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