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BioBlitz: A Biological Scavenger Hunt on the Minnesota Prairie

The Simon Lake BioBlitz in west-central Minnesota has volunteers helping to identify plant and animal species to provide guidance on conservation efforts. Credit: Land Stewardship Project.
The Simon Lake BioBlitz in west-central Minnesota has volunteers helping to identify plant and animal species to provide guidance on conservation efforts. Credit: Land Stewardship Project.
July 9, 2015

GLENWOOD, Minn. – Dozens of people are gathering this weekend in west-central Minnesota to learn which plants and animals are living in one of the most threatened ecosystems in the country – and what can be done to help them thrive.

The Simon Lake area in Pope County is home to an endangered prairie pothole "biome," or large-scale ecosystem, of thousands of shallow wetlands.

Robin Moore with the Land Stewardship Project says the area will also be home to a BioBlitz this Friday and Saturday, as volunteers work with naturalists to record as many plant and animal species as possible.

"When people know more about what surrounds them, they're more interested in taking better care about it," says Moore. "It's a really great way to get people to interact with Fish and Wildlife, DNR and other local people who know a lot about the prairie."

Moore says another reason for the effort is to record the impact of ranchers and farmers in the region who are using grazing to help reduce invasive plants and improve the health of the native prairie.

"Using grazing as a specific management tool to increase habitat, plant and animal diversity, and keep out invasives they've been trying to remove," she says. "The invasives are primarily sumac and cedar."

This weekend's event is a follow-up to a BioBlitz that was held in the same area last summer, which provided a baseline for future monitoring and conservation efforts in the area.

In addition to the Land Stewardship Project, Clean Up the River Environment and the Chippewa River Watershed Project are also co-sponsors of the BioBlitz.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN