The Blazing Star Prairie Preserve is located on one of the highest overlooks of the Red River Valley, and was once covered by Glacial Lake Agassiz. A wave-deposited beach ridge crosses the site. The preserve is a prime combination of wet, gravel and mesic prairie, the last being dominant-a rarity in Clay County and the state. On early spring mornings, visitors to the preserve can hear the resonant booming call of the prairie chickens, as they carry out their courtship ritual to establish territories and compete for mates.
Northwestern Minnesota, Clay County, near Felton
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The preserve was named for the blazing star that is found in several areas within the site. The major reason for acquiring the preserve was the four prairie chicken mating grounds situated within a two-mile radius of the tract.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
With the assistance of the Red River Valley Sugar Beet Association, the preserve was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 1975. In 1981, the State officially designated it as a Scientific and Natural Area.
What to See: Plants
There are approximately 120 species of vascular plants within the preserve, including lotus, gentian, arbutus, and lily. The small white lady's slipper, a species of special concern, is commonly found in the wet depressions east of the beach ridge. In the drier areas of the preserve, needlegrass and side oats grama are the dominant grasses. Visitors will also enjoy the array of wildflowers that begins with pasque flowers in early spring and ends with asters in the early fall. Subtle differences in relief, soils, available moisture and other factors result in a patchwork of plant communities in an area of only a few acres.
What to See: Animals
In addition to the prairie chicken, the preserve provides habitat for the marbled godwit and sharp-tailed sparrow (both species of special concern in Minnesota). One threatened species, the loggerhead shrike, and three endangered species, the chestnut-collared longspur, Sprague's pipit, and Baird's sparrow also use the preserve. Blazing Star Prairie also is home to butterflies, including the endangered Assiniboia skipper and Uhler's Artic, the threatened Dakota skipper, the Poweshiek skipper and regal fritillary (a species of special concern).
For more information on visiting this and other Minnesota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.
Blazing Star Prairie is located southeast of Felton. From Felton drive four miles east on County Road 34. Then turn south on an unimproved township line road and travel south one mile to the north boundary of the preserve. Park on the side of the road. Nearest services are in Felton, Ulen, Glyndon and Ada.