The Nature Conservancy Gives Twin Cities Preserve to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Donation to Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Will Preserve South Dakota Prairie

MINNEAPOLIS | December 23, 2011

Black Dog Unit at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

The Nature Conservancy has donated Black Dog Preserve in Burnsville to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so that it can be added to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The 95-acre preserve was acquired by the Conservancy in 1984 and is adjacent to the refuge.

The preserve includes an observation area and a 1.5-mile hiking trail. “It’s an important wildlife area and a popular site with the public for wildlife observation. It will be a valuable addition to the Black Dog Unit of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge,” said Charlie Blair, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge manager.

Black Dog Preserve contains remnants of wet and mesic blacksoil prairie that once occurred throughout the Minnesota River Valley. The preserve also contains a calcareous fen, a rare type of wetland characterized by an upwelling of calcium-rich groundwater.

Visitors will find water flowing at the preserve year-round. Flooding of low ground can occur in April and May. In summer, the fen water level is just below the soil surface. One of the best times to visit is late July when blazing stars are blooming or late summer when aster and goldenrods are in flower.

Nearby Black Dog Lake is a stopover site for numerous migratory birds in the spring and fall including ducks, geese and double-breasted cormorants.
Black Dog Preserve and Black Dog Lake are named after Black Dog, the chief of a band of Dakota Indians who lived in the area until the mid-1800s.

As a result of the Conservancy’s donation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conserve prairie and wetlands in South Dakota under what is known as the Prairies Without Borders project.

The collaborative effort allows sponsors to provide matching donations to leverage grant funds from the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission through the North America Wetlands Conservation Act.

The grant funds will enable the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase conservation easements within the Prairie Coteau, one of the nation’s best remaining grassland landscapes located in western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and part of southern North Dakota.

“Prairies Without Borders is an innovative conservation project that helps us protect an incredibly significant native prairie,” said Peggy Ladner, who oversees the Conservancy’s work in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“Grasslands are the most threatened, least protected habitat type on Earth. They help clean and store water and they’re beautiful wide-open places that are great for people and wildlife. They’re irreplaceable. We’re thrilled that we’re helping save them before they’re lost forever,” she said.

Ladner said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be a great steward of Black Dog Preserve. “We know it’s in good hands,” she said.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at

In Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy has helped conserve more than 650,000 acres since 1958. The Conservancy has 23,000 members in Minnesota and offices in Minneapolis, St. Joseph, Glyndon, Duluth, Karlstad, Mentor and Preston. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

The Nature Conservancy
Chris Anderson, 612- 331-0747 (office), 612- 845-2744 (cell),

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Tina Shaw, 612-713-5331(office), 612-749-2347 (,mobile),

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