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Minnesota

Sheepberry Fen

This environment creates ecological conditions favorable to supporting certain very rare plants.


The Sheepberry Fen preserve includes a mix of dry upland prairie and oak savanna and a large groundwater-fed wetland complex called a calcareous fen. Calcareous fens are rare peat wetlands characterized by cold inflowing groundwater containing dissolved calcium and magnesium. This environment creates ecological conditions favorable to supporting certain very rare plants.  

Location
Pope County , west central Minnesota

Size
720 acres

Plants
There are four threatened plants found in the preserve: sterile sedge, whorled nut-rush, hair-like beak-rush, and prairie moonwort. Little bluestem, Indian grass and side-oats gamma are the dominate grasses. Porcupine grass and big bluestem are also common. In spring and summer visitors won’t be disappointed when the hills are ablaze with prairie flowers. An array of purple coneflowers, blazing stars and asters bloom among the gamma grasses.

Animals
Four occurrences of regal fritillary butterflies (a species of special concern) have been found on the preserve among many other butterflies. Birds, including bobolinks and meadowlarks, nest among the grasses. Northern harriers, with their distinctive white tail markings, hunt from the skies above the preserves.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In Minnesota , less than once percent remains of the tallgrass prairie that covered most of the western and southern parts of the state before European settlement. Sheepberry Fen represents one of the last relatively large remnants of high quality dry prairie in the region and it includes a rare high-quality calcareous fen.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Our specific role in this conservation area is to maintain the proper natural disturbances needed to maintain the diversity of the fire-dependent systems, such as dry hill prairies and oak savanna. Another important role for the Conservancy is to ensure that proper land management is conducted along the edges and within the wetlands, especially since calcareous fens are rare peat wetlands.

For more information on visiting this and other Minnesota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

Directions

From Paynesville, take State Highway 55 west to Brooten, then take County Road 8 west about 6 miles to Highway 104. Go south on Highway 104 for 3 miles to County Road 84. Go west on County Road 84 about 1.75 miles. Go south onto 172nd Avenue. Sheepberry Fen is 1 mile south on the west side of 172nd Avenue. Look for the preserve sign.

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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