Places We Protect

Blazing Star Prairie Scientific And Natural Area


in Minnesota.
Prairie Blazing Starr in Minnesota. © Michelle Kalantari/TNC

The Blazing Star Prairie Preserve was once covered by Glacial Lake Agassiz.



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.

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.




160 acres

Explore our work in this region

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 Assiniboia skipper, a state endangered species, and regal fritillary, a species of special concern in Minnesota. The federally endangered poweshiek skipper has not been documented here in recent years.

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