The Glacial Lake Agassiz once was the largest freshwater lake in the world, larger even than the Great Lakes. It sprawled across North Dakota and Minnesota and far into Manitoba and Saskatchewan, nurtured by the melting waters of the great glaciers of the north. Along the Eastern shore of this glacial lake, on an ancient river delta, now lies Norway Dunes.
It is one of the highest quality sand dune oak savannas in Minnesota. You can walk amid gnarled, stunted burr oak trees; these 20- to 25-foot tall trees are a rare sight. The savanna covers about 100 acres of the preserve, with wetland and lowland forest covering the remaining 220 acres.
Why TNC Selected This Site
As one of the highest quality sand dune oak savannas in Minnesota, the chance to purchase this land in 1982 was a rare opportunity. Norway Dunes preserves an excellent example of what plants could be found along the Agassiz sand dunes before settlers moved here.
In addition to Norway Dunes, there are three additional Conservancy preserves that lie along the former shore of Glacial Lake Agassiz and feature sand dunes. They include the Wallace C. Dayton Conservation & Wildlife Area, near Skull Lake Wildlife Management Area; Agassiz Dunes Scientific and Natural Area; and Brown Ranch in North Dakota's Sheyenne Delta.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
Because Norway Dunes preserve is a haven for native plants, it's important to control the threat posed by invasive non-native plants. The sudden introduction of a foreign species to a new landscape, one free from natural competitors and predators, can cause ecological chaos.
There are several ways to control their encroachment. One way is using a prescribed burn. Fire traditionally plays an important role in the prairie ecosystem. It can remove debris, increase the vigor of fire-dependent plants and, most importantly, remove invasive species.