Conservation & Restoration in Minnesota: This tour will take us to one wetland restoration and three conservation sites. Our first stop, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, is the oldest public wildflower garden in the nation. Established in 1907, this 15 acre garden surrounded by urban landscapes is home to over 500 species of plants and 130 bird species. Heading west, Schaefer Prairie is a 160 acre remnant of the once-vast northern tallgrass prairie. Schaefer Prairie harbors an estimated 275 species including several threatened species and species of concern: Hill’s thistle, Sullivant’s milkweed, and Nuttall’s bur-reed. The Nature Conservancy oversees its management.
Our restoration visit takes us to the Spring Peeper Meadow, located at the MN Landscape Arboretum. The site of Spring Peeper Meadow was drained and used for agriculture for decades. In 1995, work began to restore it to its original wetland status as a sedge meadow.
The last stop of the day is Seminary Fen. It is a calcareous fen, one of the rarest wetland ecosystems in the world. Of the estimated 500 calcareous fens in the world, about 200 are located in Minnesota. Due to their mineral-rich and oxygen-poor waters, these fens are often home to rare plant species such as the Sterile Sedge, Beaked Spike-Rush, Common Valerian, and White Lady-Slipper.
The bus for this tour departs the hotel at 7:45 a.m.