Glacial Ridge Nature Preserve

Mentor Travel Blog

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Listen to the birds, frogs and wind while enjoying a view of cattails in a wetland

Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, along Hwy 2, is a large area being converted from row crop and range farming back to its native tall grass prairie and wetland environment by the Nature Conservancy.  I spent about three years out in this area working.  The site is now a nature preserve and has many different types of wildlife and plant life.  Fields have been seeded with big bluestem grasses and other prairie flowers.  Restored wetlands are drawing wildlife to the area, including the sandhill cranes that migrate through the area. 

The area is part of the Glacial Lake Agassiz beach ridge system.  Back during the last ice age, a large lake covered much of the area.

forgotton farming implement
  Receding lake levels caused a series of parallel beach ridges that forms a complex system of upland prairie and wetlands.  The drier, sandier beach ridges are favorable to the prairie grasses.  Smaller wetlands perch up behind the ridges and the groundwater flows through the ridges resulting in another wetland at the base of the ridges called a fen.  Fens are not a common type of wetland and often are home to endangered species, such as the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

Moose and deer abound, okay deer more so than moose, as well as prairie chickens, sandhill cranes, and turkey.  This is a great area for those interested in birds, wildlife or flowers.  Much of the preserve is open to hunting (at the appropriate season).

The Pembina Trail runs north through the preserve.

prairie smoke
  This ox cart trail led from Minneapolis to Winnipeg for the fur trade and supplies in the late 1800s.  The trails were often on the tops of the beach ridges where the trail was sandy and drier and the wheels less likely to get stuck in the mud.  The original two-track trail is still visible and accessible in many areas.  The trail is driveable for about 3 continuous miles north-south through the preserve (four wheel drive recommended) and then is cut by railroad tracks and ditches. 

I just added this really cool video I forgot I had.  I sat by this wetland and listened to the sounds of nature - many different birds, frogs and insects plus the wind.  It was so peaceful - I felt like I was all alone (which I was) in this big wide world.  The only bird call I could identify was the red winged blackbird.   It was just amazing that I get paid to sit out here!  How cool is that?  Make sure you have your sound turned up when you watch this video because there isn't much to see but a LOT to hear!

flammick says:
great blog! i really enjoyed reading it.
Posted on: Dec 03, 2008
ary_tyas says:
ohhh make me think to visit Minnisota :-)) great job!!
Posted on: Nov 11, 2008
jake421 says:
Wow Alyssa, great blog and awesome pictures! Thank you for sharing your experience and Minnesota history.
Posted on: Aug 24, 2008
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Listen to the birds, frogs and wi…
forgotton farming implement
forgotton farming implement
prairie smoke
prairie smoke
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sandhill cranes take flight
sandhill cranes take flight
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baby sandhill crane
sandhill cranes in field
sandhill cranes in field
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sunflower field
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western fringed prairie orchid (e…
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wood lily and clover
Pembina Trail
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lake and moraine
big bluestem prairie
big bluestem prairie
prairie flowers
prairie flowers
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Brr... cold and wet sampling an i…
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baby moose
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photo by: alyssa_ob