SNA Nature Notes - Winter 2013

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Winter 2013

Recreational Uses of SNAs

The DNR is proposing to allow more recreational opportunities at selected SNAs to increase awareness and support for the SNA program. Public hearings will take place in early 2014 for each SNA where additional uses are proposed. More details will become available in January.



Rare Plant Discovered at Morton Outcrop SNA

Photo of chaffweed (Anagallis minima)

By Peter M. Dziuk

This past July, while on a three day field trip to photograph rare plants in southwest and central Minnesota , John Thayer and I (Peter Dziuk) made a rare plant discovery at Morton Outcrop SNA. I'm the primary field surveyor and photographer for the on-line field guide, Minnesota Wildflowers, and John is a collaborator for the field guide and a senior at the University of Minnesota, finishing up his plant biology degree.

The diminutive plant discovered in a seepage area turned out to be Anagallis minima or chaffweed; however new nomenclature now lists it as Lysimachia minima. At first glance it is somewhat similar to common chickweed; especially leaf size and shape, though with more erect stems. Instead of the small star-like white flowers of chickweed, the flowers of chaffweed are pale yellow, mostly with four petals, single in the leaf axils, and barely 1/16" across.

Common throughout much of the southwestern and south central US and most of Florida, it is rare throughout its range in the northern Great Plains and into Canada. While it does not appear that an original voucher specimen exists for this species in Minnesota, it is noted in eFloras as having been reported in Minnesota in Big Stone County in 1901. This past year DNR listed the species as "historical".

My GPS coordinates indicated it was actually just outside the southern boundary of the formal SNA so a specimen was collected for the Bell Museum of Natural History. I also sent a quick note of the find to Welby Smith, DNR Botanist and inquired what happens when something that was considered permanently lost is suddenly found again. Information about the find will be added to Biotics, an international database of information about rare species, and DNR will be evaluating the significance of the discovery.



SNA Events

Photo of volunteers piling and burning brush

Looking for a way to stay active this winter? Lost Valley Prairie SNA volunteer projects just might be the answer. Help with stacking and burning brush piles, or removing invasive species at one of the volunteer projects listed below. A full list of events is available on the SNA Events Calendar.



Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Burn Brush, Invasive Removal


Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Burn Brush, Invasive Removal


Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Volunteer Project: Clear Brush




Site Highlight: Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA

Photo of site steward removing buckthorn

At just over 20 acres Clinton Falls Dwarf Trout Lily SNA is one of the smaller SNAs in Minnesota. What it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in ideal habitat for a very rare wildflower. Dwarf trout lilies naturally occur only in three counties in southeastern Minnesota, and nowhere else on earth and are therefore designated as federally endangered. This site contains one of the most significant populations of this Minnesota endemic, and unlike other sites, this populations seems to be thriving.

The significance of this site has not gone unnoticed by DNR Botanists. They have been documenting the extent of the dwarf trout lily population here using GPS technology. The newly acquired information will eventually be used to help design a monitoring protocol to track the status of this population over time. And, when it comes to the long-term conservation of dwarf trout lilies at the site it will take botanists, land managers, and volunteers working in concert to preserve this little wildflower.

The site is also benefiting greatly from the dedication of site stewards Jerry and Karen Ibberson. Just this year they have given two presentations about the site to local civic groups, removed trash, surveyed the dwarf trout lilies, pulled invasive dame's rocket, and spent several hours removing invasive buckthorn this fall. Jerry has even taken DNR chainsaw training (to accelerate the buckthorn removal work as shown in the adjacent photo).



Notes from Site Stewards

Photo of hand collecting native prairie seed

The activities of site stewards monitoring SNAs across Minnesota has been exceptional this year. Their observations provide invaluable information to the SNA Program. Here are some interesting notes from reports:

  • Gloria Gervais gave the following envy-inducing report from her visit to Eagle's Nest Island No. 4 SNA. "Kayaked my way to and around the SNA on October 10th. A much warmer day. Floated in the golden glory of it all. Everything looks to be fine on the island; easier to get around it now that the foliage has died back a bit. Flushed a few ducks from the little bays, but otherwise everything was quiet."
  • Oronoco Prairie SNA has seen some significant change in the last year or so. A project last winter removed woody material from two 10-acre hills. To encourage regrowth of native prairie species, site steward Jim Ivy hand collected seed, as shown in the adjacent photo, from the site on November 7th and distributed it on the hills.
  • Seed collection was on the agenda as well for Trevor Bordelon, site steward at Wild Indigo Prairie SNA. On October 25th Trevor collected seed from one area of the site to be used for restoration of another area that had been damaged.

Thanks stewards for submitting those reports, and keep them coming!



Update on Prairie Butterflies in Trouble

Since the publication of the Prairie Butterflies in Trouble Nature Note article in our last issue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed listing the Dakota skipper as a threatened species and the Poweshiek skipperling as an endangered species under authority of the Endangered Species Act. Learn more about the proposed designation.



Nature Notes is the Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas quarterly e-newsletter. It seeks to increase interest, understanding and support of natural areas while promoting involvement in the protection of these special places. Contact us at


Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).