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Lake Alexander Preserve/Alexander Woods SNA
The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Lake Alexander Preserve is centered in an 180,000-acre mosaic of mixed oak forest, wetlands, ponds and stands of red and white pine. The unfragmented nature of the site provides important habitat to songbirds dependent on the forest's interior. Old logging roads cro...
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Northland Arboretum Important Bird Area (IBA)
Description: The 600+acre site is comprised of the Northland Arboretum, the Paul Bunyan Jack Pine Savanna (owned by The Nature Conservancy) and the Fremling Tree Farm. Open dusk to dawn seven days a week to offer respite to residents and visitors. Sit in the gazebo, linger on the bridge, stroll along a path or ski through the winter woods.

This location highlights a mosaic of habitats including grasslands and restored prairie, jack pine forest, wetlands, a stream, shrub bog and of special importance, a 200-acre jack pine savanna. Native jack pine and bur oak dominate the sand plain.

However, beautiful gardens of wild and cultivated flowers have been carved into the setting, including the Minnesota DNR “Landscaping for Wildlife” demonstration area. Other gardens, featuring a memorial wall, waterfall and aquatic plants, provide additional habitat for insects, birds and wildlife.

Depending on the season, enjoy marsh marigold, blue flag, hoary puccoon, birds-foot violet, prairie phlox, pipsissewa, black-eyed Susan, blazing star, harebell, aster, swamp milkweed, lupine, cardinal flower, cosmos, coneflower and a host of other cheery comrades. Don’t overlook water lilies in a replica of Monet's garden pond, as well as native orchids and ferns that dot the landscape.

Dragon and damselflies, bees and butterflies flitting about make this songbird sanctuary special. It will be easy to see why this oasis in the midst of city has been designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

Wildlife to Watch: Look and listen for ruffed grouse, eastern bluebirds, downy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, ovenbirds and American goldfinches. Of 136 species of birds found on the IBA, 24 vireos and warblers have been recorded and 53 likely breeders noted.

Some of the more unusual avians documented include northern harriers, red-shouldered hawks, sandhill cranes, black-billed cuckoos and clay-colored, vesper, savannah and LeConte's sparrows. There is an active eagle nest on the edge of the marsh too.

Watch for beaver, mink, white-tailed deer and other small mammals. If luck has it, it's possible you may spot a fisher, river otter, bobcat or even a bear!

Special Tips: Be sure to scan for signs of wildlife—holes excavated in trees, tracks in the mud or snow, chiseled tree stumps, scat on the trails and freshly dug dirt indicate animals are in the vicinity.

A nominal entrance fee is charged for the Arboretum. Ski passes are required.

Other Activities: Fifteen miles of mowed summer trails and walkable roads are groomed in winter for cross-country skiing. There’s even a lighted ski trail. Ski passes are required. Mountain bikes are permitted only on marked trails and on the bordering Paul Bunyan State Trail.

Ownership: Multiple 
Size: 634 acres 
Closest Town: Brainerd

RestroomsParkingCross Country SkiingHikingPicnic tablesFeeDrinking Water

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Gray Tree Frog - Photo by Andrea Lee Lambrecht
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
The Arboretum is on the north side of Brainerd behind the Westgate Mall. From Highway 210 look for the brown signs and turn north onto 7th Street NW, proceed a half-mile to the entrance.

Map Link

Northland Arboretum Important Bird Area (IBA) : Wildlife Viewing Area