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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
The Big Woods—or Bois Grand, as French explorers called this unique forested landscape—once covered more than 3400 square miles in Minnesota. Less than 10 square miles of this hardwood forest remains. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is the largest remaining high-quality tract of this once-massi...
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Boyd Sartell Wildlife Management Area
Description: The brilliant golden bloom of marsh marigolds in April and May welcome you to the emergent marsh and “Big Woods “maple-basswood forests of the Boyd Sartell WMA. This site has two units. The main part is located on the south and east side of 940-acre Shields Lake and is a mixture of marsh, small ponds, oak, maple, basswood and grass fields.

The Rainbow Island portion, comprising 155 acres, is nestled between the east shore of Shields Lake and west shore by shallow Little Mud Lake. This unit is a bog birch habitat type, uncommon to southern Minnesota.

Individuals and conservation organizations have contributed to the preservation and management of this area for the benefit wildlife. The first tract of the unit was a donation fulfilling the wishes of Mr. Sartell.

Wildlife to Watch: Here you can watch migrating waterfowl in their mating plumage along the headwaters of the Cannon River and adjacent Shields Lake. Mallards, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, hooded mergansers and green-winged teal join comical ruddy ducks on the water. Watch the sedge meadows for a northern harrier trying to scare up one of the migrating shorebirds on the scattered mud flats. Stop here later in the breeding season and look for sandhill cranes lurking the marsh. Boyd is an excellent place to sit and listen to calls of secretive marshbirds—bitterns as well as sora and Virginia rails. Other species to watch for include: bald eagles, Cooper’s hawks, trumpeter swans, Forester’s terns, pied-billed grebes, red-winged blackbirds, semipalmated sandpipers, short-billed dowitchers, great egrets and green herons.

Muskrats and beavers ply the water and if you’re lucky, you may spot a shy, spiny softshell turtle. Look and listen for white-lipped western chorus frogs calling from moist woods and wetlands.

Special Tips: Keep your eyes open for beautiful gray fox frequenting the area, as well as white-tailed deer that roam through the woods.

Other Activities: None

Ownership: MN DNR 
Size: 991 acres 
Closest Town: Shieldsville/Faribault

FishingHikingLarge BoatsSmall Boats

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Sandhill Cranes - Photo by Carrol Henderson
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
Take State Highway 21/Shieldsville Blvd. north out of Faribault, cross I-35, proceed to the northwest and go through the small town of Shieldsville. Turn south onto Camp Winona Trail, the Rainbow Unit will be on the east side of the road. Continue on and the road will take you into the main part of the WMA. Camp Winona Trail will dead end at County Road 30/Hunt Lake.

If traveling south on State Highway 21/Shieldsville Blvd. from the town of Montgomery to Shields Lake, go to County Road 64/Irwin Tr. and turn southwest; turn onto Jackson Avenue, which forms the western boundary of the WMA.

Map Link

Boyd Sartell Wildlife Management Area : Wildlife Viewing Area