Image of Cottonwood River SNA courtesy Minnesota DNR

Area residents can learn from biologists and naturalists, while helping scientists document species diversity, at an upcoming BioBlitz event in Brown County. The event will take place at Cottonwood River Prairie Scientific and Natural Area on Saturday, Aug. 19. 

The BioBlitz is a chance to shadow or assist naturalists and other scientists as they inventory the living organisms inhabiting Cottonwood River Prairie SNA in a one-day field study. It is an opportunity to learn from some of the top experts in Minnesota.

“The event serves three primary functions: to provide a learning experience for members of the public, to gather information about this particular prairie, and to gain insights about particular species researchers study,” SNA Specialist Brad Bolduan said. “Past SNA events studied organisms like plants, dragonflies, spiders, fungus and butterflies. Every year, the pool of experts present varies.”

While the rain-or-shine event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., surveys might happen throughout the day, and visitors are free to come and go as they wish. Activities vary in length and will continue until all participants have left.

“People of all experience levels are welcome,” Bolduan said. “We only require curiosity and enthusiasm.”

Long pants, appropriate footwear, tick protection and sunscreen are encouraged. Participants are also encouraged to plan ahead since there is no shelter, drinking water or restroom at the SNA.

Located just east of Sanborn in Brown County, Cottonwood River Prairie SNA (mndnr.gov/snas/detail.html?id=sna01054) has steep prairie hills hosting native plants and insects that at one time were much more common on the southern Minnesota landscape. Much of the 347-acre site has dry prairie. Two areas within this SNA were burned this spring, which might result in a good showing of wildflowers.

Additional events are scheduled throughout the summer. A full schedule is available on the Minnesota DNR website (mndnr.gov/events).

Funding for this event was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources.