Ready to learn more about prairie species in your neighborhood?
Are you a prairie enthusiast ready to share your knowledge and passion with others? Looking for a fun family day that also supports public lands? Join us for a BioBlitz in and around Big Stone Lake state park near Ortonville, MN!
This year, in partnership with Land Stewardship Project (LSP), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR), we are surveying tallgrass prairie managed by the USFWS and DNR in partnership with local livestock farmers.
Not sure what a BioBlitz is?
A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record as many living species possible in a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists, and volunteers conduct this survey over a specific period of time. This BioBlitz focuses on learning about our local prairies and teaching each other about what lives there, about understanding the biological wealth that we have in our western Minnesota communities, and about sharing our excitement and passion for this precious resource. Our goal is to create a species list for the prairie parcels at this event, with the challenge of finding as much diversity as possible. We will catalog our findings on the citizen science website iNaturalist.org, where our project name will be Tallgrass Prairie BioBlitz 2019.
Why do we hold a BioBlitz?
We know that healthy farming communities make rural living better on many levels, but we don’t usually connect the importance of diverse, sustainable farming operations that have livestock with the care and management of public lands and native prairie. The BioBlitz originated from the desire to help the general non-farming public understand the vital part that well-managed grazing livestock play in maintaining our public lands and native prairies. Not only are grazing animals good for native prairie, but they are key in some plant, insect and animal life cycles, as well as an important tool for managing invasive species and sequestering carbon back into the soil. We want to raise up the great relationships between public land managers and graziers, the benefits of grazing public land to both public and private pastures, as well as underline that public lands need healthy farming communities around them to provide livestock management services.
Another critical piece of this event is species monitoring on these parcels. Throughout the day as we survey the native prairie parcels, we create as diverse of a species list as possible and register it on iNaturalist. This list serves as a monitoring tool for land managers and as public record for species recorded in the area.
Who can participate in the BioBlitz? Anyone! We need two types of volunteers:
- Leaders: those with above-average skills in identifying one or more category of prairie species and are willing to lead and help educate small groups of volunteers (Eyes and Ears). We are especially in need of those able to identify insects, bats, and frogs.
- Eyes and Ears: volunteers to learn about and then help spot and record as many species as we can on Saturday.
This event is appropriate for all ages, and groups/clubs are welcome. RSVP’s are important so we can plan accordingly. Please contact Robin at or 320-269-2105or Peg at or at 320-269-2105 if you’d like to volunteer!
- This is a day-long event starting 5:00 am with birding, or 7-8 am registration, bagels, and coffee. People may join us at any point in the day, registering at the Big Stone Lake State Park with event staff.
- We will be offering presentations on different subjects throughout the day at the park site, and conducting surveys approximately 12 miles away at the survey site. We will have buses running every 1/2 hour and ask that people park at the State Park.
- The event has a $25 (individual) and $50 (family) suggested donation to help us cover the costs of the day. This is not a requirement to participate, and anyone may join us. You are also free to donate more if you like! Any vehicle without a DNR State Park Pass will have to pay $7 at the Big Stone State Park entrance for the day. This is a per vehicle charge, so carpooling is advised.
- We will provide light breakfast and lunch fare. We apologize, but we cannot accommodate for special diets! The local Lismore Hutterite community will be providing lunch: pulled turkey sandwiches and loads of home-grown veggies.
- For the evening meal, LSP will provide local grass-fed burgers, and all other dishes will be a potluck. Bring something to share!
- Camping is available through the DNR at the Big Stone Lake State Park, or call the park office to reserve.
- More details to be announced as the event date approaches. Please contact Robin at or 320-269-2105or Peg at or at 320-269-2105 with questions.