One of the country’s largest oak savanna restorations has completed Phase I at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge through a partnership between Great River Greening and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Funded through the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, nearly 3,000 acres of oak savanna habitat – Minnesota’s most imperiled habitat type – has been restored over the past four years at the refuge, located near Zimmerman MN.
“The purpose,” Steve Karel, Refuge manager, describes, “is to improve habitat conditions for a suite of species that thrive in this ecosystem: red-headed woodpeckers, wild turkeys, bluebirds, sandhill cranes, and a host of others.”
The work thus far has involved forest thinning, prescribed burning, and planting of bur oak groves. Future phases will include a regime of prescribed grazing within oak savanna and wetlands for invasive species management.
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1965, is celebrated both for its wildlife and the extraordinary opportunities provided to visitors.
A transition zone between tallgrass prairie and forest, the land is biologically diverse, with oak savanna, wetland, and big woods habitats. Today, visitors may still discover the excitement that might have been felt over 100 years ago, as early pioneers stepped out of the “Big Woods” and onto the edge of Minnesota’s magnificent tallgrass prairie.