Stretching for 72 miles intermittently along the Minnesota River in the Twin Cities area from Fort Snelling to Henderson, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is an urban oasis for nature and nature lovers alike. The more than 14,000 acres are managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which also oversees the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District that spans another 14 Minnesota counties.
The refuge is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016—the same date it was established by Congressional Order in 1976—with a public celebration that coincides with National Wildlife Refuge Week. Events will be held at the Bloomington Education and Visitor, 3815 American Blvd. East. The day-long celebration will include family-friendly and hands-on activities such as birding, exploration, fishing, hiking and more.
“Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is one of Minnesota’s best kept secrets. It provides Twin Cities residents access just minutes from their homes to a wilderness area where they can take advantage of free outdoor recreational experiences that include biking, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, bird watching and hunting,” said Tim Bodeen, Refuge Manager. “Featuring a variety of habitats—including lakes, marshes, prairies, oak savannas and floodplain forests — the Refuge offers endless inspiration to artists and nature photographers alike.”
While initially established to provide valuable habitat for migratory birds—including waterbirds, wading birds, waterfowl and passerines—the reserve now serves as a key site in Minnesota for monarch butterfly conservation efforts. It is located less than 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis, making it one of only 17 refuges across the country designated as an Urban Wildlife Refuge. The Bloomington Education and Visitor Center is a one-quarter mile walk from the Metro Blue Line’s American Boulevard 34th Avenue Station and Platform.
The refuge plans to add additional activities to continue the year-long celebration to commemorate its anniversary. To learn more, visit fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley/, call 952-854-5900 or find the refuge on social media at @MNvalleyNWR or facebook.com/MNvalleyNWR.