Lost 40 SNA

Photo courtesy of MN DRN. 

Those interested in exploring the Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) in northwest Itasca County are invited to participate in a self-guided Bioblitz this month. Hosted between September 16-30, the Bioblitz gives household groups and individuals the opportunity to be outside and contribute to community science while being socially distanced. 

“A BioBlitz is when school kids, scientists and the general public team up for a day of fieldwork. Together, they count, map and study a park’s diverse organisms, ranging from microscopic bacteria to moose,” according to the Minnesota DNR. “The program adds to a park’s official species lists, and helps highlight the importance of local and regional biodiversity.”

The Lost 40 SNA is an old-growth pine forest that was missed by loggers because of a surveying error during the Public Land Survey in 1882. Surveyors mistakenly mapped the area as Coddington Lake, which is located a half-mile to the southeast. The area was resurveyed in 1960 and the error was corrected. Not long after, the site was incorporated into the Chippewa National Forest, allowing the trees to continue growing.

A highlight of the Lost 40 SNA is its nearly 32 acres of designated old-growth white pine and red pine forest. Some of the oldest individual trees within the SNA are red pines estimated to be 230-240 years old, according to a 2009 study. The stand also features the “co-champion red pine” of Minnesota’s Native Big Tree Registry, measured at 115” in circumference and 120’ high.

“Unlike most SNAs, this site features a marked trail that loops through the “Lost 40 Site” which includes the SNA and the adjacent national forest land,” according to the Minnesota DNR. “Along this upland route, visitors will encounter the old-growth pine forest as well as spruce-fir forest, with views to surrounding lowlands occupied by alder swamp and black spruce bog. Moose Brook, a tributary of the Big Fork River, meanders across the northwest corner of the SNA.”

To participate, sign up on iNaturalist by joining the Lost 40 SNA Self-guided Bioblitz 2020 project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/lost-40-self-guided-bioblitz-2020) and check the project journal postings for event updates, guidelines and tips, before visiting the site. An SNA water bottle will be given to the participant with the most observations. Results will be shared with participants, and verified research-grade plant observations will be added to the plant lists on the webpage.

Those visiting are asked to wear sturdy footwear and to dress appropriately for the weather. There is an interpretive hiking trail, but people are encouraged to explore off-trail to collect observations. 

This will be the last SNA self-guided Bioblitz of the year. Stay tuned for next year!

The Lost 40 SNA is located, from Alvwood, 11 miles E on County Highway 29, then two miles north on County Highway 26, then 0.8 mile west on Forest Road 2240 (Lost 40 Road). 

For more information contact Kari Wallin, SNA volunteer outreach specialist at 651-259-5156 or by email at kari.wallin@state.mn.us. Event details can be found at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/events/event.html?id=64636 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/596188567760139/

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