The Carlos Avery Important Bird Area is a relatively large (85,680 acre); multi-owner site that includes portions of Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, and Washington counties. The southern end of this IBA is located about 12 miles from the center of the Twin Cities and is easily reached via Interstates 35W or 35E on the southern and eastern end and from State Highway 65 on the west. Most of the area is within the Anoka Sand Plain eco-subsection and habitats are dominated by wetlands, open water, oak savanna and upland deciduous forests. Residential development is increasing in and around the IBA resulting in heavy recreational use of the area.

The IBA is dominated by the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and also includes a number of state, county and private lands. State owned lands are; Carlos Avery WMA, Gordie Mikleson WMA, Lamprey Pass WMA, Sandhill Crane Natural Area, Boot Lake Scientific and Natural Area (SNA), and Allison Savanna SNA. The University of Minnesota owns and operates the Cedar Creek Natural History Area. Anoka County Parks owns the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Preserve, Coon Lake Park, and Martin-Island-Linwood Lakes Regional Park. With its close proximity to the Twin Cities the area is heavily used for a wide variety of recreational activities.

Carlos Avery WMA is approximately 23,000 acres in size and consists of about 2/3 wetland and 1/3 upland with a mix of oak savanna and grasslands. The area was established in 1934 and is named for Carlos Avery who was Minnesota?s first Game and Fish Commissioner. It is one of the largest blocks of wildlife lands in the Twin Cities Metro area and is managed primarily for deer, waterfowl, and turkeys. There are two parts to the WMA, the Sunrise Unit, located east of Stacy, MN and the main portion, the Carlos Avery Unit which contains the WMA headquarters. There are 20 Pools where water is actively managed to produce habitat for waterfowl. The area is very popular for bird watching. A wildlife sanctuary of 4,500 acres is closed to all trespassing. There are 57 miles of roads in the WMA, including a 7-mile self-guided auto tour which begins at WMA headquarters and many miles of hiking trails. More information is available at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/wmas/index.html.

Marvin W. Schubring WMA is a 285 acre area that consists mostly of varying age conifer stands scattered with oak woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands. Hiking, hunting and bird watching are common recreational activities within this WMA which boarders the eastern boundary of Typo lake. Sharp-shinned and Coopers Hawks are often seen in the forested portions of this WMA.

Boot Lake SNA is a 600-acre natural area containing a continuum of plant communities featuring mature white pines and a complex of wetland types. Red-shouldered Hawks, Pine Warblers, Northern Waterthrush and a number of other bird species nest on the site. The southwestern part of the area is a posted sanctuary accessible by research permit only. Hiking trails are not developed. More information is available at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snas/index.html.

Cedar Creek Natural History Area is a 2,200-hectare experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Minnesota Academy of Science. Cedar Creek is at the cross roads of three major ecosystems of North America, the western prairies, the northern evergreen forests, and the deciduous forests of the east, resulting in a remarkable combination of plants and animals over a nine-square-mile area. For more information go to: http://www.cedarcreek.umn.edu/about/

Anoka County Parks runs the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Preserve a 5,500 acre park which includes the Wargo Nature Center, Rice Creek Campground, and Centerville Lake Beach. Other amenities include picnic areas, boat launch facilities, biking and hiking trails, playgrounds and a fishing pier. Also Coon Lake Park a 125 acre park that provides various amenities for fishing, hiking and birding, including a public boat launch to Coon Lake known for its northern pike, walleye and bass fishing. Martin-Island-Linwood Lakes Regional Park is a 737 acre park which contains significant undisturbed landscape communities identified in the State's County Biological Survey and remains mostly in a natural state. Facilities include a small picnic area, camping and a rustic beach.

Ornithological Summary

The Carlos Avery IBA contains some of the largest tracts of public land within the Twin Cities seven county metropolitan area and has a variety of intact native plant communities within its boundaries. It has a large diversity of avian species and is important for breeding and migrating birds. A large number of Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in the area along with Lark Sparrows and Eastern Towhees. Avian communities typical of rare and declining Sedge Wetlands, Upland Deciduous forest, and Oak Savannah habitats are found within this IBA.

Conservation Issues

According to the Minnesota DNR natural resource planners the pressure on the Twin Cities Area?s remaining natural lands is intensifying, with one million more people and 500,000 more households coming to the area in the next 30 years. Carlos Avery is within the seven county metropolitan area and has been identified as an important part of the Metro Greenways Conservation Corridors, which is a strategy for accelerating and enhancing habitat protection by targeting limited funds at high-priority areas to better coordinate efforts of conservation organizations.