Important Bird Areas

Camp Ripley-Pillsbury-Lake Alexander IBA

Minnesota

The Camp Ripley-Pillsbury-Lake Alexander IBA is located in central Minnesota approximately 100 miles northwest of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and within Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing counties. The Mississippi, Crow Wing and Gull rivers are significant water features within the landscape. This IBA encompasses an area of 155,432 acres. Public land areas within this IBA include Camp Ripley Military Reservation, Crow Wing County lands (1,693 acres), Cass County lands (7,465 acres), Pillsbury State Forest, Crow Wing State Park, the eastern portion of Meadowbrook Wildlife Management Area, the Little Nokasippi River State Wildlife Management Area and Lake Alexander Woods Scientific & Natural Area. The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota Power & Light also own land within the boundaries of this IBA.

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Ornithological Summary

The Camp Ripley-Pillsbury-Lake Alexander IBA supports the greatest known concentration of nesting Red-shouldered Hawks (a state listed Special Concern Species) in the state. Habitat consists of relatively large blocks of upland deciduous and riparian forests. In addition, 228 species of birds have been documented at Camp Ripley (Appendix A) since monitoring started in 1991. This includes 28 documented species of warblers, including 12 known breeding season species, including one of the most northerly reports of the Hooded Warbler.

Other listed species found within this IBA include the Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Yellow Rail, and Louisiana Waterthrush.

Another important feature within this IBA is the 21 miles of the Mississippi River and 27 miles of major tributaries (Crow Wing and Gull Rivers), which provide important riparian corridors and migration pathways.

Conservation Issues

Agricultural intensification/expansion
The surrounding area continues to be cleared for agriculture, road and trail construction and the building of houses and cabins.

Cellular/wind towers/power lines
Cellular towers continue to be erected in this area and can be a hazard for migrating birds, along with numerous powerlines. DNR is working to keep new towers out of migratory corridors, and to keep tower heights low to avoid need for lighting and guy wires.

Construction/ impact of dike/ dam
Two hydropower dams occur along the Crow Wing River. They may require future repairs, and reservoir operation plans could change in the future.

Deforestation
Private lands continue to be cleared for agriculture, roads and residential development, which may result in the displacement of Red-shouldered Hawks and other forest species.

Disturbance to birds
Increasing development within this area contributes to the loss of critical habitat for birds by fragmentation and displacement of species. The military training within Camp Ripley may cause disturbance to birds, however, during the Bald Eagle?s nesting season buffer zones of 400 meters from the nests are enforced both on land and in the air. During the remainder of the year, there is a 200 meter buffer zone around the nests, offering protection during the critical nesting period.
Extraction industry
There is a significant sand and gravel mining industry along Highway 210 that bifurcates the Camp Ripley portion from the Pillsbury State Forest portion of the IBA. Strong economic growth in the area continues to fuel demand for sand and gravel. New pits are opened as old ones close, or are required closer to areas of demand.

Industrialization/urbanization
The private lands surrounding this IBA are sprawling with development due to tourism and the continued popularity of the Brainerd lakes area. The public land areas are relatively safe from development.

Ownership

The Camp Ripley-Pillsbury-Lake Alexander IBA is located in central Minnesota approximately 100 miles northwest of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and within Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing counties. The Mississippi, Crow Wing and Gull rivers are significant water features within the landscape. This IBA encompasses an area of 155,432 acres. Public land areas within this IBA include Camp Ripley Military Reservation, Crow Wing County lands (1,693 acres), Cass County lands (7,465 acres), Pillsbury State Forest, Crow Wing State Park, the eastern portion of Meadowbrook Wildlife Management Area, the Little Nokasippi River State Wildlife Management Area and Lake Alexander Woods Scientific & Natural Area. The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota Power & Light also own land within the boundaries of this IBA