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.
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.
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.