With your help, we’ve protected 326 acres of Bog for future generations of birds and birders!

About Friends of Sax-Zim Bog

Contact Us

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog

PO Box 3585
Duluth, Minnesota 55803
Call Sparky for Info: 218.341.3350 or email him at sparky@saxzim.org
E-mail us with questions: info@saxzim.org

Contact Head Naturalist Clinton Nienhaus: naturalist@saxzim.org

Organization Overview

History and Mission

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog (FOSZB) originated in 2010 when Sparky Stensaas realized the biologically diverse habitat of the Sax-Zim Bog, one of the most famous birding areas in North America, was being threatened and needed a voice. Sparky had been birding the Bog since the early 1980s and had recently seen an increase in the logging of mature Black Spruce bogs. These mature old-growth forests are the exact habitat that many of our beloved boreal birds need for nesting and wintering. Sparky along with Dave Benson (Duluth) and Kim Eckert (Duluth) are the “founding fathers” of FOSZB. The founders also felt that in addition to land preservation, the area needed a Welcome Center/Nature Center. FOSZB became a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit in the summer 2011.

Located approximately 40 miles northwest of Duluth, Minnesota in St Louis County, the Sax-Zim Bog draws thousands of birders and photographers from across the country each year. The area is probably most famous for the amazing numbers of wintering Great Gray Owls (up to 100 in the winter of 2004-2005!), and as being the “Arctic Riviera” for rarely-seen northern birds who come south from boreal Canada and the High Arctic to winter in Sax-Zim. The Sax-Zim Bog is also home to uncommon mammals, and supports a diverse wetland flora, including rare orchids.

Most of the Black Spruce-Tamarack bog habitat of Sax-Zim is county tax-forfeited land subject to logging just when the stand is prime for desirable breeding birds such as the Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, and Connecticut Warbler, therefore much of the critical habitat for these rare birds is disappearing. Audubon Minnesota, along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR), designated Sax-Zim Bog as an Important Bird Area (IBA). This designation, although critical, does not assure protection of this important habitat or the biodiversity of its species and so FOSZB has made land purchase and preservation a top priority.

We at FOSZB want this amazing habitat to be around for future generations to experience and enjoy. We also want to educate the public on a biome that is poorly understood and often dismissed as “mosquito-infested swamps.” Friends of Sax-Zim Bog’s mission is to support, promote, and protect the Sax-Zim Bog Important Bird Area (IBA) through land preservation, education, research and communication.

Annual Reports

Meet Us

Board of Directors

  • Lori Williams (board chair)
  • Rubin Stenseng (secretary)
  • Julie Ollila
  • Ben Yokel
  • Dave Steininger (treasurer)
  • Gene Ollila

Staff

  • Sparky Stensaas—executive director
  • Sarah Beaster—development director
  • Clinton Nienhaus—Head Naturalist
  • Heather-Marie Bloom—Welcome Center Host/Naturalist
  • Frank Nicoletti—Welcome Center Host/Naturalist
  • Amy Johnson—Welcome Center Host/Naturalist

Founders

  • Sparky Stensaas
  • Dave Benson
  • Kim Eckert

Volunteers

We are building a web of dedicated volunteers. At the core of this group are Welcome Center Volunteer Hosts Rubin Stenseng, Rich Hoeg, Nancy Fisher and Ben Yokel. And we are adding more every year.

If interested in volunteering, please email info@saxzim.org with your skills and interests in volunteering. Thank you!

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