With your help, we’ve protected 4,206 acres of Bog for future generations!

Board and Staff visit Big Bog

We visit BIG BOG State Recreation Area…

The One-Mile Bog Boardwalk is quite an experience for our Board and Staff

Bogs are more than birds….It is an entire Ecosystem

On June 7th our Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Board and Staff made the long drive to Big Bog State Recreation Area (SRA) and Bog Boardwalk in Beltrami County near Waskish, Minnesota.
Our goal was to see how the Minnesota DNR interprets a bog habitat and glean some ideas for our own organization.
Park Manager Doug Easthouse was very generous with his time and gave our group a half hour overview of the Big Bog and why it is so important in the landscape of Minnesota (and unique in the entire Lower 48!). It is the largest intact patterned peatland in the lower 48!
We leisurely walked the entire 1-mile boardwalk and made many discoveries along the way.

Our conclusion…

  • A boardwalk allows easy access to a habitat that is very difficult to traverse on foot
  • The boardwalk allows the visitor to concentrate on the flora and fauna without worrying about stepping in a deep hole, tripping on a fallen log, or getting their feet soaked.
  • It would get folks out of their cars and into the great outdoors (into the interior of a bog).

Friends staff and board at the start of the Big Bog Boardwalk: From L to R: Head Naturalist Clinton Nienhaus, Development Director Sarah Beaster, Board Member Ben Yokel, Board Member Julie Ollila, Board Secretary Rubin Stenseng, Board Chair Lori Williams, Board Treasurer David Steininger, Executive Director Sparky Stensaas.

Sharing a find along the Big Bog Boardwalk

Park Manager Doug Easthouse explains the landforms of a patterned peatland using the map of Big Bog that is embossed into the floor of the visitor center.

Rubin hiking the boardwalk. It was designed to protect the bog vegetation…even allowing things to grow UNDER the walkway.

Jutta Arctic butterfly….a rarely seen denizen of open Black Spruce bogs.

The Bog Boardwalk has many interpretive signs along its one-mile path. This stop includes a thermometer showing the temp of the bog 6-8″ below the surface.

Head Naturalist Clinton finds a rarely-seen dragonfly…The Ebony Boghaunter. It was a “lifer” for Clinton and Sparky.

The Ebony Boghaunter up close and personal.


A good looking American Toad

A rare sundew…The Linear-leaved Sundew (Drosera linearis) near the terminal end of the boardwalk. Insects get trapped by the sticky-tipped red “tentacles” and are held fast. The plant responds to the struggling of the insect and folds around the victim forming a type of temporary stomach which dissolves and absorbs nutrients from the body.

Balsam Willow catkins

Jutta Arctic nectaring on a newly-opened flowers of Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum).

Open “taiga” of stunted Black Spruce…Though it doesn’t look like it, this is a true “old-growth forest.”

We also birded some backroads of Beltrami County near Upper Red Lake…It drizzled for awhile but stopped during our bog boardwalk hike.

Board Member Julie Ollila seems to enjoy the diversity of birds we saw…including this next bird…

FOUR American Bitterns flew right by our group…only 20 yards away. A rare sight indeed!

Some of our eagle-eyed group spotted these TINY Small variant of the Yellow Ladyslipper. These have flowering head smaller than a penny (!) and are known appropriately as Small Yellow Ladyslippers (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin).