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Bison herd arrives in Afton June 6

On Saturday, June 6, the Belwin Conservancy is hosting its seventh bison release. Guests will experience the energy as a herd of about 30 bison are released into a 120 acre restored prairie on Division Street in Afton, Minn. The herd will spend four months free-range grazing on protected Belwin Conservancy land. This free, fun, family-friendly event begins at 11 a.m.

The release of the bison occurs promptly at noon.

Beginning in 2008 and every summer since, the Belwin Conservancy has welcomed a herd of bison, owned by NorthStar Bison in Rice Lake to its protected nature preserve in Afton.

The bison are an important resource for the ongoing work of restoring the native prairie landscape. Their unique grazing patterns and behaviors have influenced the composition of plant and animal species on the prairie. The presence of the bison changes the physical and chemical environment. This increases the diversity of prairie plants, triggering other changes in the prairie’s ecosystem.

Two observation platforms offer spectators a superb panoramic view of the bison and prairie. This public viewing area is located on Division Street near Stagecoach Trail South in Afton, and remains open daily from dawn till dusk until the bison leave in the fall.

Conservationists from the Belwin Conservancy will be on hand to explain the behaviors of bison and their impact on the biodiversity of the prairie. Refreshments will be on sale from Afton Alps food truck.

Art Project

Adults and children are invited to participate in a fun, hands-on art project on Saturday. This project is being led by The Phipps Center for the Arts in conjunction with What We Need is Here, an arts collaborative.

Parking for the event is at the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields located at 15601 Hudson Road, West Lakeland, Minn. Guests can enjoy a short walk through the prairie to the bison release site or hop aboard a free ride on the Belwin Conservancy’s Bison Buggy. Limited parking nearer the release site on Division Street is available for those who require special access.

Belwin Conservancy is a member-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is inspiring our connection to the natural world. Its 1,364-acre preserve in Afton is home to Belwin Outdoor Science and the Joseph J. Casby Observatory which houses one of the finest telescopes in Minnesota. It is also a leader in prairie and oak savanna restoration.

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