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Morton outcrop features self-guided tour

MORTON – The public is invited to participate in a community science project Aug. 5-19 in Morton.

The self-guided Bioblitz at Morton Outcrops Scientific & Natural Area (SNA) allows people to visit the site anytime to observe and help identify species from home in an effort to enhance the species list while practicing safe social distancing.

The site at the west end of town next to a motel features a high knob of 3.6 billion year old bedrock. Morton Quartz Monzonite Gneiss is the oldest rock in Minnesota and among the world’s oldest rock.

The rosy-hued Morton Gneiss is a type of crystalline granite with bands of white quartz, pine and grey feldspar, black biotite and amphibole.

The rock was exposed when the torrent of glacial River Warren formed the Minnesota River Valley about 10,000 years ago, scouring through glacial drift of the Des Moines lobe and underlying cretaceous sediments to reveal the ancient bedrock.

Rock potholes at the site are a testament to the time when all was submerged by the swirling waters of River Warren.

The 15-acre site is located in the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 71 and Minnesota Highway 19. Participants can park near the woods in the east side of the parking lot.

Hike northeast into the site, look for footpaths through the brush to the outcrops. There may be some dragonfly species near the SNA ponds. Observations of dragonflies are encouraged.

To participate, sign up on iNaturalist by joining the Morton Outcrops SNA Self-guided Bioblitz 2020 project. Check the project journal posts for event updates, guidelines and tips before visiting the site.

Please wear study footwear, long pants tucked into socks to prevent tick bites and poison ivy contact, and be prepared to navigate rough and overgrown terrain. Wear lightly-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily. The site has no official trails.

Bring snacks, water, a hand lens, binoculars, notebook, field guides, sun screen, bug spray, a hat, and a boot brush.

Bird and wildlife watching, hiking and photography are allowed. Dogs, motorized vehicles, biking, hunting and camping are not allowed.

Download a detailed map at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/snas/detail_maps/02051.pdf

For more information, visit www.mndnr/gov/snas/events.html; https://www.facebook.com/MinnesotaDNR. Email SNA Volunteer Outreach Specialist Kari Wallin at kari.wallin@state.mn.us.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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