Hampton Woods Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Dakota County is one of Minnesota’s newest WMAs. Designated on July 14, 2017, it came about through the collaborative efforts of the Minnesota DNR, Dakota County, Friends of the Mississippi River, and local landowners. It provides protection for the largest contiguous oak forest and one of the largest remaining wooded areas in Dakota County. Surrounded by mostly farm land, it is the only forest for miles and provides critical habitat for migrating birds. The Minnesota Biological Survey gives most of this WMA an Outstanding Biodiversity Significance rank.
There is some new plant growth to be seen this weekend (April 18-19, 2020), including numerous individual wild leeks, small clumps of fragrant bedstraw, small tufts of woodland sedges, large patches of cut-leaved toothwort, and a few lonely bloodroot. The cut-leaved toothwort and bloodroot had unopened buds on Friday, but those buds may produce the first spring flowers on Saturday or Sunday. Seventeen bird species were spotted on Friday, including migrating Yellow-rumped Warbler, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.