This IBA is approximately 3 hours north of the Twin Cities metro area. This area includes a mixture of state, county, private land, the Cloquet Valley State Forest, Whiteface River State Forest, the Sax, and two units of the Zim Wildlife Management Area.
Level to gently rolling topography are characteristic of this region. The largest landform is a lake plain. Soils include extensive areas of peat over both fine-textured and sandy lacustrine deposits. This site includes sledge meadows, lowland brush and hayfields. There are stemless lady's slippers and other species of bog vegetation including sundew, pitcher plant, leatherleaf and bog birch.
This well known wintering area for Great gray owls, Northern hawk owls, and Rough-legged hawks is an ideal habitat for more than 240 species of migrant and breeding birds. Summer months bring Wilson's snipe and Yellow-bellied and Alder flycatchers. Warblers are in abundance and include Connecticut, Black-throated green, Magnolia, Cape May, Canada, Blackburnian, Palm, and Black-and-white warblers. You will also find Lincoln's sparrow, Pine grosbeak, Boreal chickadee, Gray jay, Northern waterthrush, Sedge wren, Black-billed cuckoo, Sandhill cranes, White-winged crossbill, and LeConte's sparrow. Four records of nesting Yellow rails have been recorded since 1993.
Other wildlife native to the Sax-Zim area include black bear, moose, beaver, deer, pine martens, and timber wolves.