In September 2007, Minnesota’s Habitat Conservation Partnership announced that it surpassed a significant milestone—the enhancement, restoration, and protection of 100,000 acres of habitat in the state. More than 650 wildlife habitat restoration, enhancement and protection projects have been completed to date, including the Mississippi River Overlook regional park in Baxter, to which The Nature Conservancy contributed.
The Partnership was initially funded by the 2001 Minnesota Legislature, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, to work to restore fragmented landscapes and connect high quality habitat. The mission of the Partnership is to restore, enhance, and conserve habitat for the purpose of sustaining fish, wildlife and native plant communities for all generations.
The goals of the Partnership are:
- Use existing programs to connect fragmented habitats, strengthen migration routes and enhance species' ability to reproduce and survive.
- Improve flood control, erosion control and water quality.
- Leverage additional and new sources of non-state funds to accomplish the partnership mission.
- Enhance hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities.
- Increase public awareness and encourage community involvement.
- Provide additional collaboration between conservation organizations and landowners.
- Establish a new way of implementing conservation that could become a national model
Funding is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and the project partners. "The collaborative effort and seed money from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources [lottery proceeds] have been multiplied over three-fold," said Tom Landwehr, assistant state director for The Nature Conservancy, "We have leveraged these dollars to bring over $65 million in federal and private sources to restore, enhance and protect Minnesota’s grasslands, forests, lakes and streams."
The Conservancy collaborates with other organizations in the Partnership to protect remaining natural wildlife habitat. Projects that the Conservancy has been involved in include Big Woods Heritage Forest, Native Prairie Bank and numerous land protection projects via the Campaign for Conservation.