The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota has played an important role securing public lands that provide recreational opportunities as well as protect the state’s key natural areas.
Nature Conservancy projects have become state parks, wildlife management areas, national wildlife refuges – even a national park. During its more than 50 years of work in the state, The Nature Conservancy has helped conserve more than 650,000 acres of forest, grassland, and freshwater habitat in Minnesota.
The sites described below represent only a fraction of our projects in Minnesota. These are sites where the public is encouraged to visit.
We hope you are inspired to explore them and to join us as a member. Together, we can conserve more of our best lands and waters for everyone's benefit.
After all, this land is YOUR land.
The Nature Conservancy acquired the initial 3,400 acres that formed the nucleus of Tettegouche in 1979, and since then has transferred an additional 5,283 acres (representing the vast majority of the park’s 9,346 acres). Tettegouche is an outstanding example of Lake Superior’s North Shore, and preserves landmarks such as Shovel Point as well as lakes, rivers, Minnesota’s highest waterfall, and forest. The park is popular with hikers, people who like to camp, hike, fish for trout and go cross-country skiing. Learn more
Every fall, birders from all over the world go to Hawk Ridge to see one of the greateast concentrations of raptors in North America - tens of thousands of birds of prey making their way south along the Lake Superior shoreline. In 1972, The Nature Conservancy helped Duluth Audubon protect 91 acres of ridgetop above the city of Duluth. Hawk Ridge now exceeds 300 acres and provides great views of migrating raptors. Learn more
A mosaic of land and water in the north woods near the Canadian border, Voyageurs was first proposed as a national park in 1891. However, the park was not established until 1975, and The Nature Conservancy helped launch the park with a transfer of more than 300 acres to the National Park Service that year. Voyageurs now exceeds 218 million acres, much of it lakes and islands. It is a water-based park and is a popular destination for house boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing, as well as hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Learn more
Park visitors eager to camp, canoe, birdwatch or fish enjoy Glendalough’s prairie, forest and lakeshore (the park includes one of the largest tracts of undeveloped lakeshore in western Minnesota). Owned by the Cowles Media Company (publishers of the Star Tribune) for years, Glendalough was gifted to The Nature Conservancy on Earth Day 1990 and later transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It preserves an excellent example of the original landscape transition from prairie to forest, and is a major waterfowl staging area during migration. Learn more
Nerstrand has been described as an “island of woods” surrounded by oak savanna and prairie (and now farmland); home to more than 200 varieties of wildflowers, including an endemic and endangered dwarf trout lily. This important area is preserved both as a state park and as a Scientific and Natural Area; the Conservancy transferred more than 500 acres during the 1990s to expand the park and establish the SNA. Visitors admire the spring flowers and fall colors in this Big Woods remnant just 45 miles south of the Twin Cities. Learn more
The Glacial Ridge Project is the largest prairie and wetland restoration ever undertaken in the United States. With the help of dozens of partners, The Nature Conservancy protected and restored more than 20,000 acres that now form the core of Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge.The refuge provides habitat for grassland birds that have suffered nesting declines and is a significant stopover point for migrating sandhill cranes. Hunters, birders, and prairie enthusiasts will want to explore this new National Wildlife Refuge. Learn more
Minnesota began establishing Wildlife Management Areas in the 1950s to protect land and waters with high potential for wildlife production and compatible hunting, fishing, or other recreational uses. Today, more than 1 million acres have been set aside throughout the state on more than 1400 Wildlife Management Areas. The Nature Conservancy has helped acquire lands for Wildlife Management Areas such as Little Nokasippi River, Lac Qui Parle, Carlos Avery, and Lamprey Pass. Learn more
In 1969, Minnesota began setting aside Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) – properties that contain significant natural features such as undisturbed plant communities, habitat for rare or endangered species, or representative geologic formations. More than 140 SNAs have been established, and The Nature Conservancy has played a role in more than 50 of them (the Conservancy is the largest giftor of lands to the SNA program of any private organization in the state). Wolsfeld Woods, Agassiz Dunes, and Clinton Prairie are all examples of SNAs the Conservancy helped create. These are all areas open to the public for nature observation. Learn more