In Minnesota, where we've been able to enjoy gifts like abundant freshwater, rich biodiversity and productive working lands, we also have a tremendous responsibility. Minnesotans have a responsibility to respect and care for the nature that sustains us so that it may sustain future generations as well. That’s why we’re using our outside voices to speak up for nature—and we invite you to join us!
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How We Use Policy to Advance Conservation
The Nature Conservancy advances policy solutions that work for people and nature in Minnesota. As with our conservation work, our policy recommendations are directly informed by the best science available. Science drives not only how we plan and implement conservation, but also informs our policy positions and our recommendations for how to target conservation funding. We work collaboratively with people from all walks of life, with businesses and industries, and with governments from the local, state and national levels to advance conservation through policy.
We work across borders, aisles and sectors to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Our nonpartisan approach, commitment to science, and collaboration with local partners and colleagues around the state will help us realize a future in which nature and people thrive together. But we can’t achieve that future alone, we need your help!
Get to know our policy priorities in Minnesota, learn how you can use your voice to make a difference, and start speaking up for nature.
Updates from the Capitol
State legislators reconvene for the 2022 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 31, where they will work to pass a capital investment package and determine how to appropriate the state’s historic budget surplus. This year offers a great opportunity to make transformational investments in nature, and we recommend a few ways legislators can support ...
State legislators reconvene for the 2022 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 31, where they will work to pass a capital investment package and determine how to appropriate the state’s historic budget surplus. This year offers a great opportunity to make transformational investments in nature, and we recommend a few ways legislators can support nature this session:
- Preserve Minnesota’s forests by expanding tree planting, increasing tree seedling production, improving forest management and protecting critical natural habitat.
- Invest in rivers and lakes to ensure access to clean drinking water and recreational opportunities while protecting important wildlife habitat.
- Provide communities around the state with resources to handle increased stormwater and more frequent flooding caused by climate change.
- Leverage state budget surplus dollars and capital investment funding to make strides in improving soil health on our natural and working lands, benefitting Minnesota’s farmers, our water and climate.
- Tackle climate change and make our communities more resilient by expanding natural climate solutions and nature-based adaptation strategies.
Be prepared to use your outside voice! Sign up today to receive action alerts so you can speak up for nature.
Our Top Priorities For Nature
Protect Healthy Lands & Waters
The Nature Conservancy is helping to protect dedicated state investments in natural resources and we're working to increase state investments in natural resources through other funding sources.
TNC has long been in the business of protecting important natural areas, and this work has never been more vital. As Minnesota's climate changes, these places will become even more critical as wildlife come to increasingly rely on these natural highways and neighborhoods as they move away from climate threats. These places are also critically important because of the immense amounts of carbon that they can capture and store through natural regeneration.
Learn About Protection
Does protected land contribute to the economy?
Yes! Many of Minnesota's remote and rural communities depend on hikers, hunters and birders passing through their towns, buying fuel, eating at taverns and purchasing those oft-forgot last-minute supplies. We cannot have healthy, prosperous societies if we don’t protect the natural systems on which they depend. Read more about how nature is the investment of our lifetime.
Isn't our water pretty clean already?
A lot of people are surprised to learn that more than half of Minnesota's waters are considered impaired by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The Mississippi River headwaters area is one of special concern for The Nature Conservancy, as this region provides drinking water for about 2.5 million Minnesotans. We’re also working to improve the health of Lake Superior’s tributaries by planting millions of trees in coordination with conservation partners.
Why is biodiversity so important?
Biodiversity underpins every aspect of life on our planet. The food we eat, the air we breathe, our climate—essentially, everything that makes Earth inhabitable—all depends on the interplay of millions of organisms in diverse ecosystems, which have learned to thrive and interact over billions of years. Learn more about biodiversity by watching this video.
What is the Legacy Amendment?
In 2008, voters in Minnesota passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which continues to provide supplemental funding for clean water, parks and trails as well as the arts. Explore places we've protected using Outdoor Heritage funding through the Legacy Amendment.
Tackle Climate Change
Nature is our first line of defense against many climate impacts. That’s why we are working to create systems that store more carbon through natural processes and improve people’s lives in the process. We’re working to incentivize public and private landowners to use practices that store more carbon, like planting trees, improving soil health on agricultural lands, and protecting and restoring our grasslands, wetlands and peatlands.
We are also encouraging the state to enable greater resiliency through nature-based adaptation. These are practices that will prepare natural landscapes for climate change, as well as buffer communities from the worst floods, droughts and other climate impacts.
More on Climate Change in MN
How is climate change affecting Minnesota?
Climate change is already having an enormous impact on our waters, lands, wildlife and people. It's showing up in the form of droughts and dying trees, extreme weather and flooding events, and the compounded effects of both in far too many Minnesota waterways. Read more about climate change in Minnesota.
What is nature's role in tackling climate change?
Nature can provide up to a third of the solution to global climate change. It's inexpensive, scalable and available to us now. But perhaps most importantly, it's an essential part of our climate response. We will not be able to meet global climate targets without nature, which is why we need to start investing in nature-based solutions now. Learn more about nature-based solutions by watching this video.
What are nature-based solutions?
Nature-based solutions are conservation, restoration and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage, avoid greenhouse gas emissions or help nature and people adapt to climate change. Combined with clean energy and other decarbonization efforts, nature-based solutions offer some of our best options to respond to climate change.
Why focus on nature as a climate solution?
In order to effectively tackle climate change in Minnesota, we need an all-of-the-above strategy. Eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and moving toward renewable energy sources is an essential step. It’s also not enough on its own. We need to draw down existing carbon in the atmosphere to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and nature can help us get there. Through photosynthesis, actions as simple as planting more trees can help us reduce carbon in the atmosphere and start taking climate action now.
Farming is a proud Minnesota tradition, and it’s important that we protect our farmland and retain our leadership within the industry. When we make investments in our ag economy, it is critical that we maximize benefits to society like protecting our air, water and soil, as well as our communities and the health of the people who live here
We work with state government agencies to develop innovative projects that will improve impaired waters and prevent further degradation, as well as make sure farmers have the resources they need to implement solutions.
Increased soil health improves productivity, water quality, biodiversity, carbon storage and public health outcomes, but many farmers experience financial and technical barriers to implementing these practices. We need lawmakers' help to drive incentives that will improve soil health on agricultural lands and support Minnesota farmers who are doing right by nature.
Dig Into Regenerative Ag
What is the current footprint of the agriculture industry?
More than half of Minnesota's lands are currently in agricultural production, and most of them don't employ practices that regenerate the health of the soil. That means an outsized risk of erosion and runoff to Minnesota's waters, as well as greenhouse gas emissions due to carbon released from our soils. But this also presents an opportunity to leverage agricultural landscapes to work better with nature's systems. Learn more about sustainable agriculture in Minnesota.
What are soil health practices?
Practices that sequester carbon, increase organic matter and ultimately improve the biological, physical and chemical function of the soil are generally referred to as soil health practices. These include cover crops, reduced tillage, diversified crop rotation, improved nutrient management and edge-of-field strategies that help farms more efficiently hold water and carbon dioxide.
How can we better support farmers and rural communities?
Agencies like the Board of Water and Soil Resources, National Resources Conservation Service, local soil and water conservation districts and partner efforts like All Acres for Our Water all support farmers and ranchers who want to make their operations more sustainable. The emergence of carbon markets and other ecosystem service markets can also help farmers by compensating them for their investments in nature. But in order for these strategies to be scalable, we must ensure adequate and stable funding for these important programs.
How does agriculture intersect with climate change?
Food production has altered our planet more than any other human activity. It accounts for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of all freshwater usage; it is perhaps the single greatest cause of biodiversity loss. But it also provides livelihoods for more than a third of the world’s population. A regenerative food system takes us beyond mere sustainability toward positive growth that benefits our planet and the billions of farmers, fishers, ranchers and others who work to provide our food—without sacrificing the health and dignity of rural people and communities of color. Learn more about regenerative agriculture by watching this video.
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