Thank You for Investing in Nature
We are at a serious crossroads for this planet and her many inhabitants. As we face the biggest challenges of our lifetimes, climate change and biodiversity loss, action has never been more important. Every acre we can conserve, every species we can save, every community we can help—it all makes a difference for our shared future. Thank you for joining us in this work and for investing in the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Keep scrolling to explore some of the conservation wins you made possible in 2023!
Buffalo Head Home to Tribal Lands
To support Indigenous-led conservation, food sovereignty and restoration of cultural traditions, The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) and Tanka Fund again this year. This fall, a Native Nation in North Dakota received about 25 buffalo from Cross Ranch Preserve, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe received 70 buffalo from TNC herds in Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa. Through ITBC and Tanka Fund, more than 600 buffalo from TNC preserves are being returned to Native Nations and Native ranchers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Making the Business Case for Soil Health
The Nature Conservancy and the Ecosystem Services Marketing Consortium launched a pilot project in 2020, enlisting farmers to help tackle climate change and improve water quality. This year enrollment surged, with farmers signing up 50,000 acres of cropland. Participating farmers are reducing tillage and growing cover crops, allowing farm lands to store more carbon in the ground and reduce the amount of fertilizer running off into our rivers, lakes and streams. Your support of TNC's "Our Water" campaign made this success possible.
Solar-Powered and Expanded Whitney Preserve
In a bid to safeguard habitat and preserve vital migratory corridors for wildlife, The Nature Conservancy expanded its Whitney Preserve by 180 acres this year. Now that the preserve has been expanded, a relatively untouched 42,000-acre wildlife corridor within the Black Hills will remain intact. TNC has also reduced its carbon footprint by installing 48 solar panels on a multipurpose building on the preserve that houses offices and meeting space. The solar panels are expected to generate enough power on average to meet the annual electricity needs of the facility after energy conservation efforts, like better building insulation. Explore how renewable energy is powering our Whitney Preserve.
Restoring and Diversifying Forests and Prairies
Restoring forests and prairies is key to mitigating some of the worst effects of climate change. Before we can plant more trees and prairie plants, we need more seed. A lot more. We are working with university and nonprofit partners including Urban Roots, along with Native Nations and local, state and federal agencies to dramatically ramp up tree seed collection and seedling production around the state. The goal is to establish a new cooperative of seedling producers who will grow 5 million additional seedlings over the next four years. Staff from The Nature Conservancy and our partners have also harvested 96 tons of seed this year from native plants for prairie restoration in Minnesota.
Building Resilient Forests
With your support, we planted more than 1.4 million climate-adapted trees this year alone. Our goal is to ensure our future forests can better withstand increasingly warmer, drier weather, pests and diseases. Planting a mix of species including white pine, white cedar and yellow birch, The Nature Conservancy is helping build diversity and resilience in the Northwoods. Of the trees planted in 2023, about 32,000 were planted alongside Highway 61 and rivers that flow into Lake Superior. TNC is also helping maintain forest health using controlled burns, which clear out underbrush and dead and dying trees, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. TNC burned more acres in two Minnesota state parks this year than had been burned in the past decade.
Restoring Prairie Streams in Western South Dakota
In western South Dakota, our conservation teams are working hard to repair watersheds and restore natural hydrology in prairie streams. This includes installing human-made structures that mimic the function of natural beaver dams to stop erosion and restore floodplains. Through 2022, teams installed 146 riparian structures, including beaver dam analogues, for the purpose of holding and slowing down water along a total of 12.5 river miles. This restoration work benefits fish, wildlife and ranching communities alike while making the surrounding areas more resilient to climate impacts like drought and wildfire.
A Historic Investment in Conservation
In May, Minnesota legislators passed a groundbreaking environment, energy and climate bill. The Nature Conservancy worked alongside partners and coalitions to advocate for policies in the bill protecting land and water, and tackling climate change. TNC supporters joined in, sending 500 letters to their Minnesota legislators during the 2023 session advocating for these priorities. Legislators wrote a historic level of investment for conservation into law, including more than $250 million for natural climate solutions—actions that protect, manage and restore nature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon. The legislature also passed a bill that will let voters decide whether to renew the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund on the November 2024 ballot. The fund provides more than $80 million per year for initiatives that enhance Minnesota’s natural resources and environment.
Supporting Private Land Owners with Conservation Strategies
TNC is working with partners to improve landowners’ ability to maintain Dakota grasslands with fire and grazing, and to combat invasive species. With TNC’s help, the South Dakota Grassland Coalition led a fire school for 100 participants. The coalition also offers grazing school and invasive plant identification tours. In North Dakota, TNC staff teamed up with other nonprofits to offer fire training for landowners.