The Nature Conservancy protected 160 acres in Polk County within the Tallgrass Aspen Parkland landscape. The property adjoins Belgium WMA and contains grassland, wetlands and a remnant of a high and distinct beach ridge formed by ancient Glacial Lake Agassiz.
The protection of Belgium Prairie ensures continuity to nearby natural areas, including grasslands and marsh. Greater prairie chickens, sharp-tail grouse, muskrats, mink, river otter and water birds including coots, ducks and trumpeter swans rely on such habitat.
The Nature Conservancy acquired the land under its Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project, an effort to protect native prairie and savanna and restore thousands of acres of degraded prairie and prairie wetland habitat.
Funding for the property was provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, through an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The property is open to the public for hiking, photography and bird-watching. The Minnesota State Constitution requires all properties purchased with Outdoor Heritage Fund dollars to be open to the public taking of fish and game during the open season. As a result, hunting, trapping and fishing are allowed on these properties in accordance with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Areas rules published in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.
Many of the properties purchased through the project are adjacent to private lands that are not open for public hunting. Please restrict hunting and fishing activities to only those lands clearly marked with signage showing they are “Open to Public Hunting.”
The Conservancy manages Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project properties using strategies including prescribed fire, conservation grazing, and the removal of encroaching trees and brush. These methods will benefit wildlife, preserve clean water and provide recreational opportunities.