The Nature Conservancy (TNC) protected approximately 656 acres in Clay County. TNC acquired five separate tracts that are located near the Conservancy’s Margherita Preserve–Audubon Prairie and our Bluestem Prairie Preserve, one of the largest and highest quality northern tallgrass prairies in the United States.
Their protection creates an important corridor for prairie wildlife, such as the greater prairie chicken, and it preserves additional habitat for grassland nesting birds, prairie butterflies, and the endangered western prairie fringed orchid that grows nearby.
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 to acquire the properties 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 properties are 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.”
TNC 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.