Places We Protect

Moe Woods


in the Ordway-Glacial Lake landscape of Minnesota.
Lake at TNC's Moe Woods Preserve in the Ordway-Glacial Lake landscape of Minnesota. © Mark Lissick/Coldsnap Photography

The prairie/forest transition is clearly illustrated at this preserve.



The prairie/forest transition is clearly illustrated at this preserve. Tall grasses blend into oak savanna at the ecological interface. Beyond, visitors are led into a maple-basswood forest with a fully intact canopy, a vital habitat for forest song birds.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Moe Woods represents a significant remnant of a mesic hardwood forest surrounded by a prairie. Very few deciduous forest sites of this size remain in this portion of the state.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy purchased 120 disparate acres of the forest in 1971 from the Moe family, who purchased it from the government in the 1860s. Since then, TNC has purchased another 48 acres of adjacent properties, creating a preserve in two parcels: 120 acres in the north and 48 in the south. All of the forest has been logged and grazed at some point. Fifteen landowners have registered 406 acres with The Nature Conservancy, while promising not to damage or develop the forested acres surrounding the preserve.




312 acres

Explore our work in this region

Moe Woods Preserve has no trails, and its boundaries are not completely marked. Do not attempt to visit the preserve unless you have a topographical map (or aerial photo or both), a compass, and orienteering experience. Be careful not to trespass on adjacent private land. There is no public access to the southern portion of the preserve because it is completely surrounded by private land. For more information on visiting this and other Minnesota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

What to See: Plants

A large patch of forest persists deep within the transition zone between forest and prairie. It is classified as a maple-basswood forest, but sugar maples, which usually dominate both the canopy and the understory of these forests, are nearly absent. American basswood is the dominant tree species. American elm is also commonly found here, while ironwood is a common understory tree. Oaks, black cherries, and green ash are scattered throughout the forest. Herbaceous species include ferns, wild leeks, red baneberry, showy orchis, and yellow lady's slipper.

What to See: Animals

This preserve is home to various forest song birds (species vary by season).