Places We Protect

Upper Manitou Forest Preserve Addition


TNC's Upper Manitou Preserve in Minnesota. Land was previously owned by Arctic explorer Will Steeger.
Old-growth white cedar trees TNC's Upper Manitou Preserve in Minnesota. Land was previously owned by Arctic explorer Will Steeger. © Derek Montgomery

The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created to restore, protect and enhance habitat for Minnesota’s fish, game and wildlife.



The Nature Conservancy protected 240 acres of old-growth forest in Lake County, northwest of Minnesota’s George H. Crosby Manitou State Park.

Acquired from renowned polar explorer Will Steger, the property contains old-growth white spruce, white cedar, sugar maple and yellow birch trees. Some of its trees are believed to be older than the state of Minnesota.

The land has been added to the Conservancy’s Upper Manitou Forest Preserve, expanding the preserve’s size to 2,450 acres.

The property, which includes rock outcrops and north-facing slopes that scientists believe will be important refuges for native species in a warming climate, connects the Conservancy’s land to forestland owned by Lake County and the State of Minnesota.

This large forested expanse—part of the headwaters of the Manitou and Baptism rivers, trout streams that flow into Lake Superior—is rated outstanding by the Minnesota Biological Survey due to the variety of life it supports, including wide-ranging mammals like moose and wolves and migratory songbirds such as the black-throated blue warbler. Carolina spring beauty, Canada yew and white baneberry, all rare plants, have also been found on the property and in the surrounding area.

Protection of the property was made possible through contributions from Conservancy supporters and a Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant. The CPL Program, administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, funds projects that restore, enhance, or protect forests, wetlands, prairies and habitat for fish, game and wildlife in Minnesota.

Funding for the CPL Program 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 this property 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.”




240 acres

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SE 1/4 of Section 15, Portions of the NE 1/4 of Section 22, Portions of the NW 1/4 of Section 23, Crystal Bay Township, Lake County; Walk-in access from 91°12’33”W  47°31’4”N   (47.517698  -91.209181)

Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
Minnesota Legacy Logo Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment © 2014 Legislative Coordinating Commission