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The Northern Waters Land Trust (NWLT), formerly the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation, strives to preserve land to protect water in the four-county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Aitkin and Hubbard counties. This area includes not only Leech Lake, but 800 of Minnesota’s 4,500 managed fishing lakes!

Our efforts to become an accredited Land Trust through the national Land Trust Alliance is progressing. We hope by 2020, NWLT will become one of the latest of over 350 accredited land trusts nationwide and only the second in Minnesota. Accreditation means we will have successfully met the rigorous requirements to hold and enforce land protection Conservation Easements in perpetuity and to acquire conservation lands for the benefit of future generations.

To help us complete our name change, rebranding and accreditation process, we’re pleased to announce we have a new Executive Director! Lake Shore resident Kathy Moore brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to NWLT, including an expansive background in advertising, marketing and public relations, as well as fundraising. Learn more about Kathy

We live in one of the most pristine water-rich regions in Minnesota and our work could not be more critical as other regions struggle to remediate their waters. We are home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River–the source water for communities downstream including the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Educating and mobilizing our communities about the importance of protecting and preserving our land and water is what we do. We invite you to work with us as we move into our best work yet!


The Northern Waters Land Trust was recently featured on Lakeland Currents, Lakeland PBS’ local public affairs program. Hosts, Ray Gildow (and current NWLT Board member) interviewed Mary Ackerman, NWLT Board Vice Chair and John Sumption, Land Conservation Specialist.

The Northern Waters Land Trust (formerly the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation) is a regional 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to preserving and protecting the quality of the pristine lakes, rivers, and streams; healthy forests; and critical fish and wildlife habitats of the Leech Lake Watershed and surrounding counties in North Central Minnesota.

By helping landowners protect the “places they love” and promoting individual and community stewardship, a legacy of natural resources is conserved for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.

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Kathy Moore has been hired as the new Executive Director of the Northern Waters Land Trust. She has more than 30 years of marketing communication and project management experience. Moore has managed staff, volunteers and contractors, planned and coordinated budgets, assisted in fundraising efforts, sought and executed millions of dollars in grants. Learn more...


Our website will soon get a new look as we make some exciting changes. Pardon us if some information on these pages is slightly out-of-date. You can always give us a call for any questions at 218-547-4510.


The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is conducting an extensive review of Northern Waters Land Trust’s policies and programs, as a part of the accreditation process.  The national Land Trust Accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.

Your donations help to protect the natural resources that make our region of Minnesota a special place to live, work, and play.