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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 Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation has an opportunity for landowners to protect our water quality, preserve critical habitat, and receive compensation for keeping this region unique and special. In 2014, we launched our Clean Water Critical Habitat program in partnership with the Minnesota Land Trust and with funding provided from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. With this program, landowners are applying conservation easements on lakeshore and forested parcels near cold-water lakes that are considered some of the best lakes in the region.

Researchers have established a direct correlation between development and declining water quality. Once a lake becomes degraded, attempts at lake restoration are extremely expensive and often ineffective. With this program, we have an opportunity to make wise investments today that will protect your lake and avoid costly challenges that other regions are facing.

We are eager to meet with interested landowners who want to learn more about conservation easements and how preservation of land can protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Here is your opportunity to protect the place you love and receive compensation for doing it.

Deciding to protect your land is a meaningful and important decision. Click on the links for more information. Please contact us with your questions. The application deadline is July 31, 2018.

CWCH Landowner Brochure
CWCH Landowner Application

The Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation (LLAWF) 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.

Blue Bar


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.

Northern Water Aliance

The Foundation is pleased to host the Northern Water Alliance of MN (NWA) as one of our initiatives. The Alliance is a network of organizations and individuals engaged in protecting our northern water resources. The Alliance seeks to educate, mobilize, empower, advocate, and take action around issues and threats to our water. Some of the issues:  Invasive Species (AIS) Pipeline routing, Drinking water, risky agricultural practices and groundwater contamination. The network members are reliable science-based resources for best information and actions. To learn more click on the NWA tab.  MORE...

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

Join our member mailing list and we’ll send you updates about land conservation and LLAWF Events. Click to Join