Who We Are
Our unique region will have clean lakes, rivers, wetlands and forests that support a diversity of fish and wildlife. We will leave this legacy for future generations by working with an educated, mobilized community and trusted conservation partners.
To preserve land to protect water.
The Northern Waters Land Trust -- NWLT (formerally theLeech Lake Area Watershed Foundation) is a non-profit charitable 501(c)(3) organization working in the north central Minnesota in Counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard and Aitkin primarily within the Leech Lake watershed to protect water quality and preserve environmentally sensitive lands and waters: shoreland; streams; fish and wildlife habitats; wetlands; key forest tracts; and scenic vistas.
Our conservation efforts focus on an area that encompasses 4 major watersheds: the Upper Mississippi River, Leech Lake River, Pine River, and the Crow Wing River.
Our service area is over 4.2 Million Acres and includes 1,941 lakes. It is an incalculable beauty, rich in natural resources with a high degree of biodiversity. This region is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and is the source water for communities downstream including St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.
Since 1997, the NWLT has protected more than 3,200 acres and 23 miles of environmentally sensitive shoreland working with landowners, numerous lake associations, local, state, federal and tribal agencies, and other conservation organizations.
Our Service Area is in the heart of Minnesota’s prime recreational region where the economic sustainability of local communities is driven by tourism, hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities that are predicated on high quality natural resources. It is also one of the fastest growing areas of Minnesota where state demographers predict a population growth of up to 50% by 2030.
The challenge for the future of this region is to balance growth with the protection of natural resources. While our region is home to the Chippewa National forest and State Forests, a significant number of privately owned parcels in both the riparian and shorelands around high quality recreational lakes are still undeveloped or minimally developed and large tracts are still intact. However, the threat from development is real. The urgency for land conservation is immediate to ensure that the natural heritage of this region is preserved.