Preserving the lands and waters you love!

About NWLT

Our Mission

Preserve land to protect water


Our Vision

Our unique region will have clean and resilient 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 engaged community and a diversity of conservation partners.

Our Values


Integrity and Excellence

We will meet the highest ethical and professional standards. We will be honest, accountable and earn trust by building collaborative relationships, being competent, and following through on all commitments.


Develop, analyze and use the best available conservation science to set priorities, make decisions, take action and measure results. We will conduct our business in an environmentally sensitive manner and use our local knowledge and creative approach to result in maximum positive conservation outcomes.

IMG_2515 (1)
Kids in water

Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Teamwork and Diversity

We believe that enduring conservation success depends on the active involvement of people and partners whose lives and cultures are linked to natural systems we seek to conserve. We believe conservation is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of diverse back-grounds, beliefs, and cultures. We work collaboratively with all sectors of society. We respect a variety of viewpoints and diversity of thought. We work in an environment that encourages each of us to achieve our potential and values the contribution of all.

Our Team & Leadership


Our Team

Northern Waters Land Trust has a team of professionals who specialize in land protection, community engagement, and collaboration. NWLT staff work closely with the board of directors, committees, partner organizations, and community members to protect our lands and waters.

Meet our Team

Our Board

Northern Waters Land Trust is managed by an actively engaged team of volunteer Board of Directors members who serve 3-year terms. Board members come from various backgrounds, and all have a desire to preserve some of the most biologically significant lands and waters in Minnesota. Board roles include organizational governance, providing insight on the projects NWLT is working on, public speaking, fundraising, and outreach.

Meet our Board of Directors

Turtles Sunning on Log_Elizabeth Mboutchom


Northern Waters Land Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the natural environment in northern Minnesota. We protect land to preserve water quality, wildlife habitats, and scenic landscapes.

Operating across a vast area with 6 major watersheds, we work to safeguard the natural resources in a region that contains over 2,000 lakes and more than 3,400 miles of rivers. This region is also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River which provides drinking water for communities downstream including St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

We collaborate with landowners, government agencies, sovereign nations, and other organizations on donations, conservation easements, and partnerships to protect the lands and waters of the region. Our work is vital in sustaining local communities driven by tourism, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. We strive to balance growth with the protection of natural resources to preserve the region's heritage for current and future generations.

Fall colors on the water_Lake Itasca

Our Methods of Conservation

We work with landowners, lake associations, government agencies, civic groups, and other nonprofits to conserve forestland, wildlife habitat, shorelines, water resources, and scenic vistas in the heart of Minnesota's lakes area.

Fall photo_Lake Benedict_Annie Photographer

Conservation Easements

NWLT works with landowners to help them place conservation easements on their land to ensure it is protected into the future.

Learn more >

Cabin Workshop 2023_Presenter Laura Hansen

Community Outreach

Through educational outreach efforts, NWLT works with community members to understand how we each have a role in protecting our water resources.

Learn more >


Land Transfers

NWLT helps families meet their conservation goals through the conveyance of land to government agencies for long-term protection and management.

Learn more >



Where We Work

Northern Waters Land Trust works in the watersheds of north central Minnesota. Learn more >

Cross Lake Recreation area_loon on Water

Our Programs

NWLT has several conservation programs to help you protect the lands and waters of northern Minnesota. We also offer a variety of educational programming. Learn more >

Benedict Sunset 2_Annie Photographer

Our History

Formerly the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation, the organization has expanded to protect water quality in lakes and rivers, and fish and wildlife habitat throughout the region. In 2018, the name was changed to Northern Waters Land Trust.



Northern Waters Land Trust is an accredited land trust through the Land Trust Alliance accreditation process. Learn more >

Our Committees


Land Conservation Committee

The Conservation Committee oversees and implements the organizations’ land conservation work in accordance with its mission, strategic plan, and all current land transaction and corporation policies.


Deb Campbell - Cedar Lake

Development & Outreach Committee

The Development & Outreach Committee organizes educational workshops, engages in community outreach, and oversees fundraising for the organization.


Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee is a group of experts, who identify land protection projects and advise advise on scoring methodology.


What is a land trust?

Land trusts are closely tied to the communities they protect and are involved in conserving land for its natural features and resources, as well as historical, cultural, scenic, and recreational values. Land trusts are organized at the local, regional, and state level and receive their funding primarily from charitable contributions and sometimes from state and federal initiatives.

They preserve land by purchasing it, transferring it, accepting donations of land or funds to purchase the land, or accepting the donation of a conservation easement. In instances, they may purchase the easement. Often, land trusts work collaboratively with other local conservation organizations to preserve properties that have significant conservation value.

Northern Waters Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and an accredited Land Trust.

Contributions are tax-deductible.