Preserving the lands and waters you love!

Why Conservation Matters

Fishing Photo_Taylor Knight Photographer (002)

The Big Picture

As a society we are becoming less connected to nature and the outdoors. According to a study from Hofstra University only 30% of children in families they studied played outdoors every day. And, 80% of Americans now live in cities or suburbs which often limits access to nature.

We are developing 6,000 acres of land a day. This development takes land out of its natural state and threatens habitat and migratory flyways.

Forests are the key to supporting the abundant clean lakes and rivers. Our forests hold carbon dioxide which reduces greenhouse gas. This helps to keep emerging climate patterns in check thus shielding us from volatile weather and giving wildlife a chance to adapt. Forests produce oxygen, retain groundwater and reduce runoff to our lakes and rivers. And, our forests are a key recreation destination for all of us.

Clean water is fast becoming a critical resource. The Great Lakes basin holds 90% of the freshwater in the United States. This region supports some of the best fish and wildlife habitats. Over 100 species to protect!

Our Region of Minnesota

The north central region of Minnesota is considered a premier recreational area as it contains some of Minnesota’s most pristine natural resources—lakes, streams, wildlife, wetlands and productive forests. This region is home to more than 2,000 lakes, 3,400 miles of streams and rivers, and a wide variety of pristine aquatic and terrestrial habitat.

Its natural resources attract people to live, work, and enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. The MN DNR designated this area the only portion of the state that still has “good quality lakes that can be protected”. This region contains a high degree of biodiversity that includes:

  • Half of Minnesota’s native muskellunge habitat
  • Over 100 species of fish and wildlife of “greatest conservation need” including 29 on the federal or state endangered or threatened species list
  • The largest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states
  • Healthy loon, deer, bear, grouse, migratory waterfowl, and songbird populations.
  • 48 deep cold-water tullibee (cisco) refuge lakes
  • 391 lakes of biological significance
  • 6 critical watersheds that support life far beyond our boundaries
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Why Conservation is Important to do Now

This region has thousands of acres of public, state, and private forests with hundreds of miles of recreational trails which attract tourism from across the state, country, and the world.

Yet the very character of natural resources that defines the region is also what is beckoning an exploding population growth.

This is one of the fastest growing areas of Minnesota. With many retirees relocating here and remote work becoming more of an option, people are moving to this region drawn by the lure of the water, woods, and wildlife.

Our area is projected to have a 10-20% population growth in the next 25 years so thoughtful development of our land and protection of sensitive land and shorelines is critical.  This region’s challenge is to balance growth with protection of natural resources.

What are the Threats?

According to MN DNR and the US EPA there are 3 Degrees of Stress in MN Lakes:

  • Lakes under Major Stress that mostly cannot be restored (southwestern and central);
  • Lake under stress that restoration is mostly unrealistic (a Central East to West belt);
  • “Good Quality Lakes that can still be protected (Northern and Northeastern.) THIS IS US!

Development and climate change are directly impacting the natural environment in this area.

  • Intensive use for recreation
  • Land use decisions by property owners and local government
  • AIS transported by equipment
  • Poorly managed septic systems
  • Deforestation
  • Ground Water extraction
  • New routes for energy corridors w/o comprehensive environmental impact research
  • Risky use of chemicals – roadway, agricultural, etc.
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Protecting Nature and Ensuring a Sustainable Future

At Northern Waters Land Trust, we are committed to protecting and conserving our natural heritage. By acquiring and protecting land, we strive to prevent further habitat loss, preserve the integrity of our ecosystems, and promote a harmonious relationship between people and nature, fostering a sustainable future for generations to come.

NWLT’s watershed approach to conservation focuses on the ‘big picture’ looking at the whole watershed and the long-term sustainability of healthy ecosystems and good water quality through permanent protection. Impacts of this work are both direct and indirect.

Conservation projects directly impact water quality and wildlife habitat on specific bodies of water, lakefront landowners, and businesses dependent upon quality lakes such as outdoor recreation and tourism.

Indirect outcomes are larger in scale relating to increased resiliency of ecosystems, mitigation of climate change impacts, and quality drinking water for distant communities outside the region.

Land protection ensures the natural heritage of this region is preserved and local economies, dependent on healthy natural resources, are sustained.

Benefits of Conservation

56% of streams and rivers in Minnesota are considered impaired

Water Quality

Potentially dramatic impacts on drinking water resources throughout the region and for communities downstream that source their drinking water from the Mississippi River.

Wildlife Habitat

Conservation minimizes fragmentation of forests and wildlife habitat for healthy aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

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Nature Based Economy

Abundant recreational opportunities that are vitally important to the economy of the region and the wellbeing of its residents and communities.

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Climate Resilience

Healthy, sustainable ecosystems that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change

What You Can Do

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Get Outside

Enjoy the many beautiful open spaces Minnesota has to offer and connect with nature.

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Consider creating a resilient shorelines or placing a conservation easement on your land.

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Help support conservation work in the lakes region. We offer a variety of giving options to help you maximize your impact. Many gifts provide you with tax benefits as well.