Conservation Program Area

Mississippi Headwaters

Stretching across 6 counties and 1,960 square miles, the Minnesota Land Trust’s Mississippi Headwaters program area contains the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca and over 1,000 separate lakes. Protecting the water quality of the Mississippi River as it stretches for over 2,350 miles starts at the headwaters, and the Minnesota Land Trust has a goal of protecting an additional 5,000 acres in the headwaters by 2027 as part of our 10-year Conservation Agenda.

The area boasts an impressive array of wildlife and plants, and two in particular—wild rice and tullibee fish—are important bellwethers of water quality in the lakes that make up the watershed. This is also one of the most important areas in our state for red-shouldered hawks, and habitat for red-necked grebe, wolf, loons, and trumpeter swans.

Current Grant Opportunities:

    Explore Projects in this Area

    Aerial photo of protected property showing lakes and forest

    Protecting Pancake Lake in the Mississippi Headwaters

    The Minnesota Land Trust has protected beautiful, undeveloped Pancake Lake in Cass County, MN, and a portion of Boy River, which connects seven deep, tullibee-supporting cold water lakes in the Mississippi Headwaters region of Minnesota. Pancake Lake is surrounded by 222 acres of undeveloped hardwood forest and wetlands, including forested peatlands, bog, and wet meadows, [...]

    Increasing a wildlife habitat complex

    Nestled between the expansive Chippewa National Forest and beautiful Land O’Lakes State Forest lies Thunder Lake, a quickly developing lake in Cass County. A lake with high water quality, Thunder Lake is home to iconic Minnesota species like the common loon. Thanks to the generosity of Bruce Steiner and his family, 49 acres of natural [...]

    Protected Property

    Shoreline of Camp Patmos, Stony Lake

    Stony Lake Shoreline Protected Forever

    The Leech Lake area has seen increased development in the past few years as families seek a high-quality rural living experience. That increased development at times has come at the expense of Minnesota’s remaining natural lands and clean waters. Local families and landowners, however, have stepped up to protect the places that matter most, working [...]

    Featured Protected Property

    Star Lake

    Star Lake Camp Protected Forever

    In the Mississippi Headwaters region of central Minnesota lies Star Lake Camp, an expansive natural landscape which has introduced hundreds of youth to nature in its nearly 60 years of existence. First established in 1962 by the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the camp has served as an extension of the Church’s [...]

    Featured Protected Property

    Lily pads and flowers in a northern Minnesota lake

    Protecting the Outdoors for Future Generations—YMCA Camp Olson

      When E.O. Olson donated the land near Longville that would become YMCA Camp Olson in 1954, he inscribed these words on the dedication plaque: “One man may not live to see his dreams come true, but his institutions carry on. We hope the Young Man’s Christian Association will preserve in this camp a paradise [...]




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