Conservation groups seek landowners to help permanently protect St. Croix River watershed

Funds to protect high quality wildlife habitat in the St Croix River watershed in Minnesota have been made available through from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund.




2 minute read

Via the St. Croix River Association and Minnesota Land Trust:

Photo by Craig Blacklock via St. Croix River Association

The St. Croix River landscape consists of a collection of pristine ecosystems, ranging from rolling barrens to lush wetland forests. While the St. Croix is a Wild and Scenic River and has some federal protection, it only applies to a small corridor adjacent to the Riverway. 

The St. Croix Watershed Protection project was created to provide an opportunity for private landowners to preserve their land’s natural features. With the help of the local community, this project could protect hundreds of acres of critical habitat for wildlife. The St. Croix River Association and Minnesota Land Trust (MLT) are seeking landowners who want to conserve their forests, lakes, wetlands and river corridors in Pine, Washington, Chisago, Kanabec, Carlton, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Isanti, and Anoka counties.

Applications are being accepted through August 1, 2020 for the first ranking period and December 1, 2020 for the second period. 

The program uses a market‐based and cost-effective approach to acquire conservation easements from private landowners in the St. Croix watershed. Properties that have high ecological value will be prioritized among the applications received. MLT will purchase permanent conservation easements from willing landowners with funding from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or other qualified agency that permanently limits certain uses of land in order to protect its conservation values. 

Landowners continue to own and enjoy the land and pay property taxes. Once created, the conservation easement is binding on all future owners of the property. 

Requirements to apply include land that is at least 40 acres in size and located in the St. Croix Watershed. Help protect our river, woods and wildlife for future generations to enjoy. If you or someone you know is interested, contact MLT for an application. 

To learn more about the program or to apply, contact Bill Penning at 651-262-6403 or, or visit

For more information on forestry in the St. Croix Watershed, contact Nichole Henger at or visit


The St. Croix River Association is the official nonprofit partner for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. We create opportunities for people to experience and care for the St. Croix and the Namekagon Rivers. We work throughout the St. Croix watershed to protect and enhance the National Park that flows through its heart. More information is available at: 

The Minnesota Land Trust is a membership‐based non‐profit conservation organization. Its mission is to protect and restore Minnesota’s most vital natural lands in order to provide wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor experiences and scenic beauty for generations to come. The organization has completed 592 conservation projects statewide, permanently protecting over 60,000 acres of natural and scenic land and over 330 miles of fragile shoreline.


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Conservation groups seek landowners to help permanently protect St. Croix River watershed