Minnesota

Mudro Lake, Superior National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Ely, MNPhoto credit: Darcy Kiefel

The Trust for Public Land protects the places people in Minnesota care about.

From parks in Minneapolis and Saint Paul to the rivers, woods, and prairies of Minnesota, we don't just save land – we save land for people to enjoy.

Our mission is to create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Every park, playground, or public space we help create is an open invitation for everyone to explore, wonder, discover, and play.

Local offices

2610 University Avenue, Suite 300 | St. Paul, Minnesota  55114
Phone: (651) 917-2240 | Email Address: minnesota@tpl.org

Minnesota projects

Highlighted Projects:

Parks for People -Twin Cities

The Trust for Public Land works with communities large and small to put a park, trail, or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every Twin Cities resident. At The Trust for Public Land we work to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the multiple benefits of parks and natural space.

Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex, MN

The Big Rivers program works to protect or reclaim lands within the Mississippi, St. Croix and Minnesota Rivers watersheds to provide important recreational resources, safeguard drinking water, and support critical habitat.

Northwoods Initiative. Photo: William Poole

The Trust for Public Land established the Northwoods Initiative to protect the iconic landscapes of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Projects (sorted alphabetically):

Allemansratt Wilderness Park, Minnesota

In 2010, The Trust for Public Land protected an additional 64 acres for Allemansrätt Wilderness Park in Lindstrom. In 2014, we helped add the Lake Cabin, an emigrant house from the 1890s, and a 30-acre peninsula with beautiful lakefront views.

Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex, MN

The Big Rivers program works to protect or reclaim lands within the Mississippi, St. Croix and Minnesota Rivers watersheds to provide important recreational resources, safeguard drinking water, and support critical habitat.

Blakeley Bluffs, MN

The Trust for Public Land worked with the state Department of Natural Resources to protect 128 acres of Blakeley Bluffs as an addition to the Ney Wildlife Management Area.

Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota. Photo: Peter Crouser

In the Brainerd Lakes area, The Trust for Public Land led an effort to purchase a working forest conservation easement over 4,776 acres of prime forestland owned by the Potlatch Corporation.

Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, MN

The Trust for Public Land led the effort to transform a 27-acre industrial site located in St. Paul's East Side into a park and nature sanctuary in honor of late Congressman Bruce Vento.

Burntside Lake, Minnesota. Photo: Darcy Kiefel

The Trust for Public Land purchased Long Island in Minnesota's Burntside Lake, at the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and across from Listening Point, which inspired conservation writer Sigurd Olson.

Camp Ojiketa, Minnesota. Photo: El Randels/Ojiketa Preservation Society

TPL helped project Camp Ojiketa, a popular camp area, as a regional park, owned and managed by Chisago City.

Walking in The Trust for Public Land's Koester Prairie., 2014, MN, Cannon Rivers Koester Prairie

The Trust for Public Land is working to conserve critical habitat around the Cannon River, less than an hour’s drive south of the Twin Cities. This region has recently suffered loss and fragmentation of wildlife habitat due to development and intensive agriculture.

Caponi Art Park, Minnesota

Artists Anthony and Cheryl Caponi created a unique "art park" on their 60 acres of rolling meadows and woodlands in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan, Minnesota.

Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Minnesota. Photo: Allen Brisson-Smith

TPL has helped protect over 500 acres across from the existing 434-acre Rum River Central Regional Park that will eventually open as the Cedar Creek Conservation Area in Anoka County.

Photo of a grass field and circle lake

Over the years, the Cannon River Watershed, south of the Twin Cities, has lost significant wildlife habitat to agriculture and development. The Trust for Public Land’s acquisition and conveyance of 160-acres to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of the new Circle Lake State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is part of a larger effort to protect wildlife habitat in the watershed while creating new opportunities for public recreation. Located on the north shore of Circle Lake, the WMA includes high-quality marshlands, rolling upland forests, and grassy knolls with views of the lake. Less than an hours’ drive from the Twin Cities, Circle Lake WMA provides new public access to the lakeshore and adjacent lands for fishing, waterfowl hunting, and exploration.

Hunter with dog near Minnesota lake.

The Trust for Public Land helped create a new conservation area in northeast Anoka County—providing sport hunters with a new outdoor resource just 20 minutes from the Twin Cities

Photo of man walking around exploring Coney Island

Located only 30 miles southwest of Minneapolis, in Lake Waconia, "Coney Island of the West" is a relic of the days gone when city dwellers vacationed at nearby lake resorts. Beginning in the late 19th century, hotels, cabins, and dancehalls on the island attracted visitors from near and far. Today, only the crumbled remnants of these structures remain, overwhelmed by resurgent nature.

Photo of Crow Wing River

This state wildlife management area (WMA) along the Crow Wing River offers exceptional public recreation while providing significant water-quality benefits. Extending more than three miles along this major Mississippi River tributary, the WMA's mixed pine and hardwood forest is a great place to hunt, fish, observe wildlife, or go canoeing.

Photo of two people walking in a forest

Crow Wing State Forest South Addition, in the Brainerd Lakes region, is a popular recreation area that also provides critical habitat for wildlife. Particularly important, for both recreation and wildlife, is land along the Mississippi River, which threads the state forest.

Photo of Crystal Spring

Located only 30 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, Crystal Spring Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) offers the region's 3.3 million residents a close-to-home opportunity to experience unique flora and fauna. Acquired with help from The Trust for Public Land in 2015, this 38-acre, state-owned SNA encompasses significant biodiversity, thriving communities of native plants, and habitat for several rare species of birds and plants. The SNA's dramatic geologic features include a scenic waterfall, steep rocky cliffs, a winding cold-water stream, thick old forests, and panoramic views of the National Wild and Scenic St. Croix River.

Dead Lake, Minnesota. Photo: Braun Intertec

For years, a battle raged between local conservation-minded landowners and would-be developers of over 260 acres of Dead Lake shoreline. Proposed development included 151 residential housing units, a general store, a restaurant, two swimming pools, a marina, and mooring facilities.

Cannon River, Minnesota

In fall of 2011, The Trust for Public Land conveyed 510 acres near the headwaters of the Cannon River to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which will be managed as the new Dora Lake Wildlife Management Area.

East Rush Lake, Minnesota

TPL helped conserve 670-acres for the East Rush Lake Wildlife and Aquatic Management Area in rapidly growing Chisago County.

Photo of a man walking through a field

Located in Le Sueur County between Gorman Lake and Lake Olney, Factor State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) provides rich habitat for waterfowl, deer, pheasant and turkeys. The Trust for Public Land acquired and conveyed 53 acres to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to enlarge the WMA.

Franconia Bluffs, Minnesota

Conservationists had been keeping a close watch on the nearly 50 acres overlooking the St. Croix River valley and the village of Franconia, when TPL stepped in to work with partners in the Metro Conservation Corridors program, which protects natural areas and water quality in the rapidly developing metro region in Chisago County.

Frogtown Park and Farm

In 2013, we worked with the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation to secure 12.7 acres in the heart of the neighborhood and transfer it to the city. Now, we're raising funds to help transform the site into a recreation area, nature sanctuary, and demonstration farm operated by local nonprofit Frogtown Farm.

Listening Point and Long Island on Burntside Lake, Boundary Waters, MN

In 2013 The Trust for Public Land protected Gaul Island as an addition to the Burntside Islands Scientific and Natural Area. Like Long Island, which we helped protect in 2008, the island is part of the viewshed from Sigurd Olson's historic Listening Point.

Grand Marais Minnesota breakwaters

Nestled on the rugged North Shore of Lake Superior, the village of Grand Marais has provided a unique and inspirational setting for recreation, the arts, and community gatherings for generations of residents and visitors. In 2001, we helped the community realize its dream of a unified and protected public shoreline along the city's historic harbor.

Photo of two sisters in a forest

In 2018, The Trust for Public Land added 116 acres near Howard Lake to the Grass Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Wright County, Minnesota, within an hour’s drive of Twin Cities’ residents. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages WMAs for wildlife habitat and public recreation.

Gray's Bay/Lake Minnetonka Shoreline, Minnesota

Since the 1980s, public agencies and recreationists have sought to improve public access to Lake Minnetonka, a popular boating and fishing lake 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Several years ago, the owner of the private Gray's Bay Marina and Resort decided to retire.

Green space along the Metro Trail light rail lines.

The Trust for Public Land is leading a collaborative effort to integrate new parks and green space into the communities along the Green Line, an 11-mile light-rail corridor that will run between Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Photo of Indian Jack Lake

The Trust for Public Land protected this new Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the popular Brainerd Lakes region, which is under considerable development pressure.

Bush Camp in Northwoods of Minnesota

This property is situated within the artic watershed just a few miles south of the Canadian border and surrounded by the Boundary Waters, the most visited wilderness area in the country. After more than a decade of work with The Trust for Public Land, and with funding from the Leuthold Wilderness Foundation, Jim and Judy Brandenburg created an iconic place for all when they protected this unbroken stretch of hundreds of acres of wild land surrounding beautiful Judd Lake.

Koochiching and George Washington State Forests, Minnesota. Photo: Peter Crouser

For generations, the private timberlands of Minnesota's Northwoods have supported jobs, provided wildlife habitat and clean water, offered recreation to local residents, and attracted millions of visitors each year. But as rising land values make land more valuable as real estate than timberland, land is being broken up and sold for second-home development.

Kremer Lake, Chippewa National Forest, MN

The Trust for Public Land is working to protect 43 acres wedged between Kremer Lake and the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway in the heart of northern Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest.

La Salle Lake, MN

La Salle Lake is Minnesota's second-deepest lake.  In October 2011, The Trust for Public Land helped conserve 1,000 acres surrounding the lake, creating connections between existing public lands.

Photo of a group of people hiking around Lawrence Creek in the snow

Located just north of the town of Franconia, the new Lawrence Creek Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) protects natural features and rare resources of exceptional scientific and educational value. Created with The Trust for Public Land's help in 2017, the new 72-acre SNA features a mature hardwood forest of maples and oaks along a crystalline creek that flows, less than a mile downstream, into the Wild & Scenic Lower St. Croix River. The new SNA will provide excellent opportunities for nature study, outdoor education, scientific research, and other non-motorized recreation. Visitors are welcome to hike, ski, or snowshoe on the land. Limited hunting is allowed.

Lester Lake, MN

TPL worked with the state and local partners to secure funding that ensures the permanent protection of Lester Lake in Minnesota's North Woods.

Lost Valley Prairie, Minnesota

For years volunteers in Minnesota's Scientific Natural Area program hoped to see this 120-acre "botanist's delight" in Washington County protected.

In partnership with several other conservation organizations, The Trust for Public Land is working to permanently protect high-quality habitat for fish and wildlife along the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix rivers and their tributaries in the Twin Cities region.

Site of future Griggs Park, St. Paul

The Trust for Public Land recently purchased five acres near Skyline Tower and transferred the parcels to the City of St. Paul. In the coming years, we will help guide the community through the process of designing, funding, and building a brand new, much-needed park.

Minneapolis Community Gardens

The Trust for Public Land worked with two local nonprofits—The Sustainable Resources Center and The Green Institute—to permanently protect these gardens.

Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex

In the 400 miles below its origin at Lake Itasca, the Mississippi River provides habitat for fish and other wildlife, hosts annual waves of migratory waterfowl, and is a favorite destination for hunting, fishing, birding, boating, and hiking. Much of the land along this stretch of the river is privately owned and subject to development or conversion to agriculture.

shoreline of the Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex near Brainerd, MN.

For several years, The Trust for Public Land and several partner organizations helped protect this property, linking it to nearby conservation lands, and creating a nine mile stretch of protected land along the river.

Nisswa Lake, Minnesota. Photo: Allen Brisson-Smith

TPL helped protect Nisswa Lake, part of the 13,000-acre Gull Lake Chain, a popular fishing, boating, and swimming destination in the central part of the state.

Photo of North Long Lake

North Long Lake is one of the Brainerd tourist area's largest and most popular lakes for fishing, hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation. Surrounded by forest and marshland, this deep-water lake drains into the Mississippi River and supports an excellent fishery.

Parks for People -Twin Cities

The Trust for Public Land works with communities large and small to put a park, trail, or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every Twin Cities resident. At The Trust for Public Land we work to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the multiple benefits of parks and natural space.

Photo of kids on the ArtsWok Carousel

When we asked people who live, work, and play in Northside Minneapolis what kind of fitness area they might like, they told us: something unique that could be used by neighbors of different ages, and that was social, encouraging interaction with others. They also wanted it to look and feel like it had been made in the community, rather than on an assembly line. The result is the People-powered carousel, a merry-go-round driven by the people who pedal it.

Pike Lake, MN

When highway construction threatened Pike Lake, a haven for wildlife and a popular recreation spot, the city of Prior Lake asked The Trust for Public Land for help.

Pilot Knob, Minnesota. Photo: Peter Crouser

Native Dakota people once performed ceremonies on this hill overlooking the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the Twin Cities suburb of Mendota Heights.

Pine Bend Bluffs, Minnesota. Photo: Tom Evers

Along the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights, TPL continues to secure key properties that compose the Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area.

Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

TPL helped add land to the Pipestone National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service that protects archaeological resources and natural features such as Winnewissa Falls on Pipestone Creek.

Photo of mom and son riding bikes

In 2005, The Trust for Public Land worked with Washington County and a private landowner to convert an abandoned rail corridor into a missing-link bike-and-pedestrian trail between Hastings, Minnesota, and Prescott, Wisconsin. Located near where the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway meets the Mississippi River, the bucolic, 2-½-mile path connects trail-users to Point Douglas beach and a new visitor center and interpretive trail on the Mississippi River in Hastings while also improving access to the Carpenter Nature Center, a mile further north.

Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area, Minnesota

To ensure that everyone can their property as a wildlife haven, the Koester family worked with The Trust for Public Land and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to transform 460 acres of their land into the Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area.

Quarry Park, Minnesota. Photo: Tom Evers

The region around St. Cloud holds some of the fastest growing communities in Minnesota. At the edge of this sprawling region, Quarry Park and Nature Preserve offers rich history, diverse resources, and a variety of recreational activities, including SCUBA diving, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, and trout fishing.

Root River, Minnesota. Photo: Darcy Kiefel

This Olmsted County park protects a section of the historic Root River stagecoach trail, preserves a biologically significant area, and creates new recreation opportunities.

Sabo Farm, Minnesota. Photo: Bob Firth

When Harold and Doris Sabo approached retirement, they decided to sell their 2,500-acre Clearwater County farm bordering the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Bird watching at Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area in Savage, MN.

Thirty minutes southwest of the Twin Cities, Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) is an ecological treasury that became almost 70 acres richer in late 2010.

A man stands in a field

In partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land is working to create and expand conservation areas in the blufflands, to protect important wildlife habitat, and to improve access to recreation across this singular region.

St. Paul's Priory, Minnesota. Photo: Linda Huhn

In 1960, the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict purchased a rolling glacial moraine in Maplewood as site for a college and retirement home. For four decades the land remained open as Maplewood expanded and developers sought to purchase the property. 

Photo of a man fishing at Leech Lake

To the delight of local anglers, boaters, campers, skiers, snowmobilers, and conservationists, The Trust for Public Land has protected 40 pristine acres along Leech Lake, including a half mile of shoreline, as an addition to Chippewa National Forest.

Sugar Hills, Minnesota. Photo: George Hornick

TPL helped protect the Sugar Hills property, which contains a popular ski trail system, clear water creeks, a 14-acre lake, and "Big Thunder Peak," one of the state's highest named summits.

Northwoods Initiative. Photo: William Poole

The Trust for Public Land established the Northwoods Initiative to protect the iconic landscapes of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Photo of a snowy field

The Trust for Public Land’s acquisition and conveyance of 134 acres to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) made possible the creation of the Trout Lily Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the Cannon River just northeast of Faribault in Rice County. Currently cropland with remnants of maple-basswood “Big Woods”, the new WMA will be restored to prairie while conserving habitat for the federally endangered dwarf trout lily, the state’s rarest plant. Building on the legacy of protected lands, the new WMA abuts a Nature Conservancy preserve as well as a State DNR Scientific and Natural Area. Trout Lily WMA will provide exceptional hunting opportunities for deer, pheasant, and turkeys within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities.

Photo of Upper Callen lake

Looking for a new area to explore? Lace up your hiking boots, grab your fishing pole, and head to beautiful Upper Cullen Lake, a favorite outdoor destination only a few hours northwest of the Twin Cities. The Trust for Public Land helped Crow Wing County conserve 146 acres at Upper Cullen Lake, including 2600 feet of lakeshore and a cold-water stream—land now open to public hiking, fishing, and hunting.

Vermillion Empire, Minnesota. Photo: Peter Crouser

Within a half-hour's drive of St. Paul, the 475-acre site known as Vermillion Empire View offers a host of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Photo of Victoria Lake

Victoria Lake, along the Wild and Scenic Ontonagon River on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is a favored destination for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and boating. Much of the land in this outdoor paradise is protected in Ottawa National Forest, but in other places, private parcels block public access, threaten water pollution, and complicate management of the national forest.

Photo of a field

In 2018, The Trust for Public Land’s addition of 18 acres to the Warsaw State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) provided much-needed public access to this WMA near Dennison in Goodhue County. The Trust for Public Land acquired the land and conveyed it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 2018.

Wayzata Woods, Minnesota.

The Trust for Public Land helped protect this now-rare remnant of the Big Woods ecosystem that once dominated the southeastern third of Minnesota.

Photo of a woman standing on a tree branch at Elk River in Minnesota

Located only 40 miles from the core of the Twin Cities, this new 335-acre conservation area provides unparalleled opportunities for natural recreation to the region’s 3.3 million residents.

Wolf Island, MN

A 60-acre gem located in Lake Vermilion's Wolf Bay, Wolf Island is a place of legend and lore, with historical ties to both Native Americans and Voyageurs.

Located in the Driftless Area, the newly protected Yucatan Wildlife Management Area was formerly operated as a Girl Scout camp. Since its recent closure, the camp's beautiful landscape has been threatened by increased development pressure and the conversion of nearby natural lands to agriculture.