William H. Houlton Conservation Area

Photo of a woman standing on a tree branch at Elk River in MinnesotaPhoto credit: Andy Richter

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.

With seven miles of shoreline at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers, the William H. Houlton Conservation Area was previously one of the largest pieces of unprotected land along this stretch of the Mississippi River. Now the area's floodplain forest, oak savanna, and restored prairie will provide outstanding opportunities for public recreation, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and canoeing.

In addition to its important natural values, the land is also culturally and historically significant. Two major battles between the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes took place here in 1772 and 1773, earning the site the Ojibwe name Me-gaud-e-win-ing, or "Battleground."

The Trust for Public Land and the City of Elk River worked together to create the new recreation area, which will be managed by the City of Elk River. Funding for this project was provided from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Explore our work

Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.