I am a die-hard optimist. And while 2020 has thrown some unprecedented challenges our way, I believe that we will come through this year stronger and in a better position to adapt to a new world. Why am I so optimistic?
First, if 2020 has taught us anything, it is how resilient we can be in the face of adversity. I look back with awe at how quickly everyone involved with the Land Trust was able to pivot to a new “normal”. From our staff to our donors, partners, volunteers, and landowners — all have shown up to support our work and our mission during these challenging times.
The pandemic isn’t the only challenge our communities face, and we recognize that it is time for the conservation community to be more inclusive. We must come to a reckoning with our place in the long history of America’s racial and cultural inequities if we are to continue to be leaders in conservation for Minnesota. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing and upheaval in our own communities, I pledged to help the Minnesota Land Trust make this important transition. And while this is a long journey, I’ve been extremely encouraged by the commitment of our staff and Board to address this change.
Finally, 2020 has also reinforced how essential our natural world is, which gives me hope for the work ahead. When challenged by this unprecedented year, Minnesotans turned to the great outdoors to find calm and connectedness like never before. In addition to clean water, climate adaptation, and biodiversity, we now recognize more than ever that Minnesota’s natural lands are working overtime to provide us with a sense of peace and normalcy.
So, yes, I am an optimist. And I’m grateful for all of you who have helped us navigate this strange year. We are all hoping for a better year in 2021, and I know that thanks to you, we will be well poised to make it one of our best ever.
Kris Larson, Executive Director
In Fiscal year 2020, we added 22 newly protected properties representing 2,652 acres and over 34 miles of fragile shorelines.
In total we protect over 63,500 acres and 375 miles of shorelines.
Our efforts of restoring lands back to healthy ecosystems greatly increased this year.
By partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we are in the process of restoring 76 sites representing 5,295 acres.
We helped obtain a National Water Trail Designation for the Saint Louis River Estuary, only the second in Minnesota.
We work with private landowners and communities to ensure all Minnesotans have access to get outside and enjoy our beautiful state.
INSPIRING FUTURE GENERATIONS
Situated on scenic Cooper and Little Boy Lakes, Camp Olson has connected thousands of kids to nature for nearly 70 years. Hiking, paddling, and a mix of other camp activities help cement a lifelong love of the outdoors for youth of all ages at this unique YMCA camp in central Minnesota. That connection to the outdoors led the camp to protect 39 acres of high-quality natural lands and shoreline with the Land Trust, preserving one of a dwindling number of Minnesota’s cold-water lakes that tullibee and other fish require.
Thanks to the foresight of the Camp, the fish will now have a resilient habitat, better able to survive a warming climate. And the Camp will be there to cultivate future generations of conservationists.
good business sense
The environment and economy are oftentimes framed as competing interests, when nothing could be further from the truth. Good conservation not only protects Minnesota’s high-quality outdoor way of life but also makes good business sense. This past year the Samuelson family was able to work with the Land Trust to mesh their grass-fed beef operation with conserving the natural shoreline of their Perch Lake property. The grassland the cattle graze serves as high-quality habitat for area and migratory birds, while the untouched shoreline is a haven for white pelicans and Minnesota’s iconic common loon.
A conservation easement with the Land Trust ensures that this working farm also provides grassland habitat and undeveloped lakeshore now and in the future.
Creating a home in nature
Conservation benefits us now, as well as future generations. With that forward-thinking spirit, Paul Goodwin and Yuko Nakajima wanted to create a special place for their young boys to roam and find their own connections to the outdoors, settling on a 46-acre property north of Stillwater. “The kids love the connection to the wild.” Working with the Land Trust and partner Washington County, they have begun the process of healing the natural lands around Silver Creek as it passes through their property before feeding into the St. Croix River. This new home for the family is also important habitat for a number of species such as sandhill cranes and great horned owls.
By protecting their land with the Land Trust while also inspiring the next generation to care for it, Paul and Yuko have truly created a gift for all Minnesotans.
HEALING THE LAND
Conservation takes dedicated individuals, and few are as dedicated to healing our natural landscapes as Dave Odendahl. Dave grew up on the family farm just outside of Pine City and spent a lifetime perfecting the balance of producing food for the local community while providing high-quality habitat for the waterfowl and other wildlife that frequent the property. In recent years, Dave has worked to improve the resiliency of the local watershed through a series of wetland restorations aided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. These efforts have culminated in protecting the property with a conservation easement through the Land Trust.
over 150 acres of beautifully restored land will continue to serve both wildlife and community, forever, THANKS TO DAVE'S DEDICATION.