Conservation agenda

Goal 1: Natural Resources Conservation

Minnesota's waters, natural lands, and diverse fish and wildlife habitats are conserved and enhanced.


trend thumbnails groundwater invasives grassland birds

Click on photos above to learn more about each trend.

  1. Groundwater is threatened.
  2. Invasive species are spreading.
  3. Prairies, grasslands and wetlands are declining.
  4. Grassland bird populations are decreasing.

The Challenge

Shifts in land use, the spread of invasive species, pollution and a changing climate are combining today to create some of the greatest challenges Minnesota's natural lands and waters have ever faced. Development and fragmentation of habitat adjacent to public land is impeding natural resource management, restricting public recreational access and reducing the health of natural lands. Under a changing climate we expect to see more severe storms, larger wildfires, accelerating spread of invasive species, outbreaks of pests and shifting wildlife populations.

This page offers a quick overview of our plans to meet this goal. For more details, click below to learn more.

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To meet our goal of conserving and enhancing waters, lands and habitats, we will:


The following actions are examples of how we will carry out these strategies.

Improve groundwater management

We will increase groundwater monitoring, education and compliance; implement management plans to guide groundwater stewardship in designated areas; and accelerate assessments and permitting to protect trout streams.

Conserve prairies, grasslands and wetlands

We will work with partners to implement the Minnesota prairie conservation plan and conserve habitat through incentives, acquisition, restoration and active management.

Prevent and curb the spread of invasive species

We will protect habitat for native species by installing fish barriers and other deterrents to the spread of invasive species; expand our PlayCleanGo and WorkCleanGo programs, and help develop better invasive species control technologies.

Monitor natural lands, waters and species

We will accelerate inventory and monitoring of vegetation, habitats, fish and wildlife, and water resources; increase cooperative land management; and improve data management and public accessibility.

Groundwater is threatened

Overuse and contamination from nitrate and other pollutants threaten groundwater supplies. Statewide, groundwater use has increased 35 percent over the past 25 years, an increase of about 3 billion gallons per year on average.

Invasive species are spreading

Invasive species are spreading, harming native species, disrupting natural systems, and reducing resources fish and wildlife need to thrive. The emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed more than 50 million ash trees in a dozen states. Invasive carp pose an imminent threat to Minnesota's lakes and rivers as they advance up the Mississippi River.

Prairies, grasslands and wetlands are declining

Prairies, grasslands and wetlands are disappearing as conservation lands are converted to agricultural row crops and development uses. Prairie once covered one-third of the state, but now less than 2 percent remains. Minnesota has lost more than 90 percent of its prairie wetlands.

Grassland bird populations are decreasing

Grassland bird populations such as meadowlarks, grasshopper sparrows and pheasants are declining as habitat is lost. Between 1967 and 2011, the population index of 24 grassland birds declined nearly 40 percent.