Mississippi River Headwaters

Program Goal

Funded by the Outdoor Heritage Fund created from the 2008 Clean Water Land & Legacy Constitutional Amendment, the goal of the program is to create and expand contiguous complexes of permanently protected shoreland and upland for the benefit of fish and wildlife habitat, migratory waterfowl, reduction of forest fragmentation, enhanced recreational opportunities and protection of water quality.

Land protection is achieved via fee-title acquisition of land or enrolling land in The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) conservation easement program. Participation is voluntary by landowners and land must meet specific program criteria.

Why Create Habitat Complexes?

Mississippi River Fall Photo
  • To meet the basic needs of game and non-game wildlife such as cover from predators, water, places to raise young, and adequate area to move around during different life stages.
  • Migratory waterfowl need food and cover along the Mississippi Flyway.
  • Land use changes result in fragmentation of critical habitats such as forests, shorelands, grasslands, and wetlands. Permanently protecting habitat complexes prevents habitat fragmentation.

Program Partners

Mississippi Headwaters Map
  • Mississippi Headwaters Board
  • The Trust for Public Land
  • MN Board of Water and Soil Resources
  • Participating Soil and Water Conservation Districts: Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, and Morrison
  • Stakeholder support from the MN DNR and the Nature Conservancy

Program Accomplishments

Since this program began in 2016, over 3,441 acres and 31 miles of shoreland have been protected. Projects on 2,000 additional acres and 15 miles of shoreland will be completed soon.

Application Process

SWCD Guidance Materials

  • RIM Application Guidance: Required components and instructions (pdf)

Easement Application Materials


Bill Penning
Conservation Programs Consultant