The Blufflands Landscape
Recognized as one of the great American treasures, the Mississippi River blufflands and its unique driftless features are one of the most scenic and culturally important regions in the United States.
Not only did the river and surrounding bluffs focus Native American culture and life, it provided the conduit by which early European explorers made their first significant foray into Middle America.
Because of the unique geologic qualities of the region, the bluffs and valleys contains some of the state’s most significant biodiversity of plant communities and wildlife habitat. This biodiversity is critical to the State’s enduring legacy of high quality forests, rivers and prairies. The region is home to 183 species of state-listed rare plants and animals in the region, many of them concentrated in the 749 sites of biodiversity significance mapped in the region by the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS).
Yet only approximatley 4% of the land in southeastern Minnesota is protected from development.
This is why the work of the Minnesota Land Trust, with its focus on permanent land protection via private landowners, is so important to this landscape.
By focusing efforts on large contiguous forests, significant natural features, such as peregrine falcon aeries, scenic vistas, unique bluff plant and animal communities, and important historical and cultural sites, the Land Trust and its partners have been responsible for the permanent protection of more than 14,000 acres during the past decade.
Although land protection efforts to date have been significant, there is much work to be done. The Mississippi River blufflands area is experiencing significant pressure from an expanding human population and industrial uses such as mining. Limited developable land in the valleys below the bluffs has forced residential and commercial development up onto the bluffs.
The Land Trust and its partners are racing against time to protect additional land that preserves the natural and scenic beauty of the Mississippi River blufflands.
Fortunately, conservation initiatives in the blufflands and in the Root River watershed are driving attention and funding into these important areas. You can help by adding your support to the Minnesota Land Trust, which helps us leverage additional funding. You can also recommend landowners to investigate preserving their own land. Contact the Land Trust for more information.