Conservation Minnesota

Conservation Practices


Whether camping in a drive in campsite or deep in the backcountry, make sure to follow “Leave No Trace” practices. These practices include: taking with you what you brought and making sure you leave little to no impact on the land, including not taking natural items with you.

When making a campfire, be sure the firewood was local, never transport firewood for park to park. In Minnesota it is illegal to bring unapproved firewood into any state park, state forest or day-use area. Invasive insects, like the Emerald Ash Borer, that are harmful to trees, can easily be spread by firewood transport.  When backcountry camping, only collect down and dead firewood, never cut down live trees. No matter where you’re camping pay attention to any fire restrictions and make sure your coals are cool to the touch before abandoning the fire.


Invasive species alerts have become commonplace in Minnesota, but few boaters realize how often they travel with their boat. In a recent survey, 22 percent of Lake Minnetonka boaters reported they also used their boat on another body of water. Few of those, however, reported that they made a thorough cleaning of the boat after pulling the boat back onshore. Proper actions include a thorough visual inspection, cleaning off vegetation and mussels, draining water, pressure washing the boat, and allowing five days for the boat to dry before re-entering it in another body of water.


Whether hiking in a state park or a city park, trash that’s created there ends up in a local landfill. When packing for an outing, include a couple plastic grocery bags in your pack. Use those bags to sort your glass, tin, and plastic for later recycling. At Beaver Creek Valley State Park, their “Get Caught Holding the Bag” program reminded campers to bring bags to the park. The result was an immediate increase in sorted material and fewer containers going to the local landfill.

In the Backyard

Use native plants when landscaping, they will provide benefits for many insects and animals. Native plants have also adapted for our climate and shouldn’t need extra water or attention to survive.

Capture rainwater in a rain barrel and use it to water your plants. Rain barrels can be used to prevent flooding and promote infiltration of water, they’ll also save you a few dollars on your water bill.

Get more backyard conservation tips here.

Tree Care

Homeowners can take months, even years planning for a home remodel or construction project, but often none of that time is used to plan for the protection of trees around the project. Of course, direct damage can come from vehicles or saws that break branches and bark, but excavating can damage a tree’s vital root system even through soil compaction and flooding.

When planning a project, assume that a tree’s footprint lies a few feet past the diameter of its dripline or area beneath the longest branches, and avoid digging at least three feet below this area. Oaks and aspens are especially sensitive to root damage and popular as they both yield tremendous landscape value.

Prior to building, mark construction zone boundaries, inventory trees on the site, select trees to be saved, and make sure trees are healthy prior to construction. Then show the map of trees to be saved to the builder to ensure that driveways, utility lines, and storage lots do not infringe on these areas.


Owners of lakefront property are the primary stewards of our lakes, and they can have a sizeable impact on water quality. Watershed districts recommend a buffer of native grasses 25 feet from shore and across most of the parcel of lakefront property.

Phosphorous pollution causes algae blooms in lakes, and can make them unsuitable for swimming and recreation. Lakescaping keeps phosphates from running from lawns and into lakes as well as holding the shoreline together. Black-eyed Susans are a good lakescaping flower-as are Echinacea flowers.  Together they grow tall and wide and are easy to care for. Weeping willows also thrive in water, and their roots will encircle the banks of the shoreline to keep it together and reduce sedimentation that also hurts water quality.  Basins or lakes that are downhill from property can also be preserved through the use of berms and embankments that temporarily divert water runoff into a raingarden or natural wetland before allowing the water to stream into the body of water.

This simple lakescaping plan can keep hundreds of pounds of phosphates and sediment out of lakes. Check out the DNR’s Restore Your Shore program for more how to information. Or read more about lakescaping restoration here.

Take care of your part of Minnesota?

Suggest some Conservation Practices below. Or share your thoughts.