Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program

Land protection alone does not assure long-term preservation of natural areas and their endangered species. These scattered remnants are generally islands of habitat surrounded by highly altered landscapes. They often lack some of the natural processes necessary for their long-term survival. Therefore, there is often a need to replace or supplement natural processes with ongoing management activities such as:

  • Prescribed fire to restore natural processes on grasslands and forests
  • Control of erosion, exotic species, and other disturbances
  • Protection and enhancement of habitat for rare species and natural communities
  • Restoration of native plant communities to pre-settlement condition
  • Consultation with adjacent landowners
  • Lead and participate in landscape partnerships and projects
  • Provide management and technical assistance
  • Help other agencies and organizations make their programs ecologically friendly


An important objective for each natural area is the development of a management plan. Management plans detail the special management needs of rare species and communities, identify unnatural disturbances, recommend protection measures, and consider public uses of the area. These plans also recommend management actions necessary to restore natural conditions, such as the reintroduction of fire and the control of problem pest species. Today a helping hand is recognized as a necessary and integral part of natural area protection.

Many of those helping hands are volunteers who, under the direction of SNA staff, help remove exotic species, collect seeds, plant seedlings, clean up areas, and, with proper training, assist in prescribed burns. Other volunteers donate money or property. You are invited to use the donation form to register your interest.