Mississippi Headwaters Board: The Mississippi Headwaters Board was started in 1980 to establish consistent zoning ordinances and provide local control along the 400-mile stretch. Its mission has evolved as it emphasizes voluntary conservation. MHB has become a state model for working with local officials on fee-title acquisitions. Its approach: Contact the local government first, make sure plans mesh with long-term planning goals, and keep officials informed throughout the process.

MHB’s Larger Role: “The Upper Mississippi is the only basin entirely within Minnesota. All the other ones are shared with other states. Everything that happens to the Mississippi we did to it,” Steward said of the MHB’s national role. “A more regional responsibility is the Twin Cities drinking water supply. I think those trump everything. But it’s also outstanding habitat, and we’re trying to hold that together.”

Ranking Eligible Land: Maps identify high-quality habitat, indicating if a property is riparian or adjacent to public or otherwise protected land. More weight is given if wild rice habitat, shallow lakes, or endangered species or species of greatest concern are present. The ranking system allows planners to complete a cost analysis.

Counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison

Partners: Mississippi Headwaters Board, Trust for Public Land, BWSR and eight counties’ SWCDs; support from The Nature Conservancy and DNR

Recent Acquisitions: Acquisitions include a 358-acre addition to the Crow Wing State Forest with 8,210 feet of Mississippi River shoreline in Crow Wing County; creation of 292-acre Indian Jack Lake Wildlife Management Area with 12,300 feet of lakeshore and 75 feet of Mississippi River frontage, adjacent to public land in Crow Wing County; and a 158-acre Savanna State Forest addition with 6,600 feet of Mississippi riverfront in Aitkin County.

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