Scientific & Natural Areas Program
SNA Program Supervisor
500 Lafayette Road, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155
Preserve and perpetuate the ecological diversity of Minnesota's natural heritage, including landforms, fossil remains, plant and animal communities, rare and endangered species, or other biotic features and geological formations, for scientific study and public edification as components of a healthy environment.
The SNA Program's goal is to ensure that no single rare feature is lost from any region of the state. This requires protection and management of each feature in sufficient quantity and distribution across the landscape.
The activities utilized by the program to carry out its mission and goals include: land protection, management, education, research and prairie initiatives as well as producing publications, working with others, and helping private landowners.
The primary activity is the establishment of system of nature preserves called Scientific and Natural Areas. This system is found across Minnesota's landscape.
The Program's long-range goal is to protect at least:
- Five locations of plant communities known to occur in each landscape region
- Three locations per region of each rare species, plant or animal, and geological feature
Protection of multiple sites in each landscape region is a vital means of capturing the genetic diversity and preventing the loss of important species, communities, and features. This strategy observes the wisdom of not putting all our eggs in one basket.
It is estimated that 500 natural areas are needed throughout the state to adequately protect significant features. Because over 40 percent of these rare features occur in prairies, 200 natural areas would be in the prairie area of the state. Of the remainder, approximately 135 are estimated to be needed in the deciduous and 165 in coniferous forest landscape communities in the next 100 years.
The program, created by the 1969 Minnesota Legislature, currently administers nearly 160 natural areas encompassing:
- Undisturbed plant communities, such as prairie or peatlands
- Rare or endangered species habitat, such as the sunny rock outcrops needed for the uncommon five-lined skink
- Seasonal habitat for bird or animal concentrations, such as herons, egrets and the endangered piping plover
- Natural geologic formations and features, such as glacial formations
- Plant communities undergoing succession as a result of natural processes, such as old-growth forests