The Minnesota River valley is home to most of the remaining native habitats identified by MBS in the counties that border the river, including distinctive plant communities that have developed over hundreds and thousands of years on some of the oldest (3.6 billion years) bedrock outcrops on Earth. The valley's rock outcrops harbor unusual plants adapted to droughty, shallow soils — such as the Great Plains prickly pear cactus (Opuntia macrorhiza)— as well as water hyssop (Bacopa rotundifolia) and a dozen other rare species that inhabit ephemeral pools that form in depressions in the bedrock after rain. These outcrop communities benefit from management with fire, and in recent years have faced increasing pressure from bedrock mining.
MCBS data on rock outcrop communities and other native habitats are being used by Renville County's Division of Environment and Community Development to improve county park management and for review of bedrock mining permits. The data are also being used by trail planning groups in Renville County and Redwood Falls. Knowledge of the location and importance of native habitats and sensitive species is aiding conservation of the valley's unique natural features.