News release: The role of Minnesota’s public lands in addressing climate change

September 21, 2023

Climate Week and National Public Lands Day are a chance to highlight the value of natural lands as an essential part of our climate solution

Climate Week and National Public Lands Day coincide each year, offering Minnesotans a reminder that public lands serve a critical role when it comes to mitigating and adapting to climate change. The importance of Minnesota’s landscapes – including public lands – in addressing climate change is highlighted in the state’s Climate Action Framework, which was completed in 2022.   

“We see and experience the impact of climate change on our lands and waters, as well as Minnesotans’ ability to enjoy the outdoors,” said Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “By protecting and restoring our natural lands, we can harness the highest potential of these landscapes to store carbon and enhance Minnesota’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

The climate benefits of forests, grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are numerous, including absorbing and storing carbon and sustaining resilient landscapes. At the same time, these lands provide clean water, habitat for pollinators and wildlife, economic opportunities, and recreation. For example, this year Minnesota committed to enhancing and restoring more than 6,000 acres of grasslands and wetlands on wildlife management areas to increase carbon storage. This work can offset annual carbon emissions of more than 96,000 cars, while improving wildlife habitat, enhancing water quality, and reducing flooding. 

This commitment to additional restoration and enhancement work is being funded by one-time investments provided by Gov. Tim Walz and the 2023 Legislature in the historic One Minnesota Budget that the DNR is using to accelerate important climate strategies. Totaling $37.7 million dollars, this funding will help enhance grasslands and restore wetlands and peatlands, increase tree cover in urban and rural areas, accelerate tree seed collection, and restore streams to enhance climate resiliency and support fish habitat.

“When we protect and enhance our natural lands, we not only preserve the natural resources that Minnesotans hold dear, we also increase the potential to capture and store more carbon and withstand the impacts of climate change,” said DNR Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer. “The funding is allowing us to accelerate climate action on both public and private lands and further advance the many benefits that Minnesota’s varied landscapes provide.”

For more examples of DNR’s work to adapt to and mitigate climate change, visit the Climate Change and Minnesota webpage of the DNR website or for more information, read the state of Minnesota’s Climate Action Framework.

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