Natural Heritage Review Program

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The Minnesota Conservation Explorer is a tool to enhance the delivery of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage Data and to automate the Natural Heritage Review process. This is a tool for the public to view and create maps of Natural Heritage Data for the purpose of conservation planning. Users can also submit a proposed project and request an automated assessment of potential impacts to Minnesota’s rare features. Go to the Minnesota Conservation Explorer

Obtaining NHIS data

The Natural Heritage Information System (NHIS) is a collection of data layers that provides information on Minnesota's rare plants, animals, native plant communities, and other rare features.

Natural Heritage Screen

A Natural Heritage Screen is the process of checking for NHIS data in the vicinity of an activity/project to determine if further review is needed. The following optional checklist for recording results of an NH Screen may be useful to licensees and DNR staff conducting NH Screens.

Natural Heritage Review

The purpose of a Natural Heritage Review is 1) to determine if there is any potential for a project to impact state-listed species or other rare features, and 2) to identify measures needed to ensure that a project is complying with state laws related to state-listed species and other rare features. A Natural Heritage Review must be conducted for all projects that meet the threshold for formal environmental review. Government units may also require a Natural Heritage Review as part of their license/permit/grant applications. Regardless of whether a Natural Heritage Review is required, compliance with state law is required. It is strongly recommended that all projects undergo a Natural Heritage Review as a project proposer’s due diligence for following state law and considering impacts to Minnesota’s Natural Heritage.

  • MCE – Online submission with an immediate response stating the status of your review
  • If unable to submit a Natural Heritage Review request via MCE, contact Jim Drake at [email protected]


The following types of projects do not go through the regular Natural Heritage Review process:

Rare Species Survey Process

The DNR’s Rare Species Survey Process includes the following steps:

  • Choosing a surveyor
  • Acquiring a collection permit
  • Preparing a survey plan
  • Using survey guidance
  • Verifying specimens
  • Preparing survey reports
  • Submitting reports and data
  • Documenting avoidance

Related documents are found below:

DNR-certified listed-species surveyors

Rare Species Survey guidance

Survey plans, survey reports, and avoidance plans

Report and data submission

Contact the Natural Heritage Review Team

Natural Heritage Review staff receive a high volume of emails. Please use the following email addresses to ensure that your inquiry is routed to the correct staff and addressed in a timely manner:

[email protected] – For questions regarding Natural Heritage Review, including status inquiries
[email protected] – To submit survey reports and data
[email protected] – To submit License Agreement application forms
[email protected] – For questions regarding the NHIS Rare Features Data or training materials
[email protected] – For questions or troubleshooting regarding Minnesota Conservation Explorer

If your inquiry does not fit one of the above categories, please contact the team directly:

Lisa Joyal
Endangered Species Review Coordinator
NHIS Data Distribution Coordinator
[email protected]

  • Conducts Natural Heritage Reviews
  • Coordinates the review of survey reports
  • Coordinates License Agreements
  • NHIS Training Team

Molly Barrett
NH Review specialist
[email protected]

  • Conducts Natural Heritage Reviews

James Drake
NH Review specialist
[email protected]

  • Conducts Natural Heritage Reviews
  • Coordinates License Agreements

Kit Elstad-Haveles
Regional SNA management supervisor
[email protected]

  • NHIS Training Team

Becky Horton
Environmental Review planner
[email protected]

  • Coordinates the review of survey reports
  • Coordinates License Agreements

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