Private land habitat

You make the difference

Minnesota habitat types and locationsLandowners are critical stewards of Minnesota's diverse habitats. Since privately owned land covers more than 75 percent of the state, thoughtful care of private land is an integral part of maintaining and improving our state's unique biodiversity.

Minnesota is richly diverse. Our habitats range from prairie to boreal forest and small, cold water streams to major continental rivers. These habitats provide homes for more than 2,000 native species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, bees and butterflies. But increasing challenges from development, invasive species and climate change threaten both.

By managing your land for habitat, whether it’s your own backyard or the back forty, you can make a difference – today and for future generations.

Enhance your habitat

With the help of professionals and available resources, you can protect, restore and enhance your habitat.


One of the best places to begin caring for our state''s natural resources is in your own backyard. Through our yard care and landscaping choices, we can do their part to assure healthier habitats and cleaner lakes and rivers.

Backyard habitat can range from a simple deck with potted plants to an acre or more surrounding your home. Simple projects can provide homes for songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, toads, butterflies, bees, bats and more. 

Backyard habitat.

As owners of 40 percent of Minnesota’s forest, stewardship decisions can make a positive impact on the future health of and benefits of woodlands for decades to come.

Upland and wetland forest habitats include dry pine woodlands to tamarack swamps, providing homes for wildlife such as forest songbirds, ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, black bear, fisher, and wild turkey.

Forest habitat.
Grassland (prairie & farmland)

Native prairie is one of North America's most endangered habitat types. Only a little over 1 percent remains in Minnesota. Prior to European settlement, more than 18 million acres of prairie, with its diverse species and habitats, covered the state. Landowners are encouraged to conserve and restore prairie, grassland and wetland habitats, especially within the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan core areas and corridors of western Minnesota.

Upland and wetland grassland habitats include dry to wet prairie, providing homes to wildlife such as songbirds, prairie chickens, pheasant, waterfowl, ground squirrels, pollinators, and butterflies.

Prairie habitat.
Shallow lake

Shallow lakes, characterized by aquatic plants and generally less than 15 feet deep, provides the most important wildlife habitat.

Although water quality often is degraded, lake outlets modified and exotic species rampant, landowners with shallow lakes can restore these basins and provide a critical wildlife habitat.

Contact the DNR's wildlife lake specialists for more information.

Shallow lake habitat.

A habitat rich in diversity can bring beauty to your shoreline, attract wildlife and pollinators as well as improve water quality.

Traditional lawns, while not particularly harmful, have few of the benefits of a more natural shoreline and often cause problems. Lawns are shallow rooted, provide little wildlife habitat, need frequent maintenance and are often over-fertilized.

Shoreland habitat.
Shrubland (parkland/brushland/savanna)

Habitats with scattered woody vegetation that are not forest and not prairie, such as aspen parklands, savanna and shrub swamp, may be less known, but are equally important. Oak savanna once covered nearly 5.5 million acres in Minnesota; today only 0.2 percent of those acres remain.

Upland and wetland shrubland habitats include savanna to open bog, providing homes to wildlife such as sharp-tailed grouse, red-headed woodpecker, loggerhead shrike, fox squirrel and elk.

Prairie habitat.

Shallow, sometimes temporary wetlands provide breeding habitat to amphibians and invertebrates as well as waterfowl in early spring. Leaving them intact and functional is appropriate. Draining or filling wetlands – or excavating a deep, open water pond in them – is discouraged and may violate regulations implemented to protect them.

There are numerous wetland habitat types in Minnesota. They include alder swamps, wet meadows, marshes and wet prairies.

Wetland habitat.


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