Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program 

Prescribed burn and vehicle on fire line.

Preserve Minnesota's Unique Nature

Protection alone does not assure long-term preservation of natural areas and their rare resources. Ongoing management is required to protect and enhance these parcels.


Natural Areas often lack some of the natural processes necessary for their survival. These techniques help to replace or supplement natural processes:

  • Prescribed fire in both grasslands and fire-dependent forests
  • Controlling invasive species through a variety of methods
  • Enhancing habitat for rare species and native plant communities
  • Restoring native plant communities to a healthy condition
  • Reconstructing plant communities where they've been lost
  • Coordinating with adjacent landowners on management goals


An important objective for each Natural Area is the development of a management plan. Management plans:

  • Assess historic and current conditions of native plant communities
  • Identify target priority features such as native plant communities or rare features and methods for maintaining them
  • Identify other features of interest such as Species of Greatest Conservation Need
  • Identify environment factors or human activities that may affect priority features
  • Establish restoration and management goals
  • Provide well-defined, time-bound and measurable objectives for achieving management goals
  • Monitor management actions and objectives (outcomes, targets or results)
  • Recommend management actions to restore natural conditions, such as reintroduction of fire and control of invasive species


Today, a helping hand is recognized as a necessary and integral part of Natural Area protection. Many of those helping hands are volunteers who, under the direction of DNR staff, remove invasive species, collect seeds, plant seedlings, clean up areas, and, with proper training, assist in prescribed burns. You can get involved by volunteering with us.

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