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Protection Urged for MN's Climate-Resilient Landscapes

A leading conservation group says Minnesota has a number of landscapes that could help plant and animal species thrive despite the threat of climate change. (Adobe Stock)
A leading conservation group says Minnesota has a number of landscapes that could help plant and animal species thrive despite the threat of climate change. (Adobe Stock)
February 11, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Scientists are sounding the alarm over how climate change is affecting certain habitats, but some Minnesota landscapes could serve as safe havens for plants and animals.

For years, the Nature Conservancy has been evaluating which parts of the country could thrive for certain species affected by changing climate patterns and land development. The project first looked at the East Coast.

Michael Pressman, of the group's Minnesota chapter, said they've now mapped out key points of interest in the central U.S. For example, he said, there are parts of southeastern Minnesota that have fertile land and steep valleys with clear rivers.

"There's lots of different micro-climates there that allow different types of nature to live in different places," Pressman said. "And as the climate warms and things shift, it allows nature to move."

Pressman said these areas are considered strongholds for habitat, or at least serve as corridors for species on the move. The agency has said a number of Minnesota's state parks also have diverse landscapes that offer plenty of resiliency. The group is sharing its research with state and federal officials in hopes of making sure these landscapes are not overdeveloped.

Pressman said it's not just about protecting plant and animal species. He said it's also about making smart choices so natural resources the state's economy relies on won't disappear.

"It's providing timber to our timber industry. It's protecting our grasslands that are so important to our ranchers and our ranching economy," he said.

Pressman said these land-analysis efforts have helped in other parts of the country. He cited the work the group has done in Tennessee, where that state has incorporated the findings into its statewide conservation plan.

Disclosure: The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, Sustainable Agriculture, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN