The 8 National Natural Landmarks of Minnesota

The Itasca Natural Area in northern Minnesota.
The Itasca Natural Area in northern Minnesota.

The U.S. National Natural Landmarks (NLL) Program identifies and promotes the conservation of landmarks across the country that are considered significant in terms of natural history. There are currently 599 natural landmarks across 48 U.S. states and more than 3,000 potential landmarks which cover approximately 60 million acres. Delaware and Louisiana are the only state that do not have a designated National Natural Landmark. Federal, state, municipal, or county governments administer about half of these landmarks, while one-third are administered privately or through a mix of public and private ownership.

The state of Minnesota is named after the Minnesota River, which means clear blue water, and it is the northernmost state, outside of Alaska, that borders Canada and Lake Superior. It is the 22nd most populous state in the U.S. and had a population of approximately 5,576,606 in 2017. The state is the 12 largest in the nation in terms of area, as it covers 86,936 square miles. Minnesota was acknowledged as the 32nd state on May 11th, 1858, and its largest city is Minneapolis.

National Natural Landmarks of Minnesota

Cedar Creek Natural History Area

The Cedar Creek Natural History Area is an ecological research site that covers an area of 5,400 acres and is located in Isanti and Anoka counties. The site has more than 900 plots for long-term research studying biodiversity and plant competition. The site was established in 1942 and is administered by the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. It was designated as a National Natural Landmark in May 1975 by the National Park Service, and in 1980 it was designated under the Historic Sites Act. The site is relatively undisturbed and is situated where three types of biomes converge (eastern deciduous forests, tallgrass prairie, and boreal coniferous forest). The site supports more than 259 species of birds and about 61 species of mammals.

Itasca Natural Area

Itasca State Park covers an area of 32,680 acres and spans Becker, Hubbard, and Clearwater counties. The park was established by state legislature in 1891, and is Minnesota’s oldest park, and the nation’s second oldest after the Niagara Falls State Park. In 1965 the site was designated as a National Natural Landmark, and in 1973 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Each year approximately 500,000 tourists visit the park. The intersection of different biomes gives rise to a variety of vegetation and animals, and the park is home to more than 200 bird species and more than 60 species of mammals. By 1998, the population density of deer was estimated at between 15 and 17 deer per square mile, whereas other places like Wisconsin have between 4 and 10 deer per square mile.

Keeley Creek Natural Area

Keeley Creek Natural Area is located in Stony River Township, Lake County and covers an area of 1,180 acres. The area was established in 1942 as a Research Natural Area, and was later designated as National Natural Landmark in 1965. The site is forested and is made up primarily of native trees such as fir, as well as black spruce and jack pine. Some of the animals found in the region include the ruffed grouse, snow rabbit, and white-tailed deer.

Designation of National Natural Landmarks

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is responsible for the designation of National Natural Landmarks, which usually occurs after thorough scientific studies of the potential sites. The selection process is rigorous, and the site should be among the best examples of natural biotic characteristics or geographical features in the area.

The 8 National Natural Landmarks of Minnesota

1Ancient River Warren Channel1966Big StoneState/Private
2Cedar Creek Natural History Area1975Anoka, IsantiState/Private
3Itasca Natural Area1975ClearwaterState
4Keeley Creek Natural Area1965LakeFederal
5Lac la Croix Research Natural Area1980St. LouisFederal
6Lake Agassiz Peatlands Natural Area1965KoochichingState
7Pine Point Research Natural Area1975CassFederal
8Upper Red Lake Peatland1975BeltramiFederal/State/Private/Native

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