Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation, Minnesota
Headwaters of the Mississippi River. Photo by Faruk Ateş/Flickr
Just a few hours north of the Twin Cities, the pristine forests and clean waters that empty into Minnesota’s Leech Lake are not only beautiful, but also economically beneficial, attracting many of the tourists who contribute millions to the area’s economy every year.
The Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation works to keep these natural resources intact. So in 2005, when a developer wanted to build 30 homes along sensitive shoreline in Lantern Bay of Woman Lake, the foundation sprang into action, working with landowners to better understand the potential environmental impact.
Ultimately, the foundation was able to buy 2,000 feet of shoreline that would have been developed. A major loan from The Conservation Fund helped make it happen. Today, more than a mile of critical shoreland is owned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Our biggest challenge is to help the business community understand the relationship between protecting resources and the dollars that come into their businesses from the hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the country who visit this area every year. The landowners we work with understand and are very supportive. More than 300 local families donated to our loan repayment.” — Paula West, Executive Director