Conservation in the Midwest
From the Ohio River Valley and the majestic Great Lakes to the mighty Mississippi River and farmlands in the Great Plains, Midwesterners are protecting special places throughout the central United States. In rural and urban communities across 13 states, 165 local and regional land trusts are protecting some of our nation’s most critical water resources and fertile farmlands.
The Midwest region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
- The Great Lakes basin contains 90% of the freshwater in the United States.
- The Ohio River streams westward from Ohio to Illinois and is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River.
- The mighty Mississippi River begins its 2,300-mile journey in Minnesota and is one of the world’s major river systems.
- Expansive boreal forests and migratory flyways cross the region.
Midwestern land trusts are working with local communities to protect the lands that are at the heart of America — farmlands, watersheds, rich timberlands and the streams and rivers that affect the health of the entire river and our neighbors downstream. People depend on these important places and local resources for jobs, food and water, and recreation.
The Midwest provides several outstanding examples of how conservation partnerships can work to protect some of the nation’s greatest treasures.
The Great Lakes watershed, which provides 20% of the world’s freshwater, is served by 105 land trusts -- one of the highest concentrations of conservation groups in the nation. These land trusts partner with landowners, communities, government agencies, and each other, positioning themselves to significantly protect this vital watershed.
The Blufflands Alliance is another great example of conservation partners united by a common vision. Formed in 1993 through the leadership of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Blufflands Alliance brings organizations and individuals together to protect the scenic bluffs lining the banks of the great Mississippi River for hundreds of miles.
Land trusts are also working together to protect green space in cities and suburbs. In the greater Chicago area, a coalition of twelve land trusts has been working together since 2001 to support each other’s efforts and advance a shared conservation vision.
Alliance Midwest Programs
The Land Trust Alliance is committed to helping our land trusts protect the lands and waters that are local treasures or iconic to the Midwest.
The Alliance’s Midwest Program focuses on helping land trusts build organizational strength. We are also committed to building community by connecting land trusts to each other, from statewide associations to regional alliances that form our national movement.
We provide an array of service, including supporting Land Trust Accreditation efforts, training land trust personnel and fostering collaborations to protect quality lands:
- Land Trust Programs: we offer several place-based programs that provide services to land trusts working in the watersheds where people work, play and call home:
- Great Lakes Basin: features the Michigan ACE Program and Wisconsin LEAP Program, including Minnesota, Chicagoland and northern Ohio
- Ohio River Valley: features our Indiana Land Trust Advancement Program and support to southern Ohio land trusts.
- Upper Mississippi River Basin: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
- Mentoring: tailored, in-depth planning and organizational development assistance to help land trusts tackle everyday issues and big picture challenges
- Assessments: guided assessments to identify organizational strengths and weaknesses and prepare for accreditation
- Resources: case studies, reports, guides and more, accessed through The Learning Center
- Grants: cost-share support for collaboration, strategic planning, conservation planning, financial management, board development and accreditation preparation projects
- Training: workshops and webinars
- Ask an Expert: conference calls featuring local and national experts
- Conference and Peer Gatherings: regional gatherings for learning and networking — like Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference, but close to home and focused on emerging issues in the Midwest
Get in Touch
Connect with the land trust community in the Midwest: