About Us

Insect on Rudbeckia The Belwin Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and appreciation of our natural world. The Belwin Conservancy owns nearly 1,400 acres of preserved land in Afton and West Lakeland Township, Minnesota. Our property comprises one of the largest privately owned nature preserves in the region. Our focus is connecting people and the land and we work towards this goal in a number of ways.

Since 1971, more than 10,000 students per year have visited the Belwin Conservancy to experience the beauty and tranquility found here. For many this is their inauguration into the natural world and it’s an experience they never forget. The Belwin Conservancy maintains miles of public trails and an observation area by our bison herd meant to give visitors an opportunity to experience our preserve for themselves. The Belwin Conservancy also owns the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields, one of the premier youth-only sports facilities in the region.

The Belwin Conservancy also maintains an aggressive restoration strategy for its property. Prior to European settlement, there were millions of acres of prairie. Today, less than 0.1% of it remains. This makes the tallgrass prairie the most endangered ecosystem on earth. This near elimination of native prairie has inspired the Belwin Conservancy to protect and restore our land. We incorporate sound land management initiatives, sustainable economic growth and ecosystem protection in our work.

Butterfly sunning itself Our restoration of the native prairie and woodlands serves as a model for ecological restoration in the St. Croix Valley. The Belwin Conservancy’s prairies are some of the oldest restored prairies in the area. Our reintroduction of bison to our land offers a unique opportunity for visitors to see a living example of prehistoric Minnesota that also serves as a model for modern land use that is economically sustainable. Our efforts have allowed six animal species and three plant species considered rare by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to thrive on Belwin Conservancy land.

The Belwin Conservancy promotes sustainable ecosystems through an integration of environmental, health, economic and quality of life goals. Working with a range of partners, we safeguard the natural environment – air, water, and the land. We nurture relationships with surrounding communities, school districts, academic institutions, public interest groups, private landowners and concerned citizens, to instill effective solutions for environmental problems.

As a result of this outreach, the Belwin Conservancy provides leadership to several arrangements:

  • Working collaboratively with Minnesota Land Trust, the Belwin Conservancy uses conservation easements to protect the important natural and scenic characteristics of its landscape
  • Working collaboratively with Saint Paul Public Schools and Stillwater School District, the Belwin Conservancy provides an outdoor educational center for 10,000 students a year.
  • The Belwin Conservancy works with community sports organizations to provide the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields. This premier youth athletic facility has eight soccer, four baseball and 3 football fields. The LWBAF host over 70,000 visitors a year.
  • The Belwin Conservancy provides research opportunities for scientists, students and faculty from a range of institutions.

Our work is made possible by the generosity of our members. We invite you to become a member of the Belwin Conservancy and come be inspired by the natural wonders of this special place.