Welcome to the Minnesota Conservation Explorer!

Image banner including map of Ecological Provinces, image of prairie in bloom, and image of Leonard's Skipper

The Minnesota Conservation Explorer is an online tool to enhance the delivery of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage Data and to automate the Natural Heritage Review process. The Minnesota Conservation Explorer can be used to explore public data available for conservation planning, to request an automated Natural Heritage Review, and, for authorized users, to access nonpublic data. Summary information is provided below. Click on the headings for more details. 

Conservation Planning

The Minnesota Conservation Explorer allows users to view and explore spatial information useful for desktop site assessments, land use planning, or conservation planning. The spatial information consists of publicly available layers relevant to Minnesota’s Natural Heritage, as well as several reference layers. Users can define an area of interest and then create maps or conservation planning reports for that area. This service is free and does not require the user to register or log in. To begin exploring Minnesota's Natural Heritage data, click on the Explore Tab above. The Help Tab provides instructions for navigating the tool.

Natural Heritage Review

Registered users can submit a proposed project and request an automated assessment of potential impacts to Minnesota’s rare features. This review informs project proposers of any required actions to follow state law, recommended measures to avoid or minimize disturbance to ecologically significant areas or state-listed species, and, if needed, additional steps needed to complete the review.

A Natural Heritage Review is required as part of Minnesota’s environmental review process. In addition, a Natural Heritage Review is strongly encouraged for all projects as due diligence for following state law and considering impacts to Minnesota’s Natural Heritage. Users must register and log in. Please see the fee schedule for this service.

Nonpublic Data Access

Only licensees and authorized DNR staff can view the known locations of state-listed species. Users must complete the required training, create an account, and login to view the NHIS nonpublic data layers.

If your organization is interested in pursuing a license with the DNR to gain access to nonpublic data on state-listed species, please fill out and submit a License Agreement Application. Please see the fee schedule for this service.

DNR staff who have taken the NHIS Training, please create an account and then contact mce.dnr@state.mn.us to have your MCE permissions upgraded.

Funding for this project was provided, in part, by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.