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The Mississippi River connects but also divides the landscape and its people, making it impossible to address problems at merely the local or state level. To remain healthy, this landscape depends upon strong, credible and reliable organizations able to work locally but to plan and cooperate regionally - or even nationally.

The core partners of the Blufflands Alliance are six, non-profit, conservation groups working in four states. Each organization operates within its own state (or part of the state), working individually with private landowners, public and private agencies and volunteers.


Blufflands Alliance partners have been working together in the region since 1994. Their emphasis is on land protection, restoration, education and outreach programs, and developing relationships with landEffigy Moundsowners, civic leaders, membersand donors.


Collectively, the Blufflands Alliance has protected more than 50,000 acres of diverse habitat, scenic views, archaeological sites and working farms along the blufflands of the Upper Mississippi River.

The Alliance partners have led more than 450 workshops and presentations about land protection, conservation and restoration options to community groups, service organizations and landowners.

Project highlights

Here is just a sampling of places protected by members of the Blufflands Alliance:

Maiden Rock Bluff, Wisconsin

Here, West Wisconsin Land Trust protected one of Wisconsin’s premiere limestone cliff faces on a bluff high above the Mississippi River overlooking Lake Pepin. Extending for nearly a mile, the 400-foot high bluff is especially noteworthy for the presence of nesting peregrine falcons, a state-endangered species. The cliff is one of only six bluffs on the Mississippi River where peregrines are successfully nesting on natural substrate. Situated along the Mississippi River flyway, this bluff also provides important habitat for other migrating birds. Maiden Rock Bluff was designated a State Natural Area in 2004. The surrounding uplands including existing agricultural fields will be restored to prairie with skiing and hiking trails for the public. Learn More

Rushford Sand Barrens, Minnesota

Minnesota Land Trust protected these 367 acres, located near the Rushford Sand Barrens State Natural Area, through a private conservation easement. The site’s high quality remnant oak savanna and prairie harbor a variety of plants and animals. Those designated as species of special concern by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources include timber rattlesnakes, six-lined race runners, Hill’s thistle, tuberous Indian plantain and more than 32 native prairie and savanna plants.

Keogh Effigy Preserve, Illinois

This 34-acre parcel, acquired by the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, is packed with natural and cultural resources. The site contains Mississippi River submergent wetland, floodplain forest, upland forest and Native American effigy mounds.

LaCrosse Blufflands, Wisconsin

Mississippi Valley Conservancy partnered with the City of La Crosse to protect an 8-mile stretch of Mississippi River bluffs overlooking the city. This project carries on a local conservation tradition dating back to the 1900s with the acquisition of Grandad Bluff and Hixon Forest. The program provides scenic preservation to ensure that the beauty of the landscape is not destroyed by poorly-planned development, while protecting rare natural communities like bluff prairies and providing a marvelous outdoor recreational resource. Learn More

Great Mississippi River Ridge, Illinois

This 140-acre site is protected by a private conservation easement granted to the Natural Land Institute by owners of the Ridge development. The easement protects the rare algific slopes, forestland, natural sinkholes and ravines. It’s home to a host of species that exist only in boreal regions far north of Illinois borders. Learn More

Hanover Bluff, Illinois

The 451-acre Hanover Bluffs Nature Preserve, a joint project of the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation and the Natural Land Institute, is located on a high dolomite ridge that forms a valley wall of the Mississippi River. It is the first dedicated nature preserve located in the Wisconsin Driftless Natural Division. The site is home to endangered wildlife species such as the bald eagle, scarlet tanager, wood thrush, timber rattlesnake, prairie ringneck snake, and several species of frogs and toads. An additional 964 acres of land has been protected either through conservation easements on privately owned land with Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, the Natural Land Institute, The Nature Conservancy or ownership by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Learn More

Heritage Addition to Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation acquired a 1,045-acre addition to Effigy Mounds National Monument (EFMO). The purchase expanded the monument by 60 percent and linked EFMO to a portion of Yellow River State Forest, putting more than 4,000 contiguous acres and 7.8 miles of the Yellow River under public protection. Several state-endangered species have been found on the Heritage Addition, including the jeweled shooting star, red-shouldered hawk and pileated woodpecker. Thirteen archaeological sites are scattered throughout the property, including two bear effigies, linear mounds and habitation sites. Learn More