Urban and Regional Parks

Urban and Regional Parks

Situated at the convergence of four prominent river systems, the Twin Cities metro area is blessed with a rich array of natural areas, parklands and waterways.

Our urban and regional parks are a big part of what makes our state so unique and beloved, as well as boost our state and local economies.

For many, these public lands and waters provide the only natural habitat they regularly encounter.

But increased demands on our land, rampant invasive plants and pests, and climate change threaten Minnesota’s natural areas, forcing them into a state of rapid decline. If we do nothing, in as soon as 20 years, the spaces that now provide residents and visitors enjoy major recreational opportunity will be completely unrecognizable.

Very soon, essential migratory corridors and habitat will no longer sustain plant or wildlife diversity. Flood and erosion control will falter.

That’s where Great River Greening comes in. Every year, we engage thousands of volunteers to plant trees and wildflowers, rebuild shorelines, stop the spread of invasive plants, restore the health and beauty of green spaces—and most importantly—inspire stewards who will protect these areas in the future.


  • Protect and improve the health of native plant and wildlife populations and the forests, prairies and waters that support them.
  • Improve water quality within waters of the Twin Cities Metro Area through practices to reduce erosion, stormwater runoff, and pollution.
  • Enhance the recreational experience of visitors to Metro Area parks, natural areas, lakes and rivers.

Current Projects

More about how we work

Great River Greening works in partnership with a large variety of conservation partners throughout the Metro – municipalities, counties, non-governmental organizations, federal and state agencies, corporations and private landowners – to restore ecological health to critical natural areas, parks and open spaces, brownfields and neglected areas, and lakes and streams. Through two major conservation partnerships (Metro Big Rivers Partnership and Metro Conservation Corridors; see below), we secure resources to protect, restore and enhance priority habitat for wildlife and the public.


Our project partners include a broad suite of local, state, and federal units of government with whom we collaborate on individual projects. In addition, we collaborate on securing resources to protect, restore and enhance priority habitat for wildlife and the public through two major partnerships:

Metro Big Rivers Partnership
A partnership of five experienced nonprofit conservation organizations – Friends of the Mississippi River, Great River Greening, Minnesota Land Trust, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc. and Trust for Public Land – the Metro Big Rivers Partnership (established in 2009) protects, restores and enhances high priority wildlife habitat within the three big river corridors in the Twin Cities metro area – the Minnesota, Mississippi and St. Croix.

Metro Conservation Corridors Partnership
Established in 2003, the Metro Conservation Corridors Partnership accelerates protection and restoration of remaining high-quality natural lands in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area by strategically coordinating and focusing conservation efforts within a connected network of critical lands. To date, the Partnership has protected and restored over 10,000 acres and 8,000 acres within the Twin Cities Metro Area, respectively.

Major Funders

Major Funding to support Twin Cities Metro Program activities has been provided by Board of Soil and Water Resources; Minnesota DNR Shorelands Program; Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (as recommended by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources); and Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund (as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council).