These are undeveloped areas that might be categorized as production, reserve and preserve. Production refers to farm, forest, industrial and mining property with ongoing operations. Reserve includes productive areas set aside for eventual residential and commercial development. Preserve refers to lands that are environmentally unique or sensitive and are not intended for development.
Minnesota’s countryside is generally divided into three zones. The North Woods, with its pine and birch forests and thousands of lakes, dominate the northern third; western prairie, with grasslands and oak savannahs occupy the western and central portions; deciduous forests, punctuated by hills and rocky river bluffs, cover the southeast corner.
- While much of this open land is occupied by farming, mining and tourism, a large system of state parks demonstrates the state’s native natural features
- Itasca, near Park Rapids, and Gooseberry Falls, near Two Harbors, are popular North Woods examples
- Glacial Lakes State Park near Starbuck offers a spectacular sampling of prairie landscape
- Great River Bluffs near Winona provides a good example of river bluffs and eastern forests
Challenges Facing Rural Areas
- Preserving water quality
- Protecting wildlife habitat
- Preventing suburban sprawl
- Stabilizing marshlands, hillsides, native grasslands and other sensitive areas