May Vang


Belwin Conservancy permanently protects nearly 1,600 acres in the Valley Creek Watershed. Through partnerships, public access, and innovative programming, we welcome people to celebrate and learn from our protected landscapes. In fostering connection and engagement with the land, Belwin has inspired thousands of people to protect our natural world—one hiker, one student at a time.

Protecting and restoring land for wildlife and people

Man spraying trees after burn
A member of Belwin’s staff monitors a prescribed burn.

Belwin Conservancy’s work on the land has resulted in thriving examples of some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems, including tallgrass prairie and oak savanna. In fact, our restored prairies are some of the oldest in the region. We also protect forests, wetlands, and portions of Valley Creek, one of Minnesota’s most pristine trout streams.

Long-term and ongoing restoration activities at Belwin include prescribed burning, integrated pest management, prairie and savanna seeding, hand-pulling, seed harvesting by hand, and mechanical and chainsaw removal of invasive species to maintain prairies, savannas and woodlands. 

As a result of this work, Belwin is home to a diverse array of native plant and animal species. In the midst of a rapidly developing area, Belwin serves as a buffer for wildlife, providing healthy habitat for several rare species, like the Blanding’s turtle, the rusty patched bumblebee and the Henslow’s sparrow. In partnership with several other organizations, Belwin has helped protect over 16 percent of the Valley Creek Watershed, ensuring future generations will benefit from this regional treasure.

Inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards

Children doing science experiment
Students from Saint Paul Public Schools plant native prairie plants on a field trip to Belwin Outdoor Science.

Since its inception, Belwin has dedicated land and facilities to educational partnerships that get learners of all ages and abilities out in nature. 

Belwin Outdoor Science (BOS) is Belwin’s educational partnership with Saint Paul Public Schools. Since its formation in 1971, BOS has brought over half a million children to Belwin’s prairies and woodlands for an immersive day of science education. This experience, also extended to children from neighboring districts, amounts to 10 percent of the yearly science curriculum for Saint Paul’s third and fifth graders. In addition to mainstream students, Belwin offers adaptive outdoor education programs so students with profound physical and emotional needs can experience nature. All told, 10,000 children participate in these programs each year.

Through our partnership with Anishinabe Academy, urban Indigenous students and their families are integrating and reclaiming Native American identities, cultures and languages through authentic academic experiences. At Belwin, students and teachers work with elders from Dream of Wild Health to learn about traditional culture and medicinal plants that are found on the restored prairies and woodlands.

Providing everyone access to nature

A person wearing a pink hat and sunglasses smiles at the camera while skiing in the snow.
Photo courtesy of Jack and Kara Mulcahy.

Each year, thousands of visitors come to Belwin to experience healthy ecosystems, visit a herd of bison on our restored prairie, and attend events that offer surprising and meaningful ways to experience the natural world. Whether it’s during a break from a soccer tournament at Belwin’s Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields, an afternoon outside with the kids, or an evening stargazing with members of the Minnesota Astronomical Society at the Joseph J. Casby Observatory, Belwin makes it easy for people to explore wild places—just a stone’s throw from a major metropolitan area.

Making meaningful connections to heritage and the land

Group of people assembling art out of buckthorn
Volunteers stack bundles of buckthorn to create “Buckthorn Buffalo,” an installation by Belwin Artist in Residence Rory Wakemup.

Belwin’s Arts, Culture and Ecology program is designed to give people novel ways to experience nature through performance events, hands-on art making, and an artist-in-residence program. Since its inception in 2015, this multi-disciplinary program has invited thousands of guests to engage more deeply with the natural world at Belwin: Sculpt the dirt at Belwin’s Bison Festival, smell the pines as musicians play from above at Music in the Trees, and warm by the Winter Solstice Bonfire as you listen to stories old and new – all of these experiences take place each year at Belwin, courtesy of the Arts, Culture, and Ecology program.

Expanding our understanding of the natural world

Child doing experiment with insects
A researcher holds a sugar-water feeder and marks honey bees at Belwin.

Belwin has a long history of working with colleges and universities, other non-profit groups, and governmental agencies on research that furthers the understanding and recovery of natural systems in the Upper Midwest. Projects have included multiple-year bird migration and census studies, bison and prairie ecology, stream research on trout and aquatic insects, and water quality monitoring in Valley Creek.


From day one, Belwin’s model has been rooted in partnership and collaboration. Since our founding partnership with Saint Paul Public Schools, we have grown by working together with like-minded organizations to accomplish our mutual goals. Our existing partnerships include:

American Indian Family Center

Belwin partners with American Indian Family Center to provide access to land and traditional healing practices to Indigenous families in the east metro.

Anishinabe Academy

This partnership centers the generational transfer of Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge between Anishinabe Academy students and Indigenous elders, educators and experts, as they learn through Dakota and Ojibwe language and cultural teachings.

City of Afton

Belwin partners with the City of Afton for new land acquisition, land and natural resource protection through conservation easements, and the creation of public hiking trails.

FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging

Belwin collaborates with FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging to provide nature education and accessibility to those aging in our community, caregivers, and persons living with dementia.

Minnesota Astronomical Society

Belwin partners with Minnesota Astronomical Society by providing opportunities to explore the cosmos through the Joseph J. Casby observatory and viewing areas at Metcalf Field.

Minnesota Land Trust

Belwin and the Minnesota Land Trust have partnered to implement conservation easements permanently protecting over 843 acres of the Conservancy’s important woodland and grassland habitat.

NorthStar Bison

Belwin partners with Northstar Bison to host a herd of bison that advances prairie restoration.

The Phipps Center for the Arts

Belwin has partnered with the Phipps Center for the Arts to develop interactive art and nature activities, curate annual photo exhibits at Lucy Winton Bell, and organize art and nature workshops.

St. Croix Soccer Club & St. Croix Valley Athletic Association

Belwin partners with St Croix Soccer Club and St. Croix Valley Athletic Association through the operation of Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields.

Saint Paul Public Schools’ (SPPS) Belwin Outdoor Science Program (BOS)

Belwin partners with SPPS’ Belwin Outdoor Science Program to connect kids to nature through authentic outdoor science investigations.

Washington County

Belwin partners with Washington County to acquire land and interests in land for permanent protection and provide advanced stewardship.


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Why Belwin Matters

We spark passion for wild places through conservation, education, and immersive experiences on more than 1,500 acres in Minnesota’s Saint Croix Valley.


Main Office

1553 Stagecoach Trail South
Afton, MN 55001

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