Parks & Recreation

Duluth Natural Areas Programs

Program Overview:

The Duluth Natural Areas Program is designated by city ordinance (Chapter 2, Article XXIX) to designate certain lands with environmental value as permanently protected natural places. A link to the ordinance and the guidelines for implementing the ordinance are provided below under supporting materials. Duluth citizens have long recognized the value of these places to provide both natural resource protection and human sanctuary. Designating these lands ensures everyone in Duluth will always have access to these special places where they can appreciate nature and enjoy the outdoors. In doing so, Duluth preserves its natural heritage for the public good by:

  • Ensuring the city can better manage Duluth’s forests, streams, and wetlands
  • Supporting diversification of our region’s economy
  • Promoting the well-being and happiness of our citizens and visitors
  • Maximizing resiliency for a changing climate through the services these lands provide (e.g., controlling stormwater runoff, supporting diverse plant communities)

The City is committed to preserving in perpetuity public lands as determined in accordance with the criteria and to offer the opportunity for voluntary preservation of similar lands owned by others. These criteria include plant and animal communities, habitat for special species, natural water features, important bird habitat areas, and geologic landforms.

Additional Information about the City's Natural Areas Program:

Hartley Natural Area: 

The Hartley Natural Area includes one of the largest northern hardwood forests and wet meadows in the City. The park also has a long history of education and recreational activity related to the enjoyment, preservation and restoration of the natural environment.

Hartley Documents:

St. Louis River Natural Area Nomination:

The St. Louis River Natural Area is not contiguous; it is made up of 9 separate City-owned lands in the St. Louis River Estuary. A critically important bird flyway, this corridor of coastal wetlands and forests holds great significance to our community, our tribal partners, and the Great Lakes ecosystem.


St. Louis River Documents:

The public process for this nomination is as follows:

  • Stakeholder meeting and open house - February 2019
  • Parks and Recreation Commission Informational - March 2019
  • Planning Commission Action Requested – Approved May 2019
  • City Council Action Requested – Approved May 2019

The public process for the management plan, a requirement to finalize the nomination is as follows:

  • Natural Resource Commission Approved – December 2019
  • Parks and Recreation Commission Informational – December 2019
  • Planning Commission Action Required – January 2020
  • City Council Action Required – February or March 2020


Magney Snively Natural Area

Magney-Snively was designated as the first Duluth Natural Area in 2002. It has such ecological value that it was considered for designation as a Scientific and Natural Area by the MN DNR. Today this is a well-loved recreational and ecological treasure with two designated trout streams (Sargeant and Stewart) and several miles of Superior Hiking Trail running through it.

Magney-Snively consists of approximately 1,800 acres of 11 high quality native plant communities, one of which is the largest known Sugar Maple-Basswood forest in the area.


Magney-Snively DNAP Documents: