Parks & Recreation

Duluth Natural Areas Programs

Program Overview:

Duluth Natural Areas Program Brochure

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.

Supporting Materials:

St. Louis River Natural Area Nomination:

The City in partnership with the MN Land Trust is in the process of collecting plant community and bird survey data and reviewing several parcels of land across the St. Louis River Corridor to evaluate lands that meet the intention of the DNAP. From there, a nomination report will be drafted for the public process.

St. Louis River Nomination 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

Hartley Natural Area Nomination: 

The City in partnership with Hartley Nature Center is currently in the process of nominating approximately 620 acres of Hartley Park as a Duluth Natural Area. These lands include 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

 The public process schedule for this nomination is as follows:

  • Stakeholder meeting and public open house - June 2018
  • Parks and Recreation Commission Approved – August 2018
  • Planning Commission Action Requested – Approved September 2018
  • City Council Action Requested - Approved September 2018

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

  • Natural Resource Commission Action Requested - October 2019
  • Parks and Recreation Commission Informational – October 2019
  • Planning Commission Action Required – December 2019
  • City Council Action Required – January 2020

Hartley Nomination Documents:

Magney Snively Natural Area

To date, Magney Snively is the only Duluth Natural Area. It consists of approximately 1,800 acres of eleven different high quality native plant communities, one of which is the largest known Sugar Maple-Basswood forest in the area.

Magney-Snively DNAP Documents: