Our Cause

Our Vision

The next seven generations of Minnesotans will continue to enjoy our lakes and rivers as they do today. Our lakes will still have clear waters, productive fisheries, healthy waterfowl, and robust native aquatic plant and animal communities. All these will be sustained by a system of Freshwater Conservation Zones (FCZs).


We will create a sustainable system of Freshwater Conservation Zones (FCZs) that includes at least 500 lakes and rivers. This is the best way to ensure that the natural resilience, beauty and value of Minnesota’s aquatic systems and fisheries is preserved for generations to come.

The Problem

The health of Minnesota’s waters and fisheries is eroding rapidly -- and we risk losing our heritage. Current efforts to stop this erosion are failing because they are neither holistic nor realistic. In particular, current efforts fail to recognize both the complexity and severity of the problem, which is attributable to at least 6 highly interrelated factors:
  • declining water quality
  • climate change
  • overdevelopment
  • loss of large fish
  • loss of surface water
  • the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS)
These factors are completely inseparable: all of them must be solved simultaneously to save our waters and fisheries, yet we seem focused on small, individual pieces of the problem. That is not enough.

The Solution: Freshwater Conservation Zones

The Fish and Waters Conservation Fund sees things differently.

We need a new approach to protect our precious fresh waters and their fisheries—one with real scientific teeth. We need to acknowledge the challenges before us and meet them head on, rather than ignoring them and hoping that things will get better.

We need to set aside select waters and explicitly protect them as Freshwater Conservation Zones (FCZs). That way, we can safeguard a few key waterways from the most damaging of our activities.

Fish will have a place to grow and reproduce, aquatic plants will have room to grow and provide critical habitat to other species, and our lakes will be better equipped to absorb environmental changes. This means more and bigger fish, healthier lakes, and sustainable habitat for years to come.

This is not a new concept—there are 14,000 marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world right now. They protect and now enhance at least 4% of the world’s oceans. And every month, more MPAs are founded to deal with the problems facing our world’s oceans and fisheries. The programs are working.

These Conservation Zones would be carefully selected and managed using good science, policy, and stakeholder input. By including land easements, could address all factors (water quality, climate change, overdevelopment, overfishing and AIS) that we can’t control with current policies. They would be governed by local councils including anglers with the help of the DNR.

Why not take an idea that works, and apply it to lakes and rivers? Minnesota can lead the charge on saving our freshwater systems. We can launch Freshwater Conservation Zones in Minnesota today. What we set into motion could change the course of our rivers and lakes—we have the opportunity right now to save our waters for generations to come.

Join Us!

The FWCF exists to buck the trend.
We can conserve our freshwater ecosystems in Minnesota and beyond. Let's do something new together.

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