American woodcock, one of the many species that benefits from this forest conservation project. Photo by Jerry Oldenttel/Flickr
At A Glance
- Forests are the most species-rich habitat on earth.
- The Minnesota Northwoods conservation effort achieves important wildlife habitat protection by preventing forest fragmentation.
- The Northwoods project also protects jobs by keeping the property a working forest and ensures that the lands are open to the public for outdoor recreation.
Minnesota’s outdoor legacy is renowned. But across much of northern Minnesota, large swaths of industrial forestland—or those lands owned by timber companies—are being sold, as companies grapple with rising real estate prices and changes in the forest products industry. Timber companies traditionally have made their lands available for public use, offering the public access for outdoor recreation. In a landmark conservation deal, Minnesota has taken a major step to protect valuable wildlife habitat in its Northwoods region.
The Northwoods, one of the largest unfragmented forest landscapes in the United States, is home to dozens of species in greatest conservation need. This conservation effort achieves important wildlife habitat protection by preventing forest fragmentation. The deal also protects jobs by keeping the property a working forest. In addition, a conservation easement on the forest ensures that the lands can continue to be used by the public for outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing, hiking and cross-country skiing.
A Landmark Conservation Effort
In 2007, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that a team of public and private partners, including The Conservation Fund and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, acquired a conservation easement on more than 51,000 acres of working forest—almost 80 square miles—in Itasca and Koochiching counties, providing key habitat for the Canada lynx, gray wolf, American black duck, American woodcock and dozens of other valued species.