With much of Minnesota’s industrial forestland subdivided and converted to non-forest uses over the past few decades due to changing economic conditions, we saw an opportunity to collaborate with PotlatchDeltic to achieve both conservation and economic benefits. Proceeds from The Conservation Fund’s first-ever green bonds will enable us to protect tens of thousands of acres of working forests, support northern Minnesota’s long tradition of timber production and bolster the state’s outdoor recreation economy which generates $16.7 billion in consumer spending each year.1 


Our Role

We began working with PotlatchDeltic in 2013 to acquire key tracts from the company and implement conservation solutions that protect important habitats, provide public access and offer community benefits. In 2020, we acquired PotlatchDeltic’s remaining acreage in Minnesota—72,000 acres called Minnesota’s Heritage Forest—to ensure these lands remain forested and are sustainably managed as working timberlands.  

As one of the largest land conservation acquisitions in recent state history, our purchase provides time for the development of permanent conservation strategies that will preserve working forestland, safeguard jobs, and help mitigate climate change. It will also protect water quality and wildlife habitat, contribute to local economies and allow recreational access. We are working with county, state, tribal and local governments to determine the best conservation and sustainable management outcomes for the forestland, with the goal of transferring ownership to public and tribal entities over the course of the next decade. 

This project is part of our Working Forest Fund®—an innovative program dedicated to mitigating climate change, strengthening rural economies and protecting natural ecosystems through the permanent conservation of at-risk working forests across America.

Why this project matters

31,000 acres of Minnesota’s Heritage Forest are in the headwaters area of the Mississippi River, which supports more than 350 species, including many of the endangered, threatened and rare species listed in Minnesota, like the northern long-eared bat, red-shouldered hawk and Blanding’s turtle. This project is also located within the Mississippi River flyway, a vital migration corridor providing connectivity for nearly half of North America’s bird species and about 40 percent of ducks and other waterfowl. Keeping these lands forested will help to protect critical habitats that serve as climate resilient strongholds and play an essential role in supporting wildlife movement and diversity now and into the future. 




With much of this land adjacent to existing public lands, their protection will build on the network of large, conserved landscapes and undivided forests that are essential to the ecology of the region and provide important habitat corridors for wildlife. In addition, the sustainable management of biologically diverse forests like these helps build resiliency and adaptability to stresses caused by changing environmental conditions, including climate change. The project will also provide an opportunity to add land to county-owned working forests, preserving jobs and keeping timber revenue in local communities.  

Approximately 31,600 acres of Minnesota’s Heritage Forest are located within the reservation boundaries of two bands of the Minnesota Ojibwe Tribe (also referred to as Chippewa)—the Bois Forte Band and the Leech Lake Band. Our purchase offers these two communities the time and opportunity to develop and implement strategies to acquire, own and sustainably manage the lands for economic, cultural and environmental benefits. 

With this transaction and others, the partnership between PotlatchDeltic and The Conservation Fund has been the catalyst to conserve more than 200,000 acres in the state of Minnesota for a variety of conservation purposes. 

WE NEED YOUR HELP

The Conservation Fund and its partners are actively raising funds for permanent conservation solutions for these lands. For more information about how you can support the conservation of Minnesota’s Heritage Forest please contact Wendy Taylor.

 

 

1www.outdoorindustry.org/state/minnesota