September 24, 2018

The Conservation Fund Announces Appointment Of Kim Berns-Melhus As Minnesota State Director

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — With a distinguished career in land conservation spanning over three decades, Kim Berns-Melhus has been named the Minnesota state director with The Conservation Fund.

A Minnesota native, Berns-Melhus most recently served in the Senior Executive Service for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the National Director for the Easement Programs Division in Washington, D.C. In this senior management role, she managed the largest conservation easement program in the federal government, encompassing all 50 states and U.S. Territories and a portfolio of 23,000 conservation easements

Berns-Melhus also served in executive positions at the Department of the Interior for two agencies, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, providing leadership in the development of agency policy, regulations, standards, and procedures for the lands under the agencies’ jurisdictions.  Most of her career was spent with the U.S. Forest Service, where she started as a forester out of college and worked on seven different national forests in four regions as well as in the national headquarters for the agency.

“Kim’s broad experience working with private and public partners to achieve outstanding conservation will ensure the Fund’s continued success in her home state of Minnesota,” said The Conservation Fund’s President and CEO Larry Selzer.

In the early 2000s, Berns-Melhus served as a project manager for The Trust for Public Land’s federal land acquisition program in the Midwest region and led many projects benefitting both federal agencies and tribal communities.   

Steve Hobbs, The Conservation Fund’s former state director who now serves as the organization’s California Senior Project Director said: “Few have Kim’s experience working with farmers, ranchers, and forest land managers. We are thrilled to have Kim back in Minnesota!”

The Conservation Fund is currently working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Office of School Trust Lands, and the U.S. Forest Service to facilitate the exchange of more than half of the 83,000 acres of School Trust Lands within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for productive working forestland. This a multi-year effort will provide long-term revenue for public schools and preserve Minnesota’s wood basket.

Shawn Sunnarborg, Lake States Regional Manager with Potlatch Corporation stated, “We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with The Conservation Fund and we look forward to that continuing with Kim.”

Berns-Melhus is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a degree in Forestry where she completed her forestry field studies in the Black Forest of Germany. She and her husband reside on property they recently purchased in Hugo, Minnesota.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly eight million acres of land, including almost 300,000 acres in Minnesota.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |