When timberland owner PotlatchDeltic decided to sell its rural timberlands in Minnesota, the fate of those forests and the benefits they provide to the climate, people and wildlife became uncertain. So The Conservation Fund stepped in to secure a new future for these lands.

The company’s remaining tracts in Minnesota had exceptional water quality, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers. We purchased more than 72,000 acres, called Minnesota’s Heritage Forest, through our Working Forest Fund® in 2020 and began working with local partners to determine conservation outcomes that would balance environmental protection, economic benefits and opportunities for climate change mitigation.

Approximately 28,000 acres (44 square miles) of the forest fell within the reservation boundaries of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. We saw a unique opportunity to restore those acres to the Bois Forte Band, who were both eager and ready to sustainably manage the land for economic, cultural and environmental purposes.


As a mission-driven national nonprofit, The Conservation Fund is focused on creating lasting solutions for naturally and culturally important lands that make sense for the environment and communities.

Protecting and ensuring U.S. working forests stay forested is a top priority because our forests provide a multitude of vital benefits – including clean air and water, mitigating the effects of climate change, and providing wildlife habitat, forestry jobs, revenue streams and recreational opportunities. We collaborated with the Bois Forte Band and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation to create an outcome for this portion of Minnesota’s Heritage Forest that provides the Band with an important revenue stream through sustainable land management, all while advancing the Fund’s mission to conserve more of the lands that matter most for wildlife and people, along with economic and cultural vitality.


Over the past few decades, much of Minnesota’s industrial forestland has been subdivided and converted to non-forest uses due to changing land uses and economic forestry conditions. By reuniting these 28,000 acres with the Bois Forte Band and ensuring the long-term stewardship of these forests, we honor the heritage of this land. Moreover, we respect the Band as the best possible caretakers for this forestland, and we celebrate together this historic land restoration.

Photo courtesy of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe

The importance of this transaction to the Bois Forte Band cannot be overstated. The Band first sought to safeguard their land by entering into a treaty with the United States in 1854. Twenty years later, the federal government set aside that treaty so it could subdivide the Band’s land, selling it to timber companies and homesteaders. When we learned how we could help the Band regain 21% of its homeland as outlined in that 1854 treaty, securing forever what should have been secured 168 years ago, we were compelled to act.

The Band has an unquestionable commitment to do what’s best for the forest. And now, for the first time since the 1800s, the future of this forestland is a story that will be told by Bois Forte Band.