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.


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.

This is the second and largest project to be completed by the Minnesota Forest Legacy Partnership, a public-private coalition created two years ago to help conserve Minnesota’s Northwoods. In addition to the Fund, the partnership includes: the Trust for Public LandThe Nature Conservancy; the Blandin Foundation; the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce; the Minnesota Forest Resources Council; and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA).

Under a voluntary agreement, Forest Capital Partners, a private forest landowner, retains ownership as well as the right to continue to manage their land for timber production. Forest Capital Partners acquires and manages working forests across North America for long-term sustainability, including more than 290,000 acres in northern Minnesota. The company actively manages its forests under the sustainable forest management guidelines set forth by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative®.


At The Conservation Fund, we believe that well-managed forests can be both economically viable and ecologically sustainable, but like all other necessary parts of our national infrastructure, they need to be invested in and maintained. That's why, since 1985, we've protected more than a million forest acres across America. Protecting and maintaining working forests, and the communities that depend on them, remains one of our top conservation priorities.