Minnesota’s iconic northern forests are home to some of Minnesota’s most storied species and provide unique outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities. Unfortunately, as the development of forest lands has accelerated over the years, the extensive network of wildlife habitat and publicly accessible open space in northern Minnesota has been threatened.
Working to reverse this trend, the Minnesota Land Trust, along with The Conservation Fund, St. Louis County Lands & Minerals Department, and PotlatchDeltic Corporation, celebrated the transfer of 4,379 acres of PotlatchDeltic land to St. Louis County. Under county management, this forest land will increase opportunities for public access for recreation, hunting, and fishing — all while providing natural habitat for Minnesota’s wildlife and sustainable wood harvest.
Every year in Minnesota, thousands of acres of this natural habitat are developed, subdivided, or degraded. This reduces habitat available for many of Minnesota’s iconic forest wildlife species and can lead to increased runoff in our rivers, lakes, and streams. The Minnesota Forest Resources Council identified parcelization of industrial forest lands as the primary threat to the ecological and economic health of Minnesota’s forests. To ensure healthy game and non-game wildlife, and to maintain historic public access points for hunting and fishing for future generations, the integrity of large forest tracts must be preserved.
Faced with this challenge, the Minnesota Land Trust and The Conservation Fund collaborated with St. Louis County to protect some of the largest blocks of remaining forest land by purchasing the land from the PotlatchDeltic.
“PotlatchDeltic was one of the largest private industrial forest landowners in St. Louis County, and the impact of that land being sold and developed would reverberate across the North Woods,” said Daryl Peterson, director of restoration programs with the Minnesota Land Trust. “Once land is sold off to a hundred different parties, it is nearly impossible to manage the incredible forest ecosystems native to northern Minnesota.”
With funding from the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, The Conservation Fund and the Minnesota Land Trust were able to successfully purchase and donate the land to St. Louis County for permanent and sustainable forest management.
“We’ve worked with PotlatchDeltic since 2013 to protect working forestlands that support northern Minnesota’s long tradition of timber production and outdoor recreation,” said Kim Berns-Melhus, The Conservation Fund’s Minnesota state director. “With this transaction and others underway, including our 72,000-acre Minnesota’s Heritage Forest, this partnership has been the catalyst to conserve more than 200,000 acres in the state of Minnesota for various conservation purposes, including forestry jobs, protection of important habitats and public access.”
“This sale is another favorable outcome for Minnesotans that is related to our close working relationship with The Conservation Fund,” said Bill DeReu, Vice President of Real Estate for PotlatchDeltic. “This property is ideal for conservation and working forest protection, similar to our recent sale of 72,000 acres called ‘Minnesota’s Heritage Forest,’ as well as our ongoing ‘Plan B School Trust Lands’ project in St. Louis County that benefits the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. PotlatchDeltic values environmental stewardship, and we are proud to work with The Minnesota Land Trust and The Conservation Fund toward conservation outcomes like these that have positive impacts on jobs, wildlife and public use.”
These lands will be made available for public use, including hunting and fishing, just like other County-owned and managed lands in St. Louis County.
“The lands transferred to St. Louis County by the Minnesota Land Trust through the Northern Forest Habitat Conservation Project grant are truly special and will benefit the residents/citizens of the county and the state of Minnesota,” said Jason Meyer, Deputy Director of Forest Resources at the St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department. “The 4379 acres acquired consists of large, contiguous blocks of northern forests which will be permanently maintained by the county for sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat, water quality and will be available to the public for outdoor recreation. The county appreciates and is grateful for the efforts undertaken by the Minnesota Land Trust who, in concert with The Conservation Fund, partnered in making this land transaction happen. County foresters will be visiting these lands over the coming months to assess the condition of the forest and public access opportunities in the development of sustainable management plans. This project is a valuable enhancement to the public forest lands of St. Louis County.”
In the long term, these contiguous parcels of land will provide important habitat for species such as white-tailed deer, gray wolves, Canada lynx, and ruffed grouse, a favorite game species of hunters that travel to northern Minnesota each fall to enjoy the remote hunting experience. Sustainable forest management provided by the County will ensure this land remains high-quality habitat, and publicly accessible — forever.
“This is the largest land protection project in the history of the Minnesota Land Trust,” added Kris Larson, executive director of the Minnesota Land Trust. “Thanks to our partners and supporters, we can today celebrate an incredible addition to our state’s legacy of conservation and care for our great outdoors.
Forward Looking Statements
This communication contains statements that are forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, without limitation, statements regarding PotlatchDeltic’s real estate strategy and expected real estate closings in Minnesota. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof, are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that any of the events anticipated by these forward-looking statements will occur. If any of the events occur, there is no guarantee of the effect they will have on PotlatchDeltic’s operations, financial condition or results of operations. The company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements after the date of this news release.