Overview: The Koochiching-Washington Forest Legacy Project is the single largest conservation project in Minnesota in at least a decade. The project will protect jobs, preserve wildlife habitat, and ensure public access for outdoor recreation.
Location: The Koochiching-Washington Forest Legacy Project is located in Itasca and Koochiching counties in and near Koochiching State Forest and George Washington State Forest.
Landowner: The landowner, Forest Capital Partners, is a private forest landowner that acquires and manages working forests across North America for long-term sustainability, including more than 290,000 acres in Minnesota.
Conservation Value: This project conserves wildlife habitat by maintaining working forests and avoiding forest fragmentation. The conserved lands are located near 439,658 acres of state-owned land and serve as a critical link in creating a conservation area that approaches 500,000 acres in size. As many as 81 of Minnesota's 292 species classified as species of greatest conservation need (declining, rare or vulnerable in the state) will benefit from this project, including Canada lynx, gray wolves, American black ducks, American woodcock, neotropical migratory birds, and several songbird species.
Significant Features: Features include coniferous forest and peatland; 13 lakes and more than 90 ponds totaling 46.9 miles of shoreline; 43.5 miles of rivers and streams; and 18,971 acres of wetlands.
Recreational Opportunities: Recreational opportunities include hunting (the property can accommodate an estimated 1,100 deer hunters a year), fishing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Snowmobiles and ATV use will continue as is subject to future trail designation on the property.
Purchase Price: Forest Capital Partners was paid $12 million to permanently protect the property from development, including $6.6 million in public bond funds appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature. and $5.4 million from The Nature Conservancy, including gifts from the Blandin Foundation ($4 million), the Conservation Fund ($500,000), and a variety of other sources including the Surdna Foundation. The Conservation Fund's contribution came from a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which supports wildlife habitat conservation.
Partners: The Minnesota Forest Legacy Partnership includes the Blandin Foundation, the Conservation Fund, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, The Nature Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land.