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Conserving our working forests

by Trinity Gruenberg

Kim Berns-Melhus, Minnesota state director of The Conservation Fund (TCF) and Emilee Nelson, Minnesota representative, presented Minnesota’s Heritage Forest project to conserve working forests to the Wadena County Commissioners on December 8.

The Conservation Fund is a national non-profit with an office in Minnesota. They purchased 72,440 acres from Potlatch for $48 million in November, using no public funds. They used a “green bond” offered through Goldman Sachs for their investors to raise the funds. There are approximately 3500 acres in Wadena County that was purchased from Potlatch.

The Conservation Fund was established in 1985 and has conserved eight million acres nationwide; 300,000 in Minnesota.

Their objective is to conserve working forests. The purchase from Potlatch was the last of the working forests in the state. With the economic shift, the industrial forests are being lost and they expect to lose more in the next 10 years.

Representatives will report to the commissioners with details on the timber and trails on the lands.

The organization is tax-exempt but will pay property taxes for the next 10 years while they work with local government and organizations on what is to become of the lands.

Their project goals are to conserve the land for wildlife and recreation as well as carbon offsets while supporting local economies and timber-related jobs. The logs and timber harvested from the land will be sent to a mill. They wish to help the counties, such as Wadena County, reach their revenue and conservation goals. . .


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