In 2005, the Blandin Foundation awarded $6.25 million in seed capital and program support to create a fund to purchase conservation easements on up to 75,000 acres of forestland in the Itasca County Area.
Partnering organizations include: The Conservation Fund, Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, MN Deer Hunters Association, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, MN Dept of Natural Resources, and Minnesota Forest Industries.
Goals of the partnership include:
In March 2009, the Blandin Foundation awarded $7 million in grant support of the Upper Mississippi Forest (UMF) conservation easement; the deal closed in July 2010. At 187,000 acres, the UMF easement is Minnesota's largest land conservation project to date.
Today over 240,000 acres of Minnesota's industrial forestland are in three working forest conservation easements: Sugar Hills, Koochiching-Washington and the Upper Mississippi Forest, forever protecting these lands from development, and providing public access for all to enjoy. All three easements are monitored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.