Forest Conservation Easements

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Acres of permanent forest conservation easements

Why Is This Important?

Private forest land makes up 45% of Minnesota's woods and benefits us in many ways. Private forest land allows for production of locally sourced wood products, outdoor recreation, clean water in lakes, rivers, and the drinking water supply, and provides quality wildlife habitat. Permanent conservation easements protect important private forest land from development and parcelization, which would result in conversion from traditional forest uses. Conservation easements protect working forests and all of their benefits for all Minnesotans.

What Is DNR Doing?

The DNR has purchased forest conservation easements on over 355,000 acres of private forest lands through the Forest Legacy Program and the Minnesota Forests for the Future Program. Both are conservation easement programs administered by the DNR Division of Forestry. Their purpose is to protect and conserve private forests lands that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. Protected land remains in private ownership and has limitations on conversion of forest to other uses. Wildlife habitat, timber production, water quality, rare species habitat, outdoor recreation, and other traditional uses are maintained. The Forest Legacy Program offers federal grant funding for easement acquisition on nationally significant forest land. The Forests for the Future Program offers competitive state funding for easements and is tailored to the unique landscape and land uses of Minnesota. The DNR is pursuing projects with landowners interested in protecting their working forests throughout the state.

Target: Acquire 1,200 acres of permanent forest conservation easements during the next fiscal year.

Minnesota Forests for the Future and its partners are exploring many potential easement opportunities. The long-term target is acquisition of 530,000 acres of forest easements by 2034.