Susan Schmidt, Minnesota state director of Trust for Public Land, stands with one of this year’s recipients of the organization’s Conservation Leadership awards, St. Louis County commissioner Frank Jewell, and Steve Christenson, Minnesota advisory board member of the Trust for Public Land. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Trust for Public Land.
Recently the Lake County News-Chronicle reported on the Heart of the Continent Partnership, a project that has brought businesses, government and non-profit organizations such as Wolf Ridge-Environmental Learning Center together with the resources and know-how of the National Geographic Society. The initiative will use interactive technology to educate and promote eco-tourism throughout the region. St Louis County commissioner Frank Jewell is among the local leaders who have embraced the project and it’s potential for drawing visitors to the area. At a ceremony March 19 at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, The Trust for Public Land announced that Jewell is one of the recipients of its sixth annual Conservation Leadership Award. The awards recognize outstanding support and leadership in protecting Minnesota land and water. Jewell was selected in part for his work with HOCP.
“The Trust for Public Land’s 2014 Conservation Leadership Award winners have been integral in protecting special places for Minnesotans to enjoy – from cities to wilderness,” said Trust for Public Land’s Minnesota state director Susan Schmidt. “These are the places our families go to gather, play, walk, fish, and enjoy nature.”
Jewell’s involvement in the Heart of the Continent Partnership showed his dedication to building relationships and connections between communities and across boundaries to promote the region, its public lands, its people and its cultural heritage.
“I signed on to the Heart of the Continent Partnership three years ago. At that point, an amazing amount of work was already being done by groups on both sides of the border, so this award really honors all of that work. I first learned about the Trust for Public Lands through my involvement with HOCP and I’m kind of amazed how interconnected our work is. So to be honored by that group is really great,” he said.
According to Jewell when he first became involved in the HOCP it seemed like a fun project but he did not know how far- reaching the partnership would become.
“There were people from Canada and the United States, local small resort owners, Friends of the Boundary Waters and Polymet,” he recalled, “this whole gamut all in the same room. And I thought, I want to be part of this.” Jewell said plans to continue his involvement with environmental issues and the HCOP.
“I have a real strong sense that when you do something to a forest or to a lake, you can almost never turn it back. We have to be really careful, and I keep that at the forefront of my mind when deciding if we should we do it or not.”