The Heart of the Continent Partnership (HOCP) is a Canadian/American coalition of land managers and local stakeholders working together on cross-border projects that promote the economic, cultural and natural health of the lakes, forests and communities on the Ontario/Minnesota border. Representing a broad array of organizations, the partnership seeks to develop a common identity and sense of belonging. Click here to find out more about our history.

Please consider helping us out by donating through voluntary annual dues – REQUEST FOR DUES 

HOCP Gathering at Grand Portage Lodge  –  February 20-21 2024 – Agenda/Invite/Registration click here

Notes will be posted soon from the Winter Gathering    It was a true pleasure to return to Grand Portage, a place where so many good things have happened with the Heart of the Continent Partnership

Links to the short videos  that were watched at our Gathering

Below are links to short films that are worth watching. These are great if you or your organization are interested in learning about global and local light pollution, astrophotography , and the benefits of dark skies.

v Why We Need Dark Skies (National Park Diaries – (15 minute run time)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQDLhHLByf8

v Losing the Dark – A short (6:00 minute) film by Dark Sky International

(formerly the International Dark Sky Association): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd82jaztFIo&list=PLwHEmqG4ZaZoceCvvfStZj3Sv06vmxqMI

v Dark Sacred Night (Office of Sustainability at Princeton University – (16 minute run time)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW0WZX75Nmo&t=154s

v Why No One Can See the Stars Anymore (12 minute run time)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJXsIeqOKT0&t=11s

v Where Are the Stars? See how light pollution affects night skies (3 minute run time)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FXJUP6_O1w

Full length documentary: Northern Nights, Starry Skies – https://youtu.be/1oRYrt21bbw?si=bftm5xCkViuR2V7p


HOCP Gathering at Fort William Historical Park during the 50th Anniversary and Great Rendezvous


Online Forum from Spring 2021

HOCP Shared Lands Forum – Media Release – FINAL

A recording of our April 23rd Spring Online Forum can be found on YouTube 


Notes from the HOCP Winter Gathering at Quetico Lodging and Conference Centre January 17th 2020.    Click here for more information.

An International Treasure!

Spanning the international border between northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario lies an international treasure: the largest expanse of public green-space in the heart of North America.

Heart of the Continent Area

This 5.5 million acre (2.2 million hectares) landscape comprises a blend of working forest, rugged scenery, pristine watersheds, abundant wildlife and outstanding biodiversity. Several separately managed natural areas are encompassed by this ecosystem at the “heart of the continent,” including Quetico Provincial Park, Superior National Forest (including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness), Voyageurs National Park, Grand Portage National Monument and numerous Minnesota state forest lands and parks and Ontario provincial parks. Click here to see the map.

Current Projects

Heart of the Continent – Dark Skies Initiative

With guidance from International Dark Sky Association – Starry Skies Lake Superior, the National Park Service Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, Ohio Northern University, and the cooperation of our public land managers, Heart of the Continent Partnership continues to work as stewards of a large regional dark sky area. 

*In Sept 2020, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of the Superior National Forest was awarded Dark Sky Sanctuary status, the first-certified Minnesotan site and first federally designated wilderness site. The BWCAW is only the 13th location in the world to gain this unique title and at 1,098,000 acres in size, it became the largest.

*In December 2020 the International Dark Sky Association were pleased to announce the certification of Voyageurs National Park as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes Voyageurs National Park for the exceptional quality of its dark night skies.

*February 2021 – Ontario Parks is pleased to announce Quetico Provincial Park has been designated an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). Quetico becomes the 3rd public land in the Heart of the Continent region to receive certified dark sky status

In 2023 we continued talks at our Gathering at Fort William Historical Park  of the continued stewardship for our Dark Sky designated areas and possible future applications for dark sky status in the region’s public land and communities. In 2024 we held a Winter Gathering in Grand Portage that included evening talks of the benefits of dark skies with educational films and conversations of astrophotography. 

Click here to see some of the work being done to preserve dark skies.


Heart of the Continent – Science Symposium – see info and links to past Science Symposiums

Our last science symposium was  held April 8-9 2019 in Duluth Minnesota. Heart of the Continent’s Science Committee is continuing its mission to build and strengthen a coalition of scientists, land managers, and stakeholders dedicated to the preservation of natural and cultural resources across the Heart of the Continent landscape.

Click here to find out more about the 2019 Science Symposium.

Science Partnership : Promoting collaboration among scientists, managers, and other stakeholders across political, cultural, and administrative boundaries. 




Bike the Heart In 2019Heart of the Continent Partnership in conjunction with local shops  clubs and biking enthusiasts hosted a series of rides late summer and early Fall to showcase the favourite trails and popular routes throughout the Heart of the Continent  – See the page on TravelTheHeart Geo-tourism WebSite -MapGuide  that is being created to showcase each ride. A continued interest and small events have happened in 2020 and 2021 and we are hoping to revive our Bike The Heart series again soon

Click here to find out more about Bike the Heart.

Contact  Frank Jewel [email protected] or Andy Hubley [email protected]    for more information or if you or your club would like to become involved   

Geo-tourism Initiative 

HOCP is partnering with National Geographic Society to create a regional geotourism initiative, including a map and website. Our goal is to increase visitation, build support for the region, and build community among those who care for it.

Click here to find out more about the Geo-tourism Initiative.



We are working with organizations to find ways to connect individuals and groups to benefit our public lands 
USFS and Ontario Parks working with Northwoods Volunteer Connection