Cross-border projects

Cross-border projects

  1. Geotourism Initiative
  2. Connecting Volunteers
  3. Regional Meetings
  4. Science and Research
  5. Sister Sites Arrangement (see below)
  6. International Community Congress (2011)
  7. Canoe the Heart (2009)
  8. Bike the Heart 2019
  9. Dark Sky Initiative

1. Geotourism Initiative

We have a partnership with National Geographic Society  designating the Heart of the Continent as a part of a growing international network of regional geotourism destinations. The results include an interactive website and mobile apps that enable visitors to see in one place the multiple attractions throughout the public lands and communities of our international region. This project is a large step in building the regional identity for and a sense of community within the Heart of the Continent. Learn more about this exciting initiative.

2. Connecting Volunteers

Make a difference by volunteering on the 5.5 million acres of public lands in the Heart of the Continent region! Volunteers help preserve public lands and waters and their flora and fauna, maintain wilderness character, maintain recreational sites, implement research & monitoring, and preserve historic & cultural features. This new web connection posts volunteer opportunities on both sides of the Minnesota/Ontario border, from Duluth to Thunder Bay, from the Iron Range to Quetico Provincial Park, and points in between.

3. HOCP’s Regional Meetings

Representatives from participating organizations meet quarterly, building relationships and developing ways to work together. The meetings rotate between various communities around the cross-border region. Typically, each meeting involves an evening lecture and discussion, followed the next day by a general meeting. Lecture topics have included: fire ecology in the HOCP region, sturgeon populations, the history and culture of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, trail archeology along the Grand Portage, and how climate change may affect the border forests. These meetings and discussions have led to an increase of knowledge and respect among the many stakeholder groups, have improved communications between organizations, and spawned new working relationships throughout the transborder region.  Upcoming meetings.

4. Science and Research

Science collaboration and exchange of research results has been a core priority of HOCP from the outset. To that end, the science committee  presents a lecture series, a database of current and past research, and offers a voluntary advisory role on approaches to science in the Border Lakes Ecoregion (the “Heart of the Continent” Region).

5. ‘Sister Sites’ Arrangement:

Improving Collaboration Among Public Land Agencies in the Heart of the Continent Region

In September 2011, the Superior National Forest, Ontario Parks Branch’s Quetico and LaVerendrye Provincial Parks, the U.S. National Park Service’s Grand Portage National Monument and Voyageurs National Park all signed a Sister Sites arrangement. (download pdf).  The overall purpose of this arrangement is to promote national and international cooperation for the mutual benefit of all these special places and to enrich the experience and training of the site personnel. Lisa Radosevich-Craig of the Superior National Forest and a steering committee member of the Heart of the Continent Partnership (HOCP) said, “This relationship will allow us all to benefit by sharing experiences and approaches to collaboration, including local efforts to work with gateway communities, regional and local economies, friends groups and partner organizations.”

This Sister Sites arrangement builds upon other national and international efforts. The arrangement fits within the tri-national MOU on Cooperation of Wilderness Conservation, signed in November 2009 by representatives of Canada, United Mexican States, and the USA in Merida, Mexico. This Sister Sites arrangement is also reinforced by President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Said Kathleen Przybylski of Voyageurs National Park and a steering committee member of the Heart of the Continent Partnership, “We are excited about our past collaborations with the agencies and all involved in the Heart of the Continent partnership and see the Sister Sites arrangement as a step forward for all of us in HOCP in our future work as international entities working together across a 5.5 million acre landscape. This arrangement helps to formalize our ties.”

In July 2023  Sister Sites Arrangement was re-signed 2022-2026 duration – see link below

2023 Sister Sites Arrangment – Signed

Sister Sites Arrangement and Official Re-signing
Shelly Patten – NE Minnesota Department Natural Resources, Thomas Hall – Superior National Forest, Trevor Gibb – Quetico Provincial Park, Heather Boyd – Grand Portage National Monument, Mike Holm – La Verendrye Provincial Park, Missing – Bob DeGross – Voyageurs National Park

Completed Projects and Initiatives

6. International Community Congress: Balancing Nature and Commerce in Communities that Neighbor Public Lands

This October 2011 workshop created 2012 follow-up projects by ten community teams. Learn more about these results.

7. Canoe the Heart of the Continent (July 2009)

The paddlers of Leg D leave Ely on July 10, bound for the Gunflint Trail
The paddlers of Leg D leave Ely on July 10, bound for the Gunflint Trail

In 2009, HOCP organized a nearly 350-mile (563 kilometers), 18-day canoe expedition across the region where 60 partners took part in paddling a 27-foot (8.2 meters) canoe as a way to meet two of its goals—build awareness of the region as an interconnected whole, and build relationships and good will among the diverse stakeholders in the region.

Along the route, community celebrations included historic, interpretive presentation, voyageur canoe rides, crafts and presentations on Non-Native Invasive Species and Leave No Trace principles. Many paddlers have commented on the lasting benefits of the trip: paddling side-by-side with someone who might have been seen as the opposition before, and now has become someone known and better understood as a potential partner. The voyage was held in conjunction of the 100th anniversaries of Quetico Provincial Park and Superior National Forest.