Get to know the Heart of the Continent Partnership

Thank you to all who have contributed to our Bi-National Collaboration

It has always been our feeling that it is better to invite each other around a table to incite conversation and find common ground, rather than arguing outside each other's doorway.

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 Minnesota/Ontario border. If you also feel it is worthy to work towards sustainable economic growth in a way that respects the land and the local people that work, live and play in the region, please consider donating. Drop us an email if you'd like more information or would like to be involved.

Please Donate

(Link to Backus Community Center our fiscal sponsor)

Request for 2024 Annual Dues

The Heart of the Continent Partnership works to inclusively build vibrant and resilient communities that value and protect public lands in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario   

Our Dark Sky Initiative

In the Heart of the Continent there is a combined mass of protected public lands that exceed over 5.5 million acres. Combined, it is one of the largest managed green space areas in the world, with some of the darkest skies. 


Three large public land agencies have received Dark Sky certifications from the International Dark Sky Association. Together Voyageurs National Park, Quetico Provincial Park and The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of the Superior National Forest make up one of the largest protected dark sky regions in the world. We continue to reach out to educate the importance of our dark skies for plants, animals and humans and are willing to help other areas, agencies, groups to make steps for dark sky certification.

Click pic to read more about our Dark Sky Initiative.

Our Public Lands


We have witnessed some unusual activity in the recreation and tourism industry in the past few years. Some of it has been good, but some has taken a toll on our public lands and our economy. We have also seen cases of disrespect for the local people that inhabit our region.


It has been very beneficial to have land managers from multiple agencies on both sides of the border discussing issues to help find solutions. 


Our Sister Sites Arrangement is to promote national and international cooperation for mutual benefit of all of these special places, and to enrich the experiences of the visitors and economies of surrounding communities. Most recently the Sister sites arrangement has been resigned by Superior National Forest, La Verendrye and Quetico Provincial Parks, Grand Portage National Monument, Voyageurs National Park and NE Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Click pic to read more about our Sister Sites Arrangement.

Old Rail bed along side St

More Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism and Recreation than Imaginable

The border lakes area of the Heart of the Continent has always been known for the world class canoeing and paddling opportunities.


We are also fortunate to have a large cross-country ski community with top notch trails and downhill ski resorts. We have world class fishing,

fly in hunting/fishing camps, cycling, boating, snowmobiling and hiking trails. There is an avid dog sledding community, both commercial and competitive.


Sharing ideas and expanding recreation and tourism partnerships help to identify ways we can work together across boundaries, providing sustainable recreation and tourism now and into the future. Being outside is good for you and we strive to keep our outdoors accessible.

 Bike the Heart is one example.

Click pic to learn more.

Join us to learn more -

HOCP Gathering In Grand Portage Lodge and Grand Portage National Monument February 20-24 - A "save the date'' email with more information will be sent out to membership and social media posts soon. All are welcome. Grand Portage, MN

Our Bi-National Intertwined History

The canoe routes west of Lake Superior have been the highways of trade long before borders. Before the Europeans, there is evidence of trade through the border lakes - flint, copper, shell beads, and pottery have all been found. During the fur trade, the Indigenous trades continued. The defined border created a story of new historical trade routes and the building of Fort William.


Our story has had hurdles, but trade across our borders continue to flourish. It has been said that if the Great Lakes Region was a country, it would have the 3rd largest economy in the world. 

Our individual needs throughout the Heart of the Continent region are highly reliant on each other for collective successes. 


Together, through our shared initiatives and integrated conversation, we can make this region stronger and more sustainable.

Our Geotourism Initiative


National Geographic has worked with partners to develop Geotourism WebSite MapGuides in several regions around the United States and the world, including The Heart of the Continent. 


The purpose is to capture what is unique about our history, cultural and natural landmarks; events, attractions and activities; businesses; trails; artists, artisans and storytellers as well as local legends.

This project helps to promote a region-wide vision to ensure sustainability of this interconnected ecosystem, and helps tell the story of the region through the voices of the people who live there.

Sharing Local Knowledge, Science Research

Our goal is improving understanding of natural and cultural resources across the Heart of the Continent. We do this by raising awareness of threats and management challenges to the preservation of those resources, and promoting collaboration among scientists, managers, and other partners across political, cultural, and administrative boundaries. All this so that resources can be better managed in a landscape context. 


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. More information on our 2016 and 2019 science symposiums can be found by clicking on photo above.

Your annual support has made a huge difference in helping HOCP continue its mission to sustain and celebrate this wonderful cross-border region through collaboration. Heart of the Continent believes that today, more than ever, partnerships are important as we work together to promote each other for sustainable economic successes.


Together we can create and maintain strong relationships and partnerships that share in knowledge and prosperity. Our partnership with National Geographic MapGuide Division—the Geotourism Initiative—continues to help brand our area as a world-class destination.


Public-private partnerships are vital for improving stakeholder relations, marketing, and maintaining long-term sustainability. Heart of the Continent Partnership includes stakeholders from government, private industry, tourism, local communities, non-profit clubs, organizations, and citizens. We feel partnerships for sustainable economic growth and recreation are an essential tool to improve our gateway communities and celebrate our neighbouring public lands. Our work has long-term, deeply-rooted benefits for protecting the area we live in, and the livelihood of our communities.


You may receive a formal request for dues in the mail, but you can easily contribute now online to Backus Community Center (our fiscal sponsor in International Falls) by following the link below.

We strive for a diverse leadership with sometimes opposing views, but with a common goal: to inclusively build vibrant and resilient communities that value and protect public lands in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario.  


Annual Dues Levels:

Supporting Partner:           $1000 - $5000 per year

Sustaining Partner:            $500 - $999 per year

Associate Partner:             $100 - $499 per year

Participating Partner:         $10 - $99 per year


Cheques can be written and sent to:


In Canada


Atikokan Economic Development Corporation

Attn/Memo HOCP Membership dues

Box 218, 214 Main St W. Atikokan, ON CANADA P0T 1C0


In the U.S.


Backus Community Center

Memo line - HOCP Membership Dues

900 Fifth Street, International Falls, MN 56649

Or online - click on donate to contribute to our voluntary annual dues with PayPal or credit card

Please Donate

(Link to Backus Community Center our fiscal sponsor)



Thank you so much for your Voluntary Annual Dues

Thank you for your participation and support of our work and the Heart of the Continent Partnership. Please give us a call if you have questions or concerns or would like to be more involved with our projects:

Tonia (Chair) -1-218-464-2941 or Chris (Coordinator) 1-807-598-1074.


Tonia Kittelson - Chair, Heart of the Continent Partnership

Thank you for your continued support