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Welcome to the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust

History of the Trust

The Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust was created in 1985 by a group of hunter/sportsmen from the Evansville area - Dean Elmer, Vernon Ostrom, George Larson, and Carl Madsen - who gathered with the thought of preserving a large marsh near Evansville that belonged to Alf Thompson, a descendant of pioneer settlers in the Evansville area. With the help of Mr. Thompson, the men came up with the idea to not only protect the slough, but also to promote long-term stewardship of the land and its related resources. The mission of the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust, then and now, is to preserve the land and its resources. The Trust was initially funded with contributions from the Thompson family.

The Trust Today

The Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust (PHCT), a federally tax exempt Minnesota corporation, continues to serve the counties of Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, and Pope.

Annual funding comes from membership fees, lifetime giving donations, testamentary bequests, memorials, investment earnings and fund raising projects. All membership fees and 25% of bequests and memorials are added to the Trust’s restricted funds. The earnings from the restricted fund investments plus other annual receipts are used for current spending.

PHCT strives to fulfill its mission in several ways. Each year the Trust funds entirely or provides financial assistance for conservation projects in the four county area. The Trust also partners periodically with other organizations and government to accomplish projects that cannot be done by one entity alone. PHCT provides grants for educational school programs and cooperative conservation programs. The Trust also funds education scholarships to students in conservation studies and scholarships to teachers for continuing education in environmental and conservation sciences.

Guiding the Trust

Activities, investments and spending of the trust are guided by a Board of Directors.

The 2016 officers and directors are:

Robert Peters Pope County
Steve Pauly Pope County
Lars Nelson Douglas County
Dale Stinton, Secretary Douglas County
Ranae Edwards Grant County
Andy Bye Grant County
Terry Lejcher Otter Tail County
Stephan Henry Jr, President Otter Tail County
Rick Paulsen, Treasurer At Large


Watercolor by Ross Hier, 1986. The logo of the Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust shows an upland sandpiper perched on an old hay mower. The mower rests in an odd corner of native prairie, surrounded by an array of colorful wildflowers—such is our pioneer heritage!


PHCT Motto

Our time on earth is brief, yet the land goes on forever, carrying with it the marks of each succeeding landowner. As fleeting trespassers on land that belongs to future generations, we must touch the land gently, caring for it as true stewards, so that those who assess our record will see our love and respect for the land and life. (Robert B. Oetting)