Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor
Washington County's Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor contains one of the largest unprotected wildlife habitat complexes within the metropolitan area and has been identified as one of the County's top conservation priorities. The Minnesota Land Trust and Washington County will protect 369 acres of the Corridor's most threatened, high quality forest and aquatic habitat in this first phase of the project. This project represents a unique opportunity to conserve intact habitat of this magnitude within the LSOHC's Metropolitan Urbanizing Area, and includes nearly 5 miles of shoreline and supports 70 species in greatest conservation need.
The Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor has long been a conservation target of Washington County, DNR, Minnesota Land Trust and other conservation organizations due to its rich forest habitat and its abundant clear lakes which are currently completely undeveloped—a rare feature in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. The Minnesota Land Trust and Washington County have formed a partnership to complete this first phase of the Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor Project by securing a perpetual conservation easement on 369 acres which forms the critical core of the larger 2,700 acre Corridor. We intend to complete the full 735-acre project as initially proposed through additional leverage from program partners and existing OHF grants to the Land Trust (Metro Big Rivers 5, 6 and 7), with outcomes split proportionately among this (369 acres) and these other associated grants (366 acres).This first phase of the Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor Project, known as the “Terrapin Lakes Site”, will cover 369 acres of high quality habitat and more than 5 miles of shoreline that Warner Nature Center will own at the time of the easement. This project will ensure that the core wildlife habitat area of the Corridor will be protected forever from development, fragmentation and poor land management. This project represents a unique window in time due to having a motivated landowner in Warner Nature Center and to Washington County's commitment to dedicate funds from its Land and Water Legacy Fund. There is nothing that currently legally protects the property from development. The terms of the conservation easement will ensure the property's protection for generations to come. This first phase of the project at the Terrapin Lakes Site is specifically noted as having: • Oak and maple-basswood forest habitat identified as having high-quality biodiversity by the DNR due to its undisturbed canopy and significant age;• High biodiversity for species in greatest conservation need such as Blanding's Turtle, the Common Snapping Turtle and Eastern Fox Snake, the Red-shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, and American Woodcock;• Nearly 5 miles of shoreline and riparian habitat on North and South Terrapin, Mays and Clear Lakes;• High quality water discharge and recharge areas which help maintain aquatic habitat and water quality; and• High quality undeveloped shallow (Upper Terrapin) and deep (Mays and Lower Terrapin) lakes.This project represents an urgent and important protection opportunity due to the landowner's current interest in conservation and to the commitment of Washington County to participate in funding the project through its Land and Water Legacy Program. We anticipate >50% of the easement's acquisition costs to be funded by non-state sources, making this a very high leverage project for the Outdoor Heritage Fund. And while the project will not specifically require public access, more than 15,000 children and adults experience the site's unique and abundant wildlife habitat each year through Warner Nature Center's programs.
$2,458,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Minnesota Land Trust to acquire permanent conservation easements in Washington County. Of this amount, up to $30,000 is for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of proposed permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - The focal project area is captured within the Carnelian Creek Conservation Corridor and intersects with the Tanglewood Conservation Corridor, both of which are priority conservation targets for Washington County. Conservation plans for both corridors have been developed and are being used to target conservation action. The outcomes of this action to protect this core area will be measured and evaluated relative to the encompassing goals of those corridor plans..
Washington County; Landowner, MLT