Dakota County Habitat Protection/Restoration Phase VI
$2,288,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with Dakota
County to acquire permanent conservation easements
and lands in fee and to restore and enhance
riparian and other habitats in Dakota County. A
list of proposed land acquisitions and
restorations and enhancements 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 County has developed an integrated, long-term habitat protection system involving public and private land to provide multiple public benefits. Enlarging and improving existing protected habitat complexes and providing key connections will continue to be a focus. The County will prioritize its land protection and improvement efforts, based in part, on wildlife species by devoting staff time and resources to create baseline wildlife and habitat quality information, and monitor indicator and other species seasonally/annually to determine if County efforts are producing the desired results over time and to adapt or re-prioritize as appropriate..Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - A small portion of the County is included in this region. The County will prioritize its land protection and improvement efforts, based in part, on priority wildlife species. The County will devote staff time and resources to create baseline wildlife and habitat quality information, and monitor indicator and other species seasonally/annually to determine if County efforts are producing the desired results over time and to adapt or re-prioritize as appropriate. .
This project will emphasize restoring and enhancing approximately 260 acres of various permanently protected habitats, and acquiring approximately 154 acres of permanent conservation easements or fee title. Project sites include Lake Byllesby Regional Park, land adjacent to Regional Park Reserves and Regional Greenways, Chub and Marcott Lakes, rivers and streams, and hydric soil areas. Habitats will include forest, grassland, wetland, and riparian areas throughout the County. This initiative will provide initial targeted and anticipated projects, and also provide flexibility for opportunities that cannot be anticipated at the time of submittal.
Historic settlement, modern-day suburban development, and modern agriculture have replaced, degraded and fragmented natural resource systems throughout Dakota County. Nearly every monitored waterbody in the County is impaired, and many larger scale habitats have been reduced to small remnants. These large-scale impacts and trends require a comprehensive, collaborative, long-term approach to maintain and improve the County’s natural resource heritage and associated benefits. Approved County plans have identified the a two-year, self-funded highest quality natural areas and key connections, integrated sound fiscal and ecological approaches that attempts to balance the interests, rights and responsibilities of private landowners, to address the public’s concerns about water and habitat.The County has effectively worked with a variety of agencies, jurisdictions, organizations, and private landowners to implement comprehensive habitat protection since 2003 when it began implementing its Farmland and Natural Areas Protection Plan. The 2008 Vermillion River Corridor Plan provided a basis for riparian system land protection. These and other programs are now blended into a comprehensive Land Conservation Program that includes regional parks and multi-purpose greenways, natural areas, shoreland, and agricultural lands. The County developed conservation policy, increased staff, and refined project evaluation criteria and practices. The County has provided funding to assist the DNR in establishing new Wildlife Management Areas, Aquatic Management Areas and Scientific and Natural Areas and has acquired 112 conservation easements. Excluding additional habit in newly acquired park and greenway land, the County has now protected over 11,282 acres.All easements require Natural Resource Management Plans (NRMPs) that reflect existing ecosystem health and recommend potential restoration management strategies, including work plans and budgets. A Management Agreement is signed by the landowner and County, identifying NRMP priorities, activities, responsibilities, costs and schedules. The proposed habitat restoration and enhancement projects in this funding request are based on these these and new work plans. On May 23, 2017, the County Board approved a two-year, self-funded, Natural Resource Management System Plan for significantly investing additional County funds to increase management within all park, greenways and easements. The NRMSP will have direct and indirect benefits to fish, game and wildlife, beyond the increased and interconnected terrestrial habitat.The acquisition projects proposed and anticipated within this funding request involve riparian areas along the Mississippi River, Cannon River (including Dutch, Mud, Chub, Darden and Pine Creeks, and Trout Brook) and Vermillion River (including North, Middle and South Creeks, the South Branch and their tributaries). Additional habitat focuses include Marcott and Chub lakes, Hampton and McMenomy Woods, hydric soil areas, and other high quality habitat areas.Environmental Audits and/or Phase I Assessments are completed for all projects. Each easement is annually monitored with information is entered into a temporary land management data base that is in the process of being updated.Restoration and enhancement activities would occur immediately on existing protected land; and for new acquisitions, would begin appropriately in the spring or fall following acquisition.The Dakota County Board approved this proposal submission by Resolution No. 17-287 on May 23, 2017.