Dakota County Riparian and Lakeshore Protection and Management , Phase 3
$480,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Dakota County to acquire permanent conservation easements and restore and enhance habitats along the Mississippi, Cannon, and Vermillion Rivers. A list of proposed acquisitions, restorations, and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. The accomplishment plan must include an easement stewardship plan. Up to $20,000 is for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund and a description of annual monitoring and enforcement activities.
Restored 220 acres and protected in easement 84 acres of habitat.
Dakota County and watershed district
This project acquired 84 acres of conservation easements along the Mississippi, Cannon and Vermillion Rivers. Through amendments, the acquisition acreage was decreased from the original proposal, due to landowner changes and project withdrawals. This project also restored/enhanced 220 acres within associated habitat corridors. Through amendments, the restoration/enhancement acres were increased from the original proposal by adding specific restoration projects.
Through the County Farmland and Natural Areas Program, the ShoreHolders Program, and now combined Land Conservation Program, Dakota County has been protecting high-quality natural areas for wildlife habitat and improved water quality, outside its regional park system, since 2003.As with many conservation acquisition efforts, during the term of this grant, modifications were made to accommodate evolving circumstances. As a result of this Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) grant, Dakota County focused on five conservation easements that protected 84 acres of wooded and grassland riparian areas, 26 acres of which surrounds ponds, wetlands and small lakes in the City of Rosemount, 19 acres of which are along Chub Creek in Waterford Township, and 39 acres of which are along the Vermillion River in Empire and Vermillion Townships. Through these easements, over three miles of shoreline was protected, including over 1.5 miles of the Vermillion River, over one mile of which is part of the designated trout stream portion of the river. Approximately $128,200 of landowner donations of easement value helped fund the protection of these areas. Conservation easements are a valuable tool to achieve permanent land protection, while not removing the land areas from the local tax base.Regarding restoration efforts, the County was successful in getting restoration projects at least started and completed on several properties. The County requires not only Natural Resource Management Plans (NRMPs) for each natural area easement, but is now requiring that landowners sign a Management Agreement (MA) that outlines restoration and maintenance activities, who is responsible, and how each activity will be funded, using cost estimates. Getting these agreements in place, while simultaneously executing consultant contracts for some of them proved to be too much; and although all were completed prior to the June 30 funding deadline, much of the proposed restoration work was not completed. That said, the County was able to get significant amounts of restoration work completed by the funding deadline. Restoration work involved enhancement of 235 acres of properties that include almost eight miles of shoreline.