Hennepin County Habitat Conservation Program, Phase 1
$1,514,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with
Hennepin County, in cooperation with Minnesota
Land Trust, to acquire permanent conservation
easements and to restore and enhance habitats in
Hennepin County. Of this amount, $194,000 is to
Hennepin County and $1,320,000 is to Minnesota
Land Trust. Up to $192,000 to Minnesota Land Trust
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 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 following metrics will be tracked annually to evaluate the success of the Program: acres protected; acres restored and enhanced; adapted connectivity indices (terrestrial, aquatic, and riparian); and suitability of protected acres for use by species of greatest conservation need..
Hennepin County, Landowner Donation
Hennepin County and Minnesota Land Trust in partnership with willing landowners, propose to permanently protect 161 acres through conservation easements, and restore and enhance 70 acres of critical habitat. Intense development pressure is a persistent threat to remaining high quality habitat in Hennepin County. This first phase of the Hennepin County Habitat Conservation Program will use Hennepin County's recently-adopted conservation easement program to actively pursue protection of priority lands and facilitate habitat restoration and enhancement on new and existing permanently protected lands.
The Twin Cities metro area is rapidly losing critical, high-quality and diverse habitat for migrating waterfowl, canopy-dwelling and grassland birds, game birds, pollinators and other wildlife.Over the past 15 years Hennepin County in partnership with its cities has used extensive field work and the Minnesota Land Classification System Methodology to assess and inventory every acre of land in the county and document the quality of the associated natural communities. This assessment resulted in the identification of ecologically significant areas and natural resource corridors that connect areas of significant habitat across the county. In total, ecologically significant areas and corridors account for about 60,000 acres of land, of which only 31 percent is permanently protected. Using these rich datasets, this program has established focus areas for protection, restoration and enhancement. The Hennepin County conservation easement program adopted in 2016 established a process for the systematic protection of these focus areas and the remaining forests, prairies, and wetlands associated with them. Over the next 20 years, the county plans to permanently protect 6,000 additional acres. This means that by 2037, 41 percent of the county's best remaining natural areas (24,600 acres) will be permanently protected, totaling just over 6 percent of the total land area in the county. This proposal – phase 1 of the Hennepin County Habitat Conservation Program will accomplish 2.5 percent (161 acres) of this long-term objective and will lay a strong foundation of community outreach that will facilitate an increased pace of protection in future phases as the Program becomes established.Hennepin County, working in partnership with the Minnesota Land Trust, will take a three-pronged approach to land protection that builds on the strengths of the respective partners. In addition to managing the program, Hennepin County will use its connections to the community to cultivate interest among landowners within the highest priority natural resource target areas. The county will work with its 11 watershed organizations and 45 cities to identify easement opportunities and build landowner connections. The Minnesota Land Trust will bring the experience of its land protection and legal team to negotiate the purchase of conservation easements with landowners. An RFP approach similar to what the Land Trust has used in other areas will identify high value protection opportunities and encourage a competitive marketplace for scarce monetary resources. All opportunities for easement acquisition will be scored and ranked based on three factors: ecological significance (quantity and quality of habitat, landscape context), level of threat to the property, and overall cost (funding required by the landowner to complete the project).