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Conservation services and resources for partners

Hennepin County delivers a variety of conservation services to protect our land and water. The county also coordinates with partners to effectively use resources in meeting common natural resource goals.

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About the partnership

The Hennepin County natural resources partnership provides a forum for a holistic and collaborative approach to managing and protecting our land and water. Everyone is welcome to attend, especially those from cities, watersheds, agencies and organizations involved with or interested in natural resources management and protection.

Upcoming meetings

There are no meetings currently scheduled.

Sign up for partnership announcements

Sign up for our email list to receive partnership updates and meeting announcements.

RSVP and meeting topic ideas

RSVPs are encouraged. RSVP and submit meeting topic and speaker ideas to Stacey Lijewski at stacey.lijewski@hennepin.us or 612-348-9938.

Meeting presentations

August 29, 2019: Groundwater forum

The forum featured groundwater experts from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Metropolitan Council. The forum highlighted two timely opportunities and explored water-use efficiency improvements in public buildings and homes.

Topics included:

Hennepin County is the soil and water conservation district (SWCD) for the county and performs all duties and authorities of an SWCD.

Conservation services

Hennepin County provides the following soil and water conservation services throughout the county:

  • Enforcement of the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA)
  • Establishment, restoration, maintenance, and monitoring of conversation easements
  • Delivery of environmental education and outreach programs and volunteer opportunities
  • Technical assistance to local governments
  • Development and maintenance of natural resources inventories and the natural resources interactive map
  • Financial and technical assistance to landowners for natural resources projects

Natural Resources Strategic Plan

The Hennepin County Natural Resources Strategic Plan is intended to guide the county and its partners in responding to natural resource issues and developing internal and external policies, programs, and partnerships that improve, protect, and preserve natural resources.

The plan was adopted by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners on May 24, 2016.

Read the Hennepin County Natural Resources Strategic Plan (PDF) or read a summary in the natural resources strategic plan summary flyer (PDF).

Transfer of soil and water conservation duties to Hennepin County

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) issued an order (PDF) for the discontinuance of the Hennepin Conservation District (HCD) and the transfer of all district duties and authorities to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners on December 18, 2013. BWSR issued the order following their review of a petition filed by Hennepin County pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 383B.761.

As of February 12, 2014, all duties and authorities of HCD were officially transferred (PDF) to Hennepin County. Therefore, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 383B.761:

  • Hennepin County is now acting as a soil and water conservation district (SWCD) with all duties and authorities of an SWCD. The county board delegated all administrative authorities pertaining to the assumed duties to the county administrator through the adoption of County Board Action 14-0212 (PDF).
  • All contracts that HCD was a party shall remain in force, with Hennepin County being substituted as for HCD as party (MN 383B.761, subdivision 3).
  • Hennepin County is eligible for all grants that HCD was eligible for (MN 383B.761, subdivision 5).
  • Hennepin County will continue the delivery of soil and water conservation services throughout the county. Learn more about the conservation services offered by Hennepin County (PDF).

Hennepin County natural resources interactive map

About the map

The Hennepin County natural resources interactive map classifies every acre in the county in terms of land cover using the Minnesota Land Cover Classification System developed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The interactive map includes detailed natural resources information including:

  • Vegetative cover
  • Natural resource corridors
  • Soils
  • Wetlands
  • Floodplains
  • Geology
  • Topography
  • Ecological significance of an area

Using the map

Landowners are encouraged to use the interactive map to learn more about their property. For example, they could see if a planned project has potential to impact a wetland, floodplain or other significant natural resources. Landowners can also find out if part of their property is located in an identified natural resource corridor, making the property eligible for compensation to protect or restore.

Local governments should find the interactive map helpful in making every day land use decisions by being able to easily check for existing wetlands, floodplains and other natural resources on a parcel. The interactive map can also help with planning efforts to manage growth and promote the protection of remaining natural resources and open spaces.

Natural resources inventories

Hennepin County assists communities with natural resource identification, inventory, and assessment. This information allows local governments to manage growth and promote the protection and restoration of their remaining natural resources and open spaces.

Natural resources inventories were completed for each city in Hennepin County using the Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCCS) in the early 2000s. Land cover in Hennepin County is in constant flux due to development and other factors. In many cases, more refined and detailed information has been collected and analyzed since these reports were completed.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of a historic natural resources inventory or have interest in working with the county to update this information for a city in Hennepin County contact Kristine Maurer at kristine.maurer@hennepin.us.

Hennepin County provides funding through the following grant programs for natural resources projects.

Natural resources good steward and opportunity grants

Grants are available to landowners, including individuals, government organizations, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. Grant funding supports projects that preserve and restore natural areas and reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment flowing into lakes, streams and rivers while engaging residents in natural resource management issues.

Two types of grants are available:

Good steward grants

These are primarily for smaller projects that improve water quality, enhance natural areas and promote environmental stewardship to the community. A typical grant amount is $5,000 to $15,000, with a maximum amount of $25,000. Applications are accepted once per year, typically in the fall.

Opportunity grants

These are ideal for larger projects seeking to leverage multiple funding sources. These grants are intended to help partners take advantage of opportunities to implement large projects that improve water quality or preserve, establish or restore natural areas. Funds are often used for required matches for other funding sources. A typical grant amount is $25,000 to $50,000, with a maximum amount of $100,000. Applications are accepted at any time.

Learn more about the natural resources grants.

Aquatic invasive species prevention grants

Grants are available to help local units of government, nonprofit organizations, and businesses implement projects that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Grant applications are accepted once per year, typically in January.

Learn more about the aquatic invasive species preventions grants.

Healthy tree canopy grants

Grants are available to cities, affordable housing properties, schools, and non-profit organizations to enhance the county’s tree canopy.

The goals of the program are to combat threats to trees from invasive insects and disease by funding tree planting, educate the public on tree care and the importance of trees, and increase the diversity and resiliency of the tree canopy.

Learn more about the healthy tree canopy grants.

Site cleanup and assessment funds

Hennepin County supports the redevelopment of contaminated properties known as brownfields. A variety of funding is available to support the investigation and environmental assessment phase as well as managing known contamination.

Learn more about the funding available for brownfields assessment and clean up.

Projects managed by Hennepin County Public Works and Facility Services often include landscape planning. Sustainable landscape planning is fiscally and environmentally responsible.

Sustainable landscape guidelines provide direction and best management practices for implementation.

The following guidelines are tailored for Community Works, Facility Services and Transportation projects:

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