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Updating the Natural Resources Strategic Plan

Hennepin County is in the process of updating the Natural Resources Strategic Plan, which will define our natural resources goals and strategies for the next 10 years.

The plan guides the county’s work to improve, protect, and preserve natural resources and provides a framework for our natural resources policies, programs, and partnerships.

Findings from the first phase of community engagement

The county recently wrapped up phase 1 of community engagement for the plan.

This information gathering phase focused on creating awareness about the plan update process and understanding how the community wants to be engaged.

This phase also involved listening to what the community values about natural resources, learning about their priorities, and identifying emerging issues and concerns that should be considered in the plan.

See the findings from phase 1: information gathering (PDF).

Stay up to date

Sign up for Natural Resources Strategic Plan email updates to stay informed of the process and opportunities to provide feedback at each step.

 
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From lakes and rivers to urban parks, forests and prairies, Hennepin County has an abundance of diverse landscapes and natural resources. These natural resources provide critical habitat for wildlife, protect water quality, offer recreational opportunities, and enhance our collective quality of life.

About the Natural Resources Strategic Plan

The updated Hennepin County Natural Resources Strategic Plan will define our natural resources goals and strategies for the next 10 years.

The Hennepin County Natural Resources Strategic Plan guides the county’s work to improve, protect, and preserve natural resources and provides a framework for our natural resources policies, programs, and partnerships.

The plan guides the duties and authorities of the Soil and Water Conservation District, a role that Hennepin County fulfills. The plan also includes science and data-based information to guide staff in addressing the technical issues facing surface waters, groundwater, natural resources, wildlife, and soils of Hennepin County.

Review the current Natural Resources Strategic Plan (PDF), which was adopted by the county board in May 2016.

Hennepin County’s role in protecting natural resources

Work the county does to protect land and water resources includes:

  • Protecting and restoring natural areas, including managing and acquiring conservation easements to permanently protect the best remaining natural areas in the county
  • Protecting and restoring wetlands, including enforcing the state’s Wetland Conservation Act
  • Improving water quality by partnering with local watershed management organizations and cities
  • Preventing the spread of noxious weeds and aquatic invasive species by conducting inspections, educating residents, and working with partners on projects
  • Improving and diversifying the tree canopy by growing, planting and maintaining healthy trees, working with partners on large-scale planting events and through grants, managing threats to the tree canopy, and educating the public
  • Educating residents and providing technical and financial assistance to landowners on topics such as sustainable landscaping, agricultural best management practices, soil health initiatives, and other practices to protect water quality and wildlife habitat
  • Managing navigational buoys and public access points for several public waters, including Lake Minnetonka, Lake Independence and Lake Sarah

Watch these short videos on YouTube to learn more about Hennepin County's work to protect natural resources:

View the playlist of all videos in the series on YouTube.

Plan update process

The updated plan will seek to better align with new county initiatives, shifting demographics, and changing landscapes. This is the first opportunity to incorporate the county’s climate and racial equity priorities into the foundation of the plan.

Staff are the update process now. We anticipate four phases, each of which will include community engagement.

Staff are committed to listening to understand community values about natural resources, learn about their priorities, and identify emerging issues or concerns that should be considered in the plan.

Each phase will include opportunities for the public to offer feedback and stay up to date on the progress toward the adoption of the updated plan. A variety of engagement tools will be used throughout the process, including surveys, meetings, and one-on-one conversations. Staff will share updates on the county’s website and through social media and local news outlets.

Phases and timeline

Graphic showing the timeline and process for updating the Natural Resources Strategic Plan. Text in graphic is included in text below.

Phase 1 – Information gathering: Summer and Fall 2021

  • Create awareness about the county’s process to update the plan and gather information about how the community wants to be engaged in the plan update.
  • Listen to understand what the community values about natural resources, learn about their priorities, and identify emerging issues or concerns that should be considered in the plan.

See the results from phase 1 of community engagement (PDF).

Phase 2 – Development: Winter 2021 and Spring 2022

  • Collaborate internally to synthesize staff and public feedback and identify priorities.

  • Finalize the plan update process and draft the goals, objectives, and strategies for the plan.

  • Share the draft goals, objectives, and strategies for the plan and gather feedback on what county partners like and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Phase 3 – Review: Summer and Fall 2022

  • Complete and share the draft plan, first with county staff and leadership and then more broadly with partners and the public.

  • Host several formal and informal listening sessions to gather feedback from partners and the public.

  • Begin incorporating that feedback into the plan.

Phase 4 – Adoption: Winter 2022 and Spring 2023

  • Discuss changes with county leadership and seek feedback on remaining issues.

  • Complete final plan and submit for Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and county board approvals.

About the advisory groups

Staff are convening advisory groups comprised of county staff and external partners to provide ongoing feedback on the plan development.

County staff have formed these groups and are sharing plan content with each group as it is created.

Internal collaboration group

A group of county staff from across lines of business will provide guidance on existing partnerships within the county and suggest new opportunities for collaboration.

External partnership group

A group of external partners will include representatives from local and state government, federal agencies, local institutions, nonprofit organizations, and residents. The group will help define the plan’s vision, establish partnership goals, suggest opportunities for collaboration, and identify gaps and roles for the county’s natural resources programs and services.

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