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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.

We need your input

We all play a role in protecting our natural resources, and we need to hear from you as we update the Natural Resources Strategic Plan. We will be seeking input from the community throughout the year-long plan development process to ensure your values and priorities are reflected.

Current feedback opportunities: take our survey to share your priorities

Take our survey to help shape priorities and let us know how you would like to be engaged in the update of the plan.

The survey is available in:

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

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

Phase 2 – Development: Winter 2021

  • Share the draft goals, objectives, and strategies for the plan and gather feedback on what the community likes and areas for improvement.
  • Gather feedback on what the community likes and areas for improvement to inform the drafting of the plan.
  • Conduct county board briefing.

Phase 3 – Review: Spring 2022

  • Share the draft plan and seek more detailed comments on plan’s contents.
  • Review the feedback received and make final edits to the plan.
  • Discuss changes with commissioners and seek feedback on remaining issues.
  • Submit for board consideration and adoption.

Phase 4 – Adoption: Summer and Fall 2022

  • Conduct final public comment process where the board will consider any final feedback and decide if any additional updates are needed to the plan.
  • Plan adopted by the county board.

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 are in the process of forming these groups. More details will be shared once the groups are established.

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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