Conservation easements in Hennepin County
The following conservations easements have successfully protected ecologically significant natural areas and improved connections among natural areas.
Easement fulfills landowners’ vision of permanent habitat protection
When the Clark's bought a 38-acre parcel of pastureland 25 years ago in western Hennepin County, their goal was to create a home for themselves while restoring the diverse and natural lands that had once thrived on the property. With a conservation easement, their decades of hard work will be protected forever.
The Clark property is part of a larger joint effort between Hennepin County and the Minnesota Land Trust to protect 500 acres of habitat within Hennepin County and restore 250 acres to a more natural state. Natural lands like the Clark property play an important role in filtering surface and groundwater, maintaining wildlife corridors, and creating opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Read the Minnesota Land Trust's story about the Clark easement.
Reforestation project adds to permanently protected habitat
The Slavec property in Independence lies on the edge of the Twin Cities metro, in an area rich with lakes and wetlands. The 13-acre easement was one of the last remaining unprotected parcels in a habitat corridor connecting Lake Rebecca Regional Park to Lake Sarah. Learn more about the protected habitat corridor established between Lake Rebecca and Lake Sarah (PDF).
The easement contains old-growth maple-basswood forest, a tamarack bog, wetlands, and grasslands and provides important habitat to Trumpeter swans and other unique wildlife.
Read the Minnesota Land Trust's story about the Slavec easement.
After the easement was established, a reforestation project planted 1,200 trees on 3.5 acres of former farm field. The reforestation will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering an estimated 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years and improve water quality by infiltrating nearly 2.5 million gallons of rainfall annually.
Watch a time lapse of the reforestation (YouTube).
Protecting Hennepin County’s most pristine lake
Little Long Lake in Minnetrista consistently has the best water quality in the metro area. Between existing conservation easements and property owned by the Three Rivers Park District, more than 550 acres of habitat are already permanently protected in this area. These habitats contain high-quality upland forest, ephemeral forest wetlands, wet meadows, marshland, and streams.
Hennepin County and the Minnesota Land Trust have been working with landowners to protect and restore habitats adjacent to Little Long Lake to ensure the lake remains ideal for fishing and swimming forever.
Learn more about efforts to project Hennepin County's most pristine lake (PDF).
Restoring native prairie along the Minnesota River Valley
Hennepin County, the City of Eden Prairie, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been partnering to restore habitat in three zones along the Minnesota River Valley corridor. This work contributes to protecting and restoring some of the last native prairie remnants in Hennepin County.
These habitat areas are home to eight species of special concern. Protecting and restoring these areas creates a larger corridor of protected habitat as they are adjacent to City of Eden Prairie conservation areas and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, creating a larger corridor of protect habitat.
Prairie restoration work underway include cover crops to improve soil health and reseeding with native prairie plants.
Learn more about this project to restore one of the last native prairie remnants in Hennepin County (PDF).
Protecting shoreline and teaching traditional Indigenous practices
A 40-acre conservation easement along the shore of Lake Independence and Pioneer Creek protects maple-basswood forests and oak woodlands. The property owner uses the forest and sugar camp to make syrup and teach traditional practices to Indigenous youth.
This project capitalizes on the strong conservation ethic of the landowner and offers opportunities for meaningful outreach, restoration, and shoreline protection. Learn more about the conservation easement on the shores of Lake Independence (PDF).