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Natural resources management and planning

Hennepin County delivers a variety of conservation services to protect our land and water. The county also coordinates with conservation districts and watersheds.

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Hennepin County’s 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 natural resources strategic plan (PDF).

Get an overview of the plan by reviewing the natural resources strategic plan summary flyer (PDF).

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).

Conservation programs


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

  • Enforcement of the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA)
  • Conservation easement monitoring activities, including Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) conservation easements and Hennepin County conservation easements
  • Environmental education and outreach through programs including River Watch, the Children's Water Festival, Envirothon and the West Metro Water Alliance (WMWA). The county also has environmental education resources and grant funding available.
  • Volunteer opportunities through the Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP), Stream Health Evaluation Program (SHEP), Master Naturalist and Master Gardener programs.
  • Technical assistance to local governments.
  • Natural resources inventory and natural resources interactive map. Learn more.
  • Financial assistance through state cost-share, well-sealing, agricultural best management practices (BMP) loan program, natural resources grants and Green Partners grants. Learn more.

Special projects

Reports and links

Annual summaries

Natural resources management accomplishments

Aquatic invasive species program accomplishments

State performance review of Hennepin County conservation services

Periodically, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) performs a detailed review and assessment of conservation district performance. BWSR completed this review for Hennepin County conservation services in July 2017. The review found that the county is meeting all basic performance standards and about half of the high performance standards. See the full Performance Review and Assessment Program report (PDF).


Budgets and financial reports

Meeting minutes

Partners and partnerships

BWSR Natural Resources Block Grant reports

Local Water Management (LWM)

Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems (SSTS)

Well sealing grants

Wetland Conservation Act (WCA)

SWCD program and operations grant reports

Conservation delivery

State cost-share

Easement delivery

SWCD organizational capacity grant reports

  • 2016 – not yet available

SWCD buffer implementation grant report

  • 2016 – not yet available

Disaster recovery assistance grant reports

  • 2016 – not yet available

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

November 8: Lawns to Legumes train-the-trainer workshop

Friday, November 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Maple Grove Library in the Main Street Room, 8001 Main Street North Maple Grove, MN 55369

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) recently received state funding to develop a new residential grant program called Lawns to Legumes. The program is focused on planting residential lawns with native vegetation and pollinator-friendly forbs and legumes to protect a diversity of pollinators.

This train-the-trainer session will review the different types of projects eligible for cost share funding, including pollinator patches, prairie meadows, pollinator lawns, and native plants that are beneficial to the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee.  

Presenters will be Dan Shaw with BWSR and staff from Metro Blooms.

RSVP and submitting meeting topic ideas

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

Sign up for partnership announcements

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

2019 meeting schedule

Meetings will be held quarterly in 2019. All meetings will be held from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Ridgedale library.

The final meeting of 2019 will be held Thursday, December 12.

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:

June 2016: stormwater collection and reuse

January 2015

March 2015

September 2015

December 2015


What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that catches rain, snow, and any other form of water and drains to a lake, stream, wetland or groundwater.

Watersheds come in all different shapes and sizes. Smaller watersheds drain into larger watersheds, much like a creek drains into a river. Some watersheds cross county, state, and even international borders.

The rain water that falls on your house, lawn or driveway runs into a nearby lake, river or stream. This water, like all the surface water in Hennepin County, will flow into the Mississippi River and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. Actions taken to protect or pollute water will impact the quality of lakes, rivers or wetlands downstream.

Notice of public hearings

The Shingle Creek Watershed Management Commission (SCWMC) and West Mississippi Watershed Management Commission (WMWMC) will hold public hearings at their regular meeting on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 12:45 p.m. to receive comments on a minor plan amendment to their Third Generation Watershed Management Plan. The proposed minor plan amendments will add one project to the Shingle Creek Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and adjust the cost of another. In addition, the amendment will add one project to the West Mississippi CIP. The projects will restore and protect area water resources. The hearing will be held at the Clubhouse at Edinburgh USA, 8700 Edinbrook Crossing, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. More information related to this public hearing can be found on the SCWMC website.

Watershed organizations

Watersheds are managed by either a Watershed Management Organization or a Watershed District. Both are considered a separate unit of government and are governed by a Board of Commissioners. Watershed District board members are appointed by the Hennepin County Commissioners, while Watershed Management Organization board members are appointed by individual city councils.

Watershed organizations in Hennepin County

The major watersheds in Hennepin County are:

The West Metro Water Alliance (WMWA) is a working group of agencies with a common interest in water quality and stormwater management. The group collaborates on various projects related to education and outreach on water quality issues, including development of an e-newsletter, printed materials, education program, workshops and campaigns.

WMWA partners include:

Water Links e-newsletter

Water Links is a monthly e-newsletter that features news, events, project updates and tips related to water quality issues.

Read the past issues or sign up.

WMWA environmental educators

Environmental educators from WMWA are available to implement a series of lessons on watersheds and water quality in fourth grade classrooms. The lessons have been developed to meet the Minnesota State Science Standards and will be tailored for each school.

Schools located with the Bassett Creek, Elm Creek, Shingle Creek and West Mississippi watersheds can request environmental educators to implement any or all of the following lessons:

  • What is a Watershed and Why Do We Care? – includes an overview of the concept of a watershed, a look at the watershed where the school is located and an exploration of the threats to a watershed
  • The Water Cycle: An Incredible Journey – explore the movement of water, the states of water and how water is polluted and cleansed as it moves through the cycle

WMWA educators are also available to help you implement community/service learning projects, plan a school event and develop additional water-themed lessons.

Email for more information or to request an educator at your school.

Water quality educational resources

Water quality brochure

Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Minnesota's Lakes, Rivers and Streams brochure (PDF)

Ten steps you can take in caring for your house and lawn that will help protect water quality.

Water quality newsletter articles

The articles developed by WMWA are provided for use by our partners in community newsletters, newspapers and websites to promote practices that protect water quality.

Hennepin County is responsible for enforcing the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) the county. The main purpose of WCA, which was passed in 1991, is to “achieve no net loss in quantity, quality, and biological diversity of Minnesota’s wetlands.”

Under WCA, the draining, filling or excavation of wetlands is prohibited unless the activities are exempted or a wetland of equal or greater value is restored or created. Anyone proposing to drain, fill or excavate a wetland must first obtain proper permits. Check with your city to obtain necessary permits.

Hennepin County staff work with landowners and developers in the planning stage of projects to first avoid, second minimize and finally mitigate any impacts they have on wetlands.

County staff also work with landowners who have wetland violations on their property to restore the wetland to its preexisting condition or to create a wetland of equal or greater value. The specific requirements the landowner must comply with in order to resolve the violation are detailed in Restoration Orders written by county staff.

For more information

From the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

From the Minnesota Revisor of Statutes

Hennepin County is involved in numerous agricultural program activities through the administration of the county agricultural inspection program. Examples include:

  • Biological control programs for terrestrial invasive species such as purple loosestrife and leafy spurge
  • Seed inspection and seed sampling program
  • Fertilizer registration inspection and sampling
  • Pesticide licensing and registration inspections
  • Pesticide applicator inspections
  • Waste pesticide collections
  • Empty pesticide container collections
  • Enforcement of the Minnesota noxious weed law

Noxious weeds are plants that are injurious to public health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock and other property. Prohibited noxious weeds must be controlled or eradicated as required in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 18 section 18.78. Each city in Hennepin County has one or more "local" weed inspectors. For more information about noxious weeds in your city, or to report noxious weeds, contact your local weed inspector.

For more information regarding the county-wide administration of these programs, please contact the county agricultural inspector at 612-348-4659.

Chemigation permits

All growers who apply fertilizer (fertigation) or pesticide through an irrigation system that is connected to a water supply must obtain a chemigation permit from Minnesota Department of Agriculture prior to chemigating. For more information or to apply for a permit, please contact MDA Chemigation permits at 651-201-6057 or visit MDA's chemigation permit program page.

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