Protecting the Waters of Hennepin County

Natural lands near the Twin Cities filters water and provides important wildlife habitat. Now it's protected forever.
Rusty patched bumblebee collects pollen from a yellow flower

Twenty-five years ago, Tim and Susan Clark bought a parcel of pastureland in western Hennepin County. Their goal was simple, to create a home for themselves while restoring the diverse and natural lands that had once thrived on the property. And now, thanks to a conservation easement through the Minnesota Land Trust and Hennepin County, their decades of hard work will be protected in perpetuity, forever benefiting all Minnesotans.

38 Acres Protected

  • Wetland: 24.54 acres
  • Forest: 7.1 acres
  • Grassland: 5.98 acres
  • Woodland: 1.21 acres
  • Water: .09 acres
  • Shoreline: 617 feet

Wildlife Supported by the Property

  • Rusty-patched and American bumblebees
  • Yellow-headed blackbird
  • red-shouldered hawk
  • American kestrel
  • American woodcock
  • Field sparrow
  • Blanding’s turtle
Yellow headed blackbird in a tree
Closeup of Blanding's turtle face
Two American kestrels sitting side by side
Bumblebee buzzing around a purple wildflower

Partnering with Hennepin County to Protect Disappearing Habitat

The Twin Cities metro area is rapidly losing critical, high-quality and diverse habitat for migrating waterfowl, canopy-dwelling and grassland birds, game birds, pollinators and other wildlife. That’s why it’s more important than ever for concerned landowners, local government, non-profits and businesses to work together to amplify the reach and impact of habitat conservation.

The Clark property is part of a collaborative effort between Hennepin County and the Minnesota Land Trust to protect 500 acres of habitat within Hennepin County and restore 250 acres to a natural state. Despite steadily increasing development pressure in the region, the careful and targeted preservation of private properties can help the Twin Cities metro region become one of the best wildlife habitat networks within a metro area in the country.

Hennepin County is working to protect ecologically significant areas remaining in the county and establish natural resources corridors to connect them and large regional parks. These areas represent about 10% of the land in the county.

Filtering Water for the Mississippi River

Photo of the protected property in the fall or spring includes wetlands and brown grasses with deciduous trees in the background

Natural lands like the Clark property play an important role in filtering surface and groundwater, maintaining wildlife corridors, and creating opportunities for outdoor recreation.

“This property is in a sub-watershed of Minnehaha Creek that is an important piece of the natural lands puzzle keeping the waters of the creek, Lake Minnetonka, and eventually the Mississippi River clean,” says Kristina Geiger, program manager for the Minnesota Land Trust. “This is the first project we’ve completed as part of this new program with Hennepin County. It’s exciting to be a part of helping the Clark family protect what they’ve worked so hard to restore.”

Surface of water with slight ripples

Help Protect More Land & Water in the Twin Cities Metro Area

Your gift helps protect and restore more important and imperiled habitat.

Permanently Protecting Restored Lands

Kristine Maurer, a natural resource ecologist at Hennepin County, agrees “The Clark property is a great addition to the Habitat Conservation Program. This property will preserve a legacy of previous restoration efforts and allow us to build on this work through additional habitat enhancements starting this year. The Clarks are wonderful people, and we are so lucky to be working with them and the Minnesota Land Trust to further conservation in Hennepin County.”

The property is important for several species in the area, including the rusty-patched bumblebee, bald eagle, American kestrel, and more. The Clarks’ restoration projects focused on restoring habitat for these species and ensuring that wildlife can thrive on the land. Long term, the Clarks will continue to build on the improvements they’ve already completed.

“None of us are here that long; we have to ask ourselves ‘how do we leave something for generations to come?'” says Tim Clark. “This just made a lot of sense and allowed us to move forward with what we’ve been trying to do for 25 years. It keeps with our original vision of leaving this planet better than we found it.”

Rusty patched bumblebee feeds on a yellow flower

Protecting their land through a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust ensures that the land remains in private hands, and future owners can continue to use and enjoy it within the restrictions of the easement. And by working with the Land Trust, this land will continue to benefit from the careful restoration efforts of the Clark family. “We took our time with this process, to make sure we got it right,” says Clark. “We wrapped this up feeling really right and good in our hearts that we have made the right decision. We’re proud of the decision we made and of the partners we have now.”

Wooden park bench overlooking flooded wetlands, a lake in the middle ground and the Minneapolis skyline in the background

The Minnesota Land Trust works with local landowners and partners to protect local habitat and water quality. Do you want to protect your property in Sherburne, Isanti, Anoka, Chisago, Washington, Ramsey, Hennepin, Wright, Scott, Carver, Meeker, McLeod, Sibley, or Dakota county?

Learn more about protection opportunities in this region.

More from the Twin Cities Metro Area

This permanent conservation easement was made possible thanks to members of the Minnesota Land Trust and Hennepin County with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC), and by Hennepin County.

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