4.2 Ecological Integrity

Goal 2 - Ecological Integrity

Promote activities that maintain, support and enhance floral, faunal quantity and ecological integrity of upland and aquatic resources throughout the watershed.

Discussion

Lake Minnewashta Regional Park and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum are two large conservation areas in public ownership and are part of a regional conservation corridor.

There are other potential areas for conservation, which could create wetland and upland habitat connections and ecological corridors between the larger significant areas. Connected corridors are desirable as they provide a variety of habitats both aquatic and terrestrial as well as protected areas for passage.  Within these conservation areas wherever possible the District would promote the preservation or establishment of native vegetation to increase or maintain infiltration rates; decrease or maintain runoff rates and pollutant conveyance to water resources; and minimize erosion of shorelines and streambanks.   Sustaining or improving water quality and ecological integrity is necessary to meet the District goals in this plan as well as to meet state and federal nondegradation, water quality and biological integrity requirements and to prevent the need for future TMDLs.

The subwatershed includes several wetlands with exceptional or high fish or wildlife habitat value as well as wetlands with exceptional or high vegetative diversity.  The Key Conservation Areas identified in this plan (see Figure 18) include those wetlands as well as associated upland areas of high ecological value.  Conservation of those associated upland areas not only provides additional habitat type, but also helps preserve local runoff and infiltration rates. 

The four lakes and associated riparian wetlands are primary ecological resources.  Improvement and maintenance of suitable water quality and aquatic vegetation would help to support the active fisheries in these lakes.  The primary strategies for improving aquatic communities are the acquisition of new data such as vegetation surveys and management plans, and improvement of water quality.  The several wetlands in the subwatershed with exceptional or high vegetative diversity would be inspected at least annually for invasive vegetative species.

Desired Outcomes: Functional and healthy ecological corridors and waters throughout the subwatershed.

Metrics:

  • Acres of land conserved in Key Conservation Areas
  • Acres of restored/created wetland within Key Conservation Areas

Goal 2.1 - Lake Virginia

Maintain and improve overall ecological integrity within the subwatershed.

Actions

  1. Protect existing fish and wildlife habitat and promote the restoration of habitat areas and corridors by the conservation and restoration of Key Conservation Areas (see Figure 19).
    1. Require LGUs to recognize Key Conservation Areas in their natural resources and land use planning and to identify in their Local Water Management plans how they intend to conserve their ecological values.
    2. Provide education and training opportunities, technical and planning assistance, and financial incentives to LGUs to actively conserve Key Conservation Areas.
    3. Restore areas of degradation within Key Conservation Areas.
    4. Work cooperatively with other agencies and organizations to improve upon existing conservation corridors and where practical, develop new conservation corridors that connect Lake Minnewashta Regional Park, The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Southwest Regional LRT Trail, and other high-value wetland and upland areas in the subwatershed.
  2. Identify keystone, umbrella, and indicator species to serve as indicators of ecological integrity, evaluate existing habitat within the subwatershed, and develop strategies for the conservation of that habitat.
  3. Provide regulatory incentives for the preservation of trees and other native vegetation as sites develop.
  4. Require MCWD review of preliminary plats and vegetation surveys so the District may comment on proposals and how they relate to District ecological integrity goals.

Goal 2.2 - Lake Virginia

Maintain conditions suitable for healthy and varied fish communities within the four lakes.

Actions

  1. Work cooperatively with the DNR in Lake Virginia fishery management efforts, and request that fish surveys be conducted regularly.
  2. Achieve and maintain Lake Minnewashta and Lake Virginia water quality and clarity goals to maintain or improve habitat conditions.
  3. Prevent degradation of water quality in Tamarack Lake and Lake St. Joe.
  4. Manage aquatic vegetation in accordance with a vegetation management plan that takes into account fishery habitat requirements.

Goal 2.3 - Lake Virginia

Maintain a healthy aquatic vegetation community.

Actions

  1. Perform a baseline survey of aquatic and shoreline vegetation in Lake Virginia and Tamarack Lake and update that survey every five years.  Update the surveys completed by the City of Chanhassen on Lakes Minnewashta and St. Joe.
  2. Develop and implement an aquatic vegetation management plan for each lake that evaluates options for the management of internal phosphorus loads as well as maintenance of a desirable aquatic vegetation community.
  3. Recruit and train volunteers to monitor aquatic vegetation in the lakes on an ongoing basis.