Land Conservation Program

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is committed to a leadership role in protecting, improving, and managing surface waters and affiliated ground water resources within the District, including their relationships to the ecosystems of which they are an integral part. In fulfilling its mission, MCWD is looking to use every available tool to protect and enhance water resources.  Land owners have the opportunity to contribute by conservation easements, selling their property or a habitat restoration agreement.

Trees in the woodsLand protection is one of many tools MCWD uses to meet clean water goals.

The health of a water body is a reflection of the land use in the area of land that drains to it, or its watershed. As the intensity of human land use increases, water quality goes down and habitat is degraded.  

Traditionally, water quality protection tools have operated just before polluted water reaches its downstream destination (a lake, river, or stream).The Land Conservation Program works to protect land at critical watershed drainage areas and restore degraded habitats upstream. By doing this we reduce the need for expensive infrastructure downstream, reducing costs for taxpayers and developers.

The result is a green infrastructure of open spaces and natural areas that not only takes advantage of the free water quality services provided by Mother Nature, but also provides a number of other benefits

  • Wildlife habitat
  • Improved air quality
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Increased property values

wetlandThe Land Conservation Program helps the District accomplish its goals by protecting and restoring key uplands and wetlands

The health of a water body is a reflection of the land use in the area of land that drains to it, i.e., its watershed.  As the intensity of human land use increases, water quality goes down and habitat is degraded. But there are ways to protect and even improve the water quality, appearance, and other natural assets that we treasure.  This is where the Land Conservation Program comes into the picture.

When a willing landowner sells or donates a fee title or a conservation easement over his or her land, the key upland and wetland areas identified by the Land Conservation Program are protected forever and native vegetation is restored.  Water quality, healthy aquatic habitat, wildlife, neighboring landowners, and downstream communities all benefit.    

Land conservation & habitat restoration protect water quality and healthy aquatic habitat.

Restoring native vegetation on the land maintains or boosts infiltration rates of rainwater and snowmelt into the ground.  Higher infiltration rates minimize or eliminate runoff and reduce erosion, protecting water quantity and quality and healthy aquatic habitat. 

Fore more information, check out our Clean Water for your Home and Yard page.  

Healthy aquatic habitats and uplands depend on wildlife, and vice versa.

Wildlife, such as turtles, amphibians, and many bird species, play an essential role in healthy aquatic habitats.  These familiar animals depend on both upland and wetland for feeding, breeding, dispersal, and sheltering habitat.  Improving and preserving uplands adjacent to wetlands and streams helps wildlife populations hang on to their existence in a developing landscape.  

Prairies, forests, and wetlands increase adjacent land and home values for neighbors.

Land restored to native vegetation is aesthetically attractive to Minnesotans. Local research has shown that having restored land and other such natural assets nearby supports and improves the home values and land prices of adjacent landowners.

Click here to read Hennepin County's analysis on how open natural space increases property values. 

Improving habitat upstream saves infrastructure costs downstream.

Traditionally, water quality protection tools have operated just before polluted water reaches its downstream destination (a lake, river, or stream).  The Land Conservation Program works proactively to protect land at critical watershed drainage areas and restore degraded habitats upstream. (See MCWD Land Conservation Program's Priority Areas). By doing this we reduce the need for expensive infrastructure downstream, reducing costs for taxpayers and developers.

Click here to read MCWD's fact sheet on its Land Conservation Program, "Protecting Land...For Water's Sake."

MCWD’s conservation partnership with Hennepin County

In November 2006, MCWD entered into a land conservation financing agreement with Hennepin County that, among other things, takes advantage of the County’s high credit rating and lowers the cost of conservation to taxpayers.

Click here to read a fact sheet on MCWD's $20 million partnership.