Blue Earth County, MN Creating a Greenprint for Tomorrow

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Blue Earth County, MN, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Initiated in 2002

Source File:


Defining and Prioritizing Blue Earth County's Conservation Corridors

What is a Greenprint?
Greenprinting: a smart-growth strategy that emphasizes land conservation to ensure quality of life, clean air and water, recreation, and economic health. (Source: National Association of Counties and Trust for Public Land)

Why is Blue Earth County developing a Greenprint?
The Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners prepared a Strategic Plan in 2002 that outlined specific initiatives for each County Department. One of those action initiatives is intended to bring natural resources planning to the forefront and be incorporated into other County planning efforts such as transportation, growth management, wastewater, wetland, park and open space planning.

Action Initiative from 2002 Strategic Plan
"Develop a natural resources inventory and management plan that evaluates and addresses the following: agricultural preservation, open space, wildlife habitat and corridors, recreation and water quality to be used as part of an environmentally-sensitive approach to transportation planning (Mankato Area Transportation Study), growth management (Mankato Area Growth Management Planning Study and Mankato Area Wastewater Treatment Planning Study), wetlands (Wetland Conservation Act) and open space planning."

What are the goals of the Greenprint plan?

  • Identify and prioritize natural resources, corridors and greenways for conservation management.
  • Develop and implement comprehensive plans that preserve, protect and restore important natural resources corridors and greenways.
  • Wetland Conservation Management Plan that preserves high priority Wetlands and wetland complexes as identified in the Greenprint.
  • Master Plan for Mining Reclamation that manages mining in priority conservation areas as identified in the Greenprint.
  • Comprehensive Land Use Plan that directs the location and type of development and other land uses in the County.

How will the corridors be identified?<br< A guide developed by NACo and the Trust for Public Land called Local Greenprinting for Growth and a guide developed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources called A Quick Guide to Using Natural Resources Information will be used along with public input to identify the corridors. A steering committee will work with Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik & Associates, consultants hired by the County, and County staff to identify and prioritize corridors.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the key component in identifying and prioritizing the corridors. A GIS-based approach will make the natural resources inventory easy to update, share, compare and analyze. Bonestroo, Rosene, Anderlik & Associates has prepared an Introduction to the Conservation Corridors Models.

The key steps in the process will include:

1. Identify natural resource issues of importance such as:

  • Protecting wildlife habitat from development.
  • Preserving open space.
  • Preserving agricultural areas.
  • Improving water quality.
  • Enhancing and expanding recreational opportunities.

2. Conduct a natural resources inventory.
The natural resources inventory is simply a collection of all available data related to natural resources from local, State and Federal agencies and other sources.

3. Develop a natural resources assessment.
Analysis will include development of GIS computer models that incorporate at least the following:

  • The natural resources inventory. The natural resources inventory data will be the basis for much of the analysis.
  • Identification of existing, high-quality habitat patches . A series of computer models and composites will be used to analyze the existing natural resources inventory to determine where, according to the model parameters, the very highest quality habitats are located for specific types of species. Habitat patches essentially become part of the natural resources inventory.
  • Local priorities and natural resources issues of importance. Using public input and the Steering Committee, local priorities for natural resources issues will be further refined. With the assistance of GIS, additional data, such as Census data, will be incorporated.
  • Corridors and greenways will be identified both visually and with GIS.
  • Finally, criteria for evaluating and scoring the ecological, economic and social impacts of the corridors will be developed and areas prioritized.

4. Develop and incorporate in comprehensive plans.
The Greenprint will be used for the development of new plans and revision of other plans. Examples of other plans where the Greenprint will be used include:

  • Land Use
  • Wetland Management
  • Mining Reclamation and Management
  • Parks and Open Space
  • Transportation
  • Growth Management
  • Watershed

5. Implement the plans.

Public Input:
Public input is important to development of the Greenprint. A Citizen Participation Plan, prepared for this project, outlines the public participation elements which include formation of the Steering Committee, on-line Discussion Forum, and public meetings.

Public Participation Plan - PDF file

Conservation Corridor Flyer - PDF file