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County will acquire more FNAP easements

As part of its Farmland and Natural Areas Program, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners has agreed to spend up to $206,500 for a permanent natural area easement on the Carolyn Gelhar-Emrick property in Ravenna Township. The estimated county cost to acquire the 41 acres is $205,000. The landowner has donated $203,000 for the easement.

FNAP is a voluntary program in which Dakota County and other partners work with willing landowners to achieve mutual land protection and natural resource stewardship goals through the acquisition of conservation easements or fee title. The major goal of the program is to protect large, contiguous, agricultural areas, while providing water quality and wildlife habitat benefits; and to protect, connect and manage priority natural areas.

The commissioners also approved a cost-sharing agreement with the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization to acquire a permanent conservation easement and buffer installation from Dennis McNamara and Gary Hoffman, Greg and Dan Stoffel, and Bonnie Wilmar who own property along the Vermillion River near Hastings.

The Watershed organization will reimburse $96,784 to the 2008 FNAP budget. The county will acquire 258 acres at about $4,000 per acre.

Miesville Park

Dakota County will appraise two additional properties located within the Miesville Ravine Park Reserve for possible acquisition.

James and John Weber have indicated they are interested in selling their 80 acres within the park, and Elizabeth Ahlers has indicated she is interested in selling 77 acres within the existing park.

The proposed Weber acquisition would protect trout brook, woodlands and scenic view area.

The approved master plan for the park includes the Ahlers property and would connect the county-owned landlocked shore land, allows for public access to the Cannon river, provides for a bridge crossing to the Cannon Valley Trail, protects woodlands, provides for hiking trail, and accommodates a maintenance and emergency access from Orlando Trail into the park. Another 21 acres adjacent to the park could provide additional natural resource protection and a visual buffer for park users.

County staff will return to the county board with results of the negotiations.