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The fifth project application round for the Farmland and Natural Areas Program moved closer to completion this week.

At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved the spending of $2,798,938 of FNAP funds to acquire permanent easements on 12 properties. The properties total 1,325 acres.

The agricultural easements include properties owned by Lewellyn and Bernadette Stoffel, 178 acres, Vermillion; Dolores Gergen, 199 acres, Hampton; Jerold and Karen Otte, 139 acres, Hampton; and Marian Frandrup and Arthur Frandrup Estates, 120 acres, Hampton. Other properties are located in Waterford, Greenvale and Sciota townships.

The natural area easements include properties in Sciota and Waterford townships.

The fifth round application process began almost two years ago. Fifty applications were received. The final recommendations were made about a year ago. Appraisals and negotiations began with the highest-ranking projects.

The estimated cost to the county to acquire the nine farmland easements is $976,899 or 30 percent of the total costs. The estimated cost to acquire the three natural area easements is $141,509 or 35 percent of the costs. There is a minimum of $175,000 of Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council fund to the natural area projects on a reimbursement basis.

The estimated fund balance after these project expenditures are $2.25 million for farmland and slightly more than $2 million for natural areas.