Dakota County's Farmland and Natural Areas protection effort has been named one of six winners of a national conservation award.
The Trust for Public Land and the National Association of Counties chose the program as one of the recipients of the first County Leadership in Conservation awards, to be announced today in Washington, D.C.
County voters in 2002 approved borrowing $20 million to provide protection from development for designated farmland and natural areas. It was the first measure of its kind to be approved in Minnesota. So far, 31 projects involving more than 3,500 acres have been identified. The goal is to establish protection for 10,000 acres in 10 years.
Other winners are Burlington County, N.J.; Gallatin County, Mont.; Pima County, Ariz.; Pinellas County, Fla., and Platte County, Mo.
The Dakota County effort, which also generates matching funds from the federal and state governments and conservation groups, "showcases innovation at a time when common-sense responses to accelerated growth and development are needed most in the greater Twin Cities area," said Susan Schmidt, director of Minnesota Trust for Public Land.
The national groups indicated that more than 125 counties across the country have passed bonds and other funding measures to support land conservation since 1996.