Dakota County recently hired a manager to oversee its farmland and natural area preservation program.
Al Singer, a South Maplewood resident, was the former coordinator for Metro Greenways, a metro area land protection program administered through the state Department of Natural Resources.
Last year, county voters approved a $20 million referendum to protect land during the next 10 years. The county plans to pay landowners for conservation easements, which guarantee that the land won't be developed.
Singer said he is confident that the first conservation easements will be acquired next year.
Singer's $61,500 salary is being paid from fees paid by solid waste management companies, not referendum dollars.
A citizen advisory committee recently ranked applications from owners of natural areas. The committee's top choice is a 470-acre site in Empire Township owned by the Miles family. The second highest rating went to 30! acres in Eagan owned by Anthony Caponi; he owns an art park but the rating was for the natural area portion of his land. Another Eagan site, owned by Patrick McCarthy, received the third highest ranking.
The county board will soon discuss the committee's recommendations.
Board members then likely will direct staff to meet with certain landowners and obtain appraisals.
County staff members are negotiating with several farmland owners and appraisals will be done in the next few months.
-- Amy Sherman
For more information on Friends of Patrick Eagan Park visit www.friendsofpatrickeaganpark.org