Natural Area Corridors

Comprehensive Plan Updates

A Natural Area Corridor, under the Scott County 2040 Comprehensive Plan Update, is defined as a linear connection of natural features which may include: areas with known sensitive species or communities, unique natural communities, and high and medium quality natural communities. Identifying opportunities for linear connections of natural features is a subject that has evolved in Scott County plans over the years. The 2040 Plan Update built on the previous planning efforts to provide parkways, linear parks, and greenway corridors in Scott County.

In 2006, the County held an extensive visioning process which included seven forums held across the county. Participants responded to a series of questions, and when asked whether the County should work now to preserve open space, in light of rising land costs and development pressures, almost three-quarters of participants agreed, and half strongly agreed. As a result of this public input, the 2040 Vision sees a future when the County’s “developed landscape includes parks, greenways, and conservation corridors based on natural resource inventories.”

Natural Resource Inventory

A process began in late 2006 to undertake the natural resource inventory and to ultimately identify Natural Area Corridors. This process included technical analysis and research conducted by County staff, as well as policy input from three advisory commissions (Parks, Planning, and Scott Watershed Management Organization), the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and township officials. This group held six workshops over the course of 2006 and 2007 to compile inventory data, identify draft corridors, and discuss various implementation policies.

Designating Natural Area Corridors is not intended to prohibit development. Rather, the intent is to guide development-related decisions as outlined within the following corridor purpose statements, and involves a combination of efforts to protect high priority natural areas under private ownership as well as public ownership in combination with parks planning:

Implementing a Natural Area Corridor

When a property within a mapped Natural Area Corridor (PDF) is proposed for development, the County must evaluate the proposal alongside the following statements and make decisions related to implementing corridor purposes to shape the pattern of development desired:

  • Determine if the property (or portion of the property) proposed for development is within or adjacent to a Natural Area Corridor
  • Identify what types of resources are present within the corridor (e.g. wetland, woodland)
  • Identify the purpose of the corridor (as outlined above)
  • Determine whether preservation of the resource(s) within the corridor is appropriate
  • Determine what levels of resource protection already exist for the area in question (for example: if the area is a wetland in a corridor, then there is already some existing protection through the State of Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act)
  • Based on purpose, determine the appropriate implementation method(s) or options