Wilderness in the City is now an incorporated nonprofit with the State of Minnesota, and pending 501c3 status. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Citizen Advisory Panel
Park Users: this is your opportunity to influence decisions being made with regard to the controversial development plan. Make a difference in the future of Lebanon Hills, submit an application for the Master Plan Citizen Panel.
March 28 – Applications Due April 8 – Panel Selection
The 20-member panel is expected to meet 8 times between April and December.
Meetings will be held in the evening, not to exceed 3 hours. Must be a Dakota County resident. Contact us if you have questions.
Dakota County Park Site that includes all county information on the Citizen Panel
Scope of Work document
Citizen Panel Composition and Selection Process document
LHRP Citizen Panel Application Form
County Board’s Resolution
Lebanon Hills Citizen Advisory Panel
Approved by County Board
On 2/25/14 the Dakota County Board passed a resolution to form a Citizen Advisory Panel for Lebanon Hills Master Plan and the Scope of Work for that panel.
- The County Park Department’s original recommendation included language that a paved regional bike trail (the Connector Trail) and additional paved lake loop trails were predetermined.
- Commissioner Schouweiler objected to the strong parameters; Commissioner Egan echoed her concerns. Commissioners Gerlach and Workman both wanted strong guidelines included.
- After discussion, consensus was reached and the language revised to direct the panel to “consider” a connector and other paved trails.
- Also revised in the recommendation is a “No Build” option for the connector trail.
- Additional items outlined in the scope of work are review/comment on Natural Resources and Recreation Use Facilities. No discussion took place on these items.
- The timelines were extended for both the selection process and for completing the work.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact Dakota County Commissioners. We appreciate the additional time given for the selection process and completion of work for the citizen panel. We appreciate Commissioner Schouweiler’s leadership and Commissioner Egan’s support toward creating a meaningful decision making process.
Star Tribune article: Lebanon Hills Regional Park decision pushed back
Audubon Society Weighs in on Development Plan
The Minnesota River Valley Chapter of the Audubon Society submitted an official commnet opposing the plan’s emphasis on development. They also state their support for the creation of a citizen-based oversight body to steward the future vision and operations for the development, use, and maintenance of the park.
Link to their letter: Audobon Society – Lebanon Hills Plan.
Link to Star tribune article: Audubon opposes trail paving at Lebanon Hills, Feb 2, 2014
Petition: Restore the Balance to Lebanon Hills
This online petition with over 1000 signatures asking for suspension of the proposed Development Plan was presented to the Commissioners at the Feb 11th Physical Development Meeting by Mike Koutnik.
WHAT’S IN THE PROPOSED PLAN
- Connector Trail (Visitor Center, thru Park Preserve Zone, to west side of Park Boundary)
- Southeast Greenway Link (Visitor Center, west side of Marsh Lake, south to 120th St)
- Mendota-Lebanon Hills Greenway (Visitor Center, through prairie, to Dodd/Cliff )
- Holland Lake — Paved loop trail (p. 140)
- McDonough Lake — Paved loop trail (p. 140)
- Jensen Lake — Paved bituminous road with parking lots and turnaround (p. 163)
- Campground — Expanded Visitor Parking; Paved trail (5′ wide, p. 165)
- Camp Sacajawea — Paved trail (5′ wide) through camp; Expanded parking lot for group camp and outdoor skills course (p. 165)
- West Trailhead (Mountain Bike Trailhead) — Driveway to overflow parking area;
Overflow parking area (p. 165)
- Visitor Center Expansion…Picnic Shelters…Extended Piers…Docks…Camper Cabins… Event Space ….
More than $15 million for Capital Development Projects
Here is a table with categories and figures taken directly from the 2013 Development Plan:
Acquisition and Large-Scale Natural Resource Stewardship
Park staff and County Commissioners refer to the plan as a 50/50 balance. By including
Acquisition (“Land Protection”) with the Natural Resource Stewardship figures, they calculate close to a 50/50 balance. Here are two tables with categories and figures taken directly from the 2013 Development Plan:
If the proposed 2013 development plan is approved, the County has discretion over what parts of the plan to implement.
“Invasive species degrade ecosystems and prevent regeneration of native red oaks, the park’s dominant native tree. As oaks decline, buckthorn and other species will dominate. Buckthorn is well established and is a major threat.” (p. vii)
“In general, oak forests in Lebanon Hills are in degraded condition, largely due to invasive shrub species, primarily buckthorn.” (p. 43)
“As [oak woodlands] become increasingly dominated by non-native invasive woody plants, their ability to support native birds and other wildlife diminishes.” (p. 76)
“Without more strategic management to mitigate disturbances and destructive processes, the future outcome for LHs will be a park with diminished quality for native pants and wildlife, water resources, scenic beauty, recreation, and education.” (p. vii)
NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (p. 173)
“Dakota County has undertaken less challenging and more cost-effective prairie restoration projects, but has not done woodland, wetland, or lakeshore restoration to any significant degree in Lebanon Hills. As time passes and buckthorn increases throughout the park, the threat to Lebanon Hills’ trademark canopy woods and lakes also increases.
This plan identifies “the need to develop appropriate capacity to properly manage park natural resources — a comprehensive natural resource management program” but does not define an exact path to accomplish that goal.
IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT BUCKTHORN, ASK QUESTIONS:
- What has been accomplished from the Ecological Stewardship Program defined as a top priority in the 2001 Master Plan?
- What action is being taken to control buckthorn throughout the entire park?
- How many acres of buckthorn control are included as a Top Priority in the proposed plan?
Comparison of Past and Future Priorities
2013 Development Plan Priorities (proposed master plan)
The left and center pie charts show the proposed Development Plan’s spending categories. The right pie chart shows the plan’s project prioritization for implementation in the near-term. Acquisition is not a prioritized project because it only happens when and if desired private property comes up for sale. These numbers and terms are from the Draft Plan, ask questions of the county for clarification.
Top Priority Projects – the pie chart on the right (pp 168-169):
- 74% $8,152,300 Facility Development
- 26% $2,891,756 Natural Resource Stewardship
Not included in priorities — tagged “for future consideration” (p. 162):
- (1) Convert degraded woodlands to healthy woodlands (375 acres)
- (2) Management and invasive species control (570 acres)
2001 Master Plan Priorities (master plan that is being replaced)
2001 – “As decisions are made regarding implementation and funding strategies, all four implementation categories will be of equal priority…” ~2001 Master Plan p 5.6
June 2013 – Record of Implementation of Master Plan Priorities
Annual Trail Maintenance Costs
No maintenance costs are included for the three Greenway Trails in the Development Plan: the Connector Trail (6.1mi), the Mendota Heights – Lebanon Hills Trail (approx .5 mi) from corner of Dodd & Cliff Rds through the prairie to the Visitor’s center, and the Southeast Greenway Trail (?mi from Visitor’s Center to SE corner of park).
The Mendota-Lebanon Hill Greenway, which goes from Mendota Heights to the Lebanon Hills Visitor’s center and was approved in August 2013 by the Dakota County Board of Commissioners, shows the following annual maintenance costs (M-LH Greenway Plan, p.67):
Mendota-Lebanon Hills Greenway Annual Costs:
xxx$97,875 – Operations and Maintenance
xx$198,750 – Capital Maintenance & Replacement
xx$296,625 – Total Annual Costs
Mendota – Lebanon Hills Trail Length = 8.5 miles
xx$34,898 – Costs per mile per year
There are two Greenways in the 2013 Development Plan:
- Lebanon Hills Connector Trail length = 6.1 miles
- Southeast Greenway Trail length (from Visitor Center to SE corner of park) = ? miles
STATUS OF DRAFT PLAN
- January 2014 – Connector trail alignment options explored – County Park Department
- February 2014 –Possible Open House
- Unscheduled – Plan adoption (Refined Draft Plan will be voted on by County Commissioners)
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Join Lebanon Hills – Wilderness in the City (Save Lebanon Hills Wilderness)
2. Contact your State Legislator http://www.leg.state.mn.us/
3. Write a letter to the editor
- SunThisweek: email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Star Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/
- Pioneer Press: email email@example.com