Waterspot on Sandhill Crane Natural Area – a natural treasure

The Sandhill Crane Natural Area is named for the stately sandhill crane that graces lake shores. It is cooperatively managed by the City of East Bethel, Anoka County Parks, and two state agencies. This innovative approach to open space protection, marked by ecological information, has earned national awards.

The SCNA contains various wetland communities as well as prairie, oak savanna and oak forest. Wildlife found in the area includes bald eagles and Blanding’s turtles.

From a Humble Beginning. In 1993, East Bethel wished to acquire an 18-acre parcel from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Deer Lake as a nature center or preserve. As East Bethel opened discussions it became apparent that many adjacent landowners were willing to consider preserving the unique natural features of the larger area cataloged in the Minnesota County Biological Survey.

The City formed a task force holding public open house events to permit residents to guide the establishment of the Natural Area and defined a vision statement for managing the ecologically significant 495-acre area to “protect and preserve the natural resources of the area, to provide appropriate recreational uses, and to encourage the involvement of adjacent landowners and area residents in participating in land conservation programs.

Sandhill Crane Natural Area Map

The process of reaching an agreement to establish plans and the cooperation of county and state agencies have led to a promise that this natural area will stay pretty much as it is. For adjacent landowner and SCNA Citizen Advisory Committee member Lorraine Bonin, the status quo is just fine. “We hear the sandhill cranes; it’s such a wild sound. There are loons here, and egrets. Walking once, in winter, I met a fox on the trail. However long it took to put this agreement together, it was worth it.”

For more information contact Jack Davis (East Bethel City Administrator) at 763-367-7850 and see the SCNA Case Study.

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