Conservation Area

Our role in conservation goes beyond the connection we have with nature. Our most significant effort is the 900-acre conservation area held in three permanent easements, which provide critical habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species. Located in the heart of our city, this oasis of natural beauty provides numerous benefits to our residents and the wider environment. The area is home to several wetlands, forests, and prairies, all of which contribute to the local ecosystem’s health and stability. These habitats serve as breeding grounds for migratory birds, butterflies, and other pollinators, ensuring that our community remains a vibrant and diverse ecosystem.

In addition to its ecological benefits, the North Oaks conservation area provides numerous recreational opportunities for our residents. The area features several miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for birdwatching, and other outdoor activities. These activities provide an excellent way for our community members to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of our local environment.

From its earliest days, development in North Oaks has been deliberate and skillfully planned. Home sites were chosen to conform with nature, natural beauty was to be preserved if at all possible and quality took precedence over scale. The vision to preserve nature resulted in setting aside 620 acres in a permanent conservation easement as well as a 220 acre agricultural easement that will always be protected from development. The neighborhoods featured below all adjoin this conservation area, allowing unsurpassed views of green spaces as well as access to recreational trails.

The North Oaks Company has been fortunate to establish strong local partnerships and to have the resources to deploy effective, modern conservation strategies.  Today’s work carries forward the conservation legacy initiated by Louis W. Hill Jr. three quarters of a century ago.” – Don Pereira, Director of Conservation Programs

“From the “big picture” overall “Map of Conservation and Development”, to the details of new projects such as creating attractive wetlands to filter nutrients from water flowing through the farm’s waterways (thereby improving water quality and habitat), the North Oaks project continues to impress mightily. From my first involvement more than a quarter-century ago, I have been so very proud of the tremendous progress that the North Oaks team has made. It has been a real honor to have been closely associated with North Oaks over this time.”  – Randall Arendt, FRTPI

Natural environment

The Protected Land is one of three contiguous conservation easements held by the Land Trust that were originally donated by the North Oaks Company, the developer of several large conservation developments within the City of North Oaks. The three easements protect one of largest remaining tracts of intact habitat in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, a biologically diverse and historically significant property, and preserve open space in a rapidly developing commercial and residential corridor. The other related projects are the North Oaks – Conservation Area (North Oaks Company) and North Oaks – The Pines (North Oaks Company) projects, located to the northwest and south of the Protected Land, respectively. The conservation easement identifies the conservation values of the protected property as described below:

Natural Qualities: The undeveloped and relatively natural character of the Protected Land provides significant habitat for a variety of fish, wildlife, and plants.
Scenic Qualities: The Protected Land contains outstanding scenic qualities that may be enjoyed by the general public from Centerville Road.
Agricultural Qualities: The agricultural fields contribute to the local food security, economic wellbeing, and rural character of North Oaks and its surrounding communities.
Riparian Character: The Protected Land contains numerous wetlands and extensive shoreline on Black Lake. The protection of these features in their natural and undeveloped condition will help to preserve the quality and integrity of the Mississippi River – Twin Cities watershed.
Forested Character: The forest on the Protected Land provides relatively natural wildlife habitat.
Open Space Character: The protection of the Protected Land allows the City of North Oaks to maintain open space in an area of Ramsey County that has experienced rapid residential and commercial development.

Wilkinson Lake Watershed

The lakes and streams within the watershed serve as important habitats for fish, birds, and other wildlife. Additionally, the watershed plays a critical role in preventing erosion and reducing flooding, which helps to protect our homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

The Wilkinson Lake watershed encompasses a majority of the land mass that eventually drains to Pleasant Lake, and thus plays a critical role in maintaining the health and vitality of our local environment.  North Oaks Company has funded installation of a barrier to keep harmful, invasive common carp from reinfesting Wilkinson Lake, and has also conducted restoration of a nearby wetland system.  More recently, the North Oaks Company is supporting the Vadnais Lake Area Watershed Management Organization (VLAWMO) with its acquisition of a Federal Grant to help improve the water quality of Wilkinson Lake.  This work will occur in one of the easements on company property and North Oaks Company has provided 20% of the project cost as needed to meet funding requirements.

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Improving nature through conservation projects

Conservation of nature helps to preserve biodiversity, which is essential for the survival of various plant and animal species. Protecting natural habitats ensures that future generations will have access to a rich variety of flora and fauna.

By protecting wooded areas, restoring natural oak savannah and wetlands where feasible, we can help to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and slow the rate of climate change. Discover our conservation projects:

Improving Lake Quality