The Nature Pillar recognizes the County’s natural resources and the areas that reconnect people to nature through parks and trails. This Pillar is carefully balanced throughout the Comprehensive Plan to ensure the natural environment is brought to the forefront of conversations when making land use decisions. Stearns County’s commitment to this Pillar is further embodied in the following statement and goals.
Stearns County recognizes the inherent values of the natural environment and connecting people to nature. We are committed to providing recreational opportunities, while recognizing the value of natural resource protection, restoration, and preservation. This will require sustainable practices that balance growth between urban and rural communities.
A Natural Resource Manual was developed to help inform the Comprehensive Plan’s update, while informing the focus areas discussed throughout this Pillar. The manual provides a snapshot of Stearns County’s diverse natural resources, parks, open spaces, and trails. It also provides a foundation for developing the “natural resource overlay” depicted in the Future Land Use Plan map.
When making future land use decisions: Planning decisions are influenced y a variety of entities that have some regulatory or planning authority for natural resources in Stearns County. The Natural Resource Manual identifies some of these roles and responsibility while providing resource links to learn more.
Connecting people to nature: Recreation programs, trail corridors and parks are all part of the natural systems of Stearns County. These connections are recognized throughout the Natural Resource Manual. The manual provides an inventory and assessment of the existing system, contextual information regarding complementary state facilities, and a framework for Steans County to follow in order to meet regional needs for recreation and open space and to preserve significant natural resources.
Implementing the Focus Areas: The focus areas in this Pillar represent some of the priorities discovered throughout the planning process. There fore, it is important to note they are not all-encompassing when considering the range of environmental concerns and recreational needs facing our future.
The Comprehensive Plan can be implemented in a number of ways. On a daily basis, the document is used by County staff to review applications. The County Board, as well as other advisory commissions use the Plan when making decisions. It is used by residents and developers to understand the County’s intentions for the use of land, infrastructure needs, and planned park and open space improvements.