Stearns County has a diversity of natural systems, including water bodies, wetlands, unique wooded areas with both natural and community value, prairie ecosystem areas, and a stretch of the Mississippi River. Combined, these natural areas are represented on the Future Land Use Plan map as a Natural Resource Overlay (see figure below). Connecting these resources together through conservation practices and land management tools will help establish stronger natural system corridors for natural habitat and plant communities. Natural system corridors can also serve as opportunities to expand the county’s trail network.
Coordinating how to preserve the function of the County’s natural systems, while also meeting the housing, economic development, and agricultural preservation goals of the County presents a signification challenge. This effort is a daunting task,requiring a collaborative approach among many agencies in helping balance development with natural preservation.