Natural resources are the basis of Mendota Heights’ character and quality of life, beloved by residents, appreciated by visitors, and stewarded by public servants and private landowners. Natural areas—the City’s most natural lands and waters—are rare gems, harboring historical and restored plant communities and wildlife populations. These easily lost natural resources deserve attention and need help to recover from past damages and to thrive well into the future, despite changes in land use, climate, and new pests and diseases.
While some natural areas are protected on public land, most are on private land, making protection and management of the City’s natural areas, to some extent, a public outreach and cost-sharing initiative. The City’s upland and lowland plant communities were degraded in the past by incompatible land uses and by the introduction of dominating invasive species. Its diverse wildlife was severely reduced by habitat fragmentation and edge effects. Streams, lakes, and ravines were and continue to be damaged by excessive erosion brought on by uncontrolled runoff from pavement, rooftops, and turf.
The cumulative effect of past and ongoing damage to the City’s natural areas has reduced the benefits these natural resources provide to people. As a general example, the non-native shrub Common buckthorn often invades natural areas, outcompeting native shrubs, shading ground layer plants, promoting sheet erosion of soils (and sedimentation and nutrient enrichment of surface waters), and decreasing habitat quality for many native plant and animal species, including pollinators. This chain of events can be mitigated by controlling invasive buckthorn—ideally on both public and private lands—and facilitating the re-establishment of healthy, diverse, and resilient native plant communities. (Ecosystem restoration has additional spill-over benefits for surface waters, as healthy upland and lowland ecosystems in watersheds of lakes and streams reduce sediment and phosphorus inputs, sedimentation, algae blooms, and damage to aquatic ecosystems.)
This sort of intervention is needed to restore the health and function of natural areas, coupled with a commitment to perpetual stewardship, which is essential to protect those investments to restore and enhance natural areas. The effort and cost of some restoration and management projects can be substantial, such as removing dense stands of invasive plants from large areas to regenerate a diverse native ground layer. This Natural Resources Management Plan is a key step in that intervention. When natural areas are systematically inventoried and assessed, needs defined and prioritized, and projects phased over a decade or more, the City of Mendota Heights can dramatically improve its natural areas to benefit people and the environment.
More information can be found in the city's Natural Resources Management Plan
The City of Mendota Heights is fortunate in having a wide variety of natural resources for the enjoyment of the Community. The City recognizes the importance and value of these resources and the benefit they provide for its residents.
The City strives to enhance, protect, and restore its natural resources through the following programs and services: