Green Notes: Priorities for protecting natural resources, green cleaning recipe cards, and tips for talking about climate change

green notes

Priorities for protecting natural resources: what we’ve heard so far

Hennepin County is in the process of updating the Natural Resources Strategic Plan, which will define our natural resources goals and strategies for the next 10 years.

Our initial engagement process is seeking to understand priorities for protecting natural resources and how people want to be engaged in the update of the plan. So far, we’ve received nearly 200 responses to our survey and talked to about 300 people at events in Brooklyn Park and northeast Minneapolis.

Here's a summary of what we've heard so far:

Two kids fishing on deck overlooking Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi River
  • The most important values to guide natural resources protection are ensuring a healthy environment for future generations and protecting wildlife and nature. Respondents also value mitigating risks of future negative impacts to natural resources and addressing racism and reducing disparities in environmental quality.
  • Water resource protection is the top priority, with groundwater being ranked the highest priority so far.
Cars driving over a flooded road with water running over it
  • Climate change and its impacts on natural resources is the top concern. Loss or lack of habitat for wildlife, impacts of water pollution, pressure on natural resources from development, and degraded water quality are also top concerns.

Opportunities to provide input and stay engaged

Lake and trees in background with text that says share your priorities for protecting natural resources, take our survey

Survey – available in multiple languages

A survey is available in English, Español, Hmoob, and Soomaali. The survey will be open through the end of October.

Help us hear from more people by encouraging others to take our survey and share their priorities for protecting natural resources. Share the surveys using the translated promotional materials (DOCX).

Community events

Person at event putting a bottle cap in a mason jar with Hennepin County staff in background talking to others

Hennepin County staff will be at these upcoming community events to talk to residents about the plan update and their values and priorities for protecting natural resources. Drop by to talk to us and vote for your priorities!

Email updates

Sign up for Natural Resources Strategic Plan email updates to stay informed of the process and opportunities to provide feedback at each step.

Grant funding available and grants awarded

Funding available to clean up contaminated sites

Applications are being accepted for Environmental Response Fund grants, which are used to fund the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites in Hennepin County.

Environmental Response Fund grants help with the redevelopment of contaminated sites where the added cost of environment cleanup is a barrier to site improvement. Projects supported by the Environmental Response Fund provide a variety of community benefits, including the creation of affordable or moderately priced housing, economic development, green space, and infrastructure improvements.

Eligible applicants include cities, economic development agencies, housing and redevelopment authorities, other local public entities, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses.

Applications are due November 1. Prior to applying, contact to discuss your project and funding needs.

Green partners environmental education grants awarded

Group of youth working on raised planting beds

Green Partners environmental education grants were recently awarded to 22 organizations totaling nearly $290,000. The grants provide training, support, and funding to organizations to implement projects that engage residents to protect and improve the environment.

Grantees have engaging, fun and creative activities planned

The grants awarded will engage more than 5,700 residents in becoming environmental stewards and taking action to protect the environment and will reach more than 100,000 residents with environmental messages.

Some of the topics grantees will engage their audiences in include:

  • Exploring climate change solutions and policy.
  • Improving recycling, participating in organics recycling, and starting composting.
  • Learning skills to conserve energy, rehab and weatherize older homes, and purchase renewable energy.
  • Practicing sustainable farming and learning about local food production.
  • Protecting water quality with rain gardens, rain barrels, and by cleaning storm drains.
  • Participating in outdoor and nature-based education, including studying aquatic invasive species, forestry, and pollinator habitat.
  • Reducing single-use plastics and packaging waste and using reusable alternatives.

Of the 22 projects, 15 projects engage Black, Indigenous, or communities of color and residents that live in areas of concern for environmental justice and nine serve youth. Learn about the grants awarded.

For more information, contact Patience Caso at

Girl dumping waste from tray into sorting station bin in school cafeteria

School recycling grants awarded

The county recently awarded six school recycling grants totaling over $60,000. These projects will allow schools to expand recycling and organics collection, start composting on-site, and reduce waste from single-use packaging and food service ware.

Grant recipients include one public school district and five non-public schools. The schools are located in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, and New Hope. Learn about the grants awarded.

For more information, contact Kira Berglund at

Seed grants for community-based clean energy projects available from CERTs

Yellow graphic with piggy bank icon that says get ready for a clean energy ribbon cutting in your community

Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) have seed grants available for clean energy projects that:

  • Support community-based clean energy, including those related to energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage.
  • Spur projects that are highly visible in their community and can be replicated by others.
  • Provide an opportunity for community education about clean energy and its many benefits.

Applications are due October 26. Learn more and apply.

Grants available to increase pollinator habitat on residential properties

Bee on purple blazing star

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and Blue Thumb are now accepting applications for the Lawns to Legumes program, which aims to increase habitat for at-risk pollinators on residential properties.

All Minnesota residents are eligible to apply for individual support grants, which reimburse gardeners for up to $300 in costs associated with establishing pollinator habitat in their yards. The program also offers workshops, coaching, and planting guides.

Applications for 2022 projects will be accepted through February 15, 2022. Learn more and apply.

Hennepin County partners with Corcoran landowner to control erosion and protect water quality

Earth moving equipment install erosion control practices in a farm field

Hennepin County natural resources staff recently completed an erosion control and water quality improvement project with a landowner in Corcoran. The farmer was having issues with erosion on a steep, sloped field. The sediment running off the slope ultimately reached a nearby lake, leading to water quality issues.

The landowner used a cost-share grant from Hennepin County to install a waterway, water and sediment control basin, and subsurface drainage. These practices help reduce erosion and manage stormwater while still allowing the farmer to move equipment in and out of surrounding fields. Over time, this project will help keep soil in the field and reduce nutrients running off into the nearby lake.

Funding to cover the total project cost of $35,000 came from the landowner, Hennepin County, the Elm Creek Watershed Management Commissions, and a State of Minnesota Clean Water Fund.

Funding available for similar projects in the Rush Creek subwatershed

Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment logo

Hennepin County has funding available from a state Clean Water Grant to support conservation projects on farms and other types of property in the Rush Creek subwatershed, which is an area of land where water flows into Henry Lake, Jubert Lake, and Rush Creek. This area, covering parts of Corcoran, Greenfield, and Rogers, ultimately drains into Elm Creek and the Mississippi River. Rush Creek is experiencing high levels of bacteria and excess nutrients and is a priority for water quality improvements.

Eligible conservation practices include cover cropping, fencing, drainage, grassed waterways, manure storage, wetland restoration, and more. Projects are funded based on their potential to improve water quality in the subwatershed and are designed in partnership with landowners to meet their own objectives at the same time, such as improving farm management or creating wildlife habitat.

For more information, contact Kevin Ellis and

New green cleaning recipe cards available

Recipe for all-purpose cleaner

You can protect your health and the health of your family, pets, and the environment by making your own cleaning products with simple, less-toxic ingredients. Making green cleaners can also be an effective way to reduce packaging waste. Many common household products, such as baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and liquid dish soap, can make effective and inexpensive cleaners.

Get started by using our digital recipe cards to mix up the following cleaners:

If you want to share with others, use our media kit (DOCX) to access graphics, an example newsletter article, and social media posts.

We’re hiring a waste reduction and recycling outreach specialist

Hennepin County Environment and Energy is hiring a Waste Reduction and Recycling Outreach Specialist that will support program managers with waste management planning and outreach to multifamily property managers and residents, businesses, schools, and residents to encourage waste prevention, recycling, and organics recycling.

This is a limited-duration, benefit-earning position up to two years. The position will be primarily remote with occasional on-site work in downtown Minneapolis. Applications are due on Monday, September 13. 

In the News

Deconstruction grants puts usable building materials back into the community

The demolition or remodel of older homes can lead to a lot of usable material being sent to the landfill. Homeowners and developers in Hennepin County can get grants to help offset the cost of salvaging, reusing, and recycling that material instead.

Edina TV recently featured a remodeling project in a home built in 1938 that received a deconstruction grant. Materials salvaged from the home include Douglas fir studs, doors, and cabinetry. These materials will go back into the community to be reused rather than going to a landfill.

Learn about the grants, eligibility, and requirements at

Screenshot of Edina deconstruction video showing old brick home with dumpster full of materials outside


Backyard composting webinars

Woman's hand adding veggie scraps to compost bin

Start turning food scraps and yard waste into compost—right in your own backyard. Learn how to get started by attending an upcoming webinar There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.

Upcoming webinars will be offered:

  • Friday, September 24 from noon to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 30 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Household hazardous waste collection event in Orono/Wayzata

Sign that says hazardous waste collection events with people dropping off materials in background

Hennepin County holds community collection events for county residents to safely and properly dispose of unwanted garden and household hazardous wastes. Events are held Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The final collection event for 2021 is being held September 17 and 18 at the Hennepin County Public Works Orono Shop, 3880 Shoreline Drive. Note: some navigation apps will list this address as Wayzata and some will list it as Orono. Both will bring you to the correct location.

Find health and safety guidelines and a list of acceptable materials at

Green Tip: Tips for talking about climate change

Two people sitting in chairs on a sidewalk having a conversation

Extreme weather and climate change have been in the news a lot lately as Minnesota experiences severe drought and poor air quality due to forest fires. This may leave you wondering what you can do. How about have a conversation with someone you know?

Conversations are important. They promote social change, develop social norms, and can be deeply influential to the people involved. But when it comes to climate change, we seem to have made an informal agreement as a society to not talk about the issue – a phenomenon referred to as “climate silence.”

Not talking about climate change leads to a perception that caring about and taking action on climate issues is not a social norm, which is why talking more about climate change is one of the most important actions we can take.

A new article on the climate action website provide tips for talking about climate change, including:

  • Remember that most people are concerned about the issue, and you might agree more than you expect.
  • Find common ground, including shared interests, areas of concern, and values.
  • Ask questions and genuinely listen.
  • Tell your story and share what actions and solutions you are excited about.
  • Emphasize the scientific consensus (that 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening) and the benefits of climate action – you don’t have to have a deep understanding of climate science to have an effective conversation.
  • Maintain realistic expectations for your conversation, enjoy it, and learn from it.

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