Dakota County is 593 square miles in area and has a population of approximately 400,000. Situated in the southeast corner of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, it is the third most populous county in the state of Minnesota. Dakota County maintains a land use mixture of 1/3 urban, 1/3 suburban, and 1/3 rural. This combination of land use and the confluence of two major rivers (the Mississippi and Minnesota) that form the county's northern and eastern borders makes Dakota County a unique geographic area.
Founded in 1849, Dakota County was one of the original nine counties created by the Minnesota Territory Legislature. Thus, it was established before Minnesota was considered a state. The County seat moved to Hastings in 1857, where it has remained.
Between 1990 and 2000, Dakota County's population grew by nearly 30 percent. Today growth continues, with another five percent increase expected by the end of the decade. In recent years, second and third ring communities in Dakota County (Burnsville, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Farmington, Lakeville, and Rosemount) have dramatically increased in population, as development continues to move outwards from the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul, into suburban municipalities.
Several departments within Dakota County provide Environmental Educational opportunities:
The Environmental Management Department protects the environment by developing programs to manage solid waste, such as recycling, composting, and household hazardous waste. The Department also regulates sanitary landfills and other solid waste facilities and businesses which produce hazardous waste.
Resources for schools and community groups are available:
Parks and Open Space
* Provide opportunities to balance work with play to improve your quality of life
* Provide places for families, neighbors, and communities to interact
* Contribute to the health and well-being of individuals, the community, and the natural environment
* Add economic value to our area; an investment in the future
Over 4,700 acres of regional and county parks are located within Dakota County. The Dakota County Parks Department:
* Provides clean, modern facilities for you to enjoy year-round
* Offers activities and environmentally focused outdoor education and recreation programs for lifelong learning
* Maintains general use areas and manages development while protecting the natural resources within the parks
* Admission to the general park use areas is free. Fees are charged for special use areas.
Programs and activities are available for school and community groups as well as the general public:
The Water Resources Department focuses on preserving and restoring the quality of water resources by implementing and coordinating water planning; identifying and changing practices that degrade groundwater; managing well, shoreland, floodplain, feedlot and septic system regulating programs; addressing impaired waters; and providing educational outreach.
In addition, the Water Resources Department monitors and analyzes groundwater to identify contaminants, their sources, and flow paths. Specific studies include the annual Ambient Groundwater Study and the Hastings Area Nitrate Study II.
The Water Resources Department is the operational agent for the Vermilion River Watershed and collaborates with the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District (http://www.dakotaswcd.org/) to monitor and analyze surface water flow and pollutant sources.
Resources are available for individuals and community groups: