FORMATION OF THIS MAP
This map was created in three steps. First, existing biological and other information was mapped for the four-township area. Second, residents of the Avon Hills met to map areas that they believed were important for a variety of reasons, including aesthetic and cultural. Finally, these two actions were integrated into a single map. To create the initial four-township map, information was assembled for the following:
Sensitive species data came from the DNR Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program, high quality habitats from the DNR County Biological Survey, and natural vegetation from the DNR Land Cover data project. Natural vegetation included forest, savanna, grassland, forested wetland, shrub wetland, and herbaceous wetland. Wetland data were developed by combining the National Wetlands Inventory data and the DNR Land Cover data. Buffers were drawn around some of the features in the landscape:
In February, 2004, using the above maps as a guide, residents of the Avon Hills met in township groups and combined the above data with their own experience and knowledge to create a map that defined the important areas of their township. Three special area types were identified:
Upland Conservation Areas (GREEN) contain continuous forest that provides wildlife habitat and supports sensitive species of animals and plants. They also provide clean water for the aquatic system. These fairly large tracts of intact forest are unique in this part of the state. To a great extent, it is the large tracts of rolling forest that define the nature of the Avon Hills.
Lowland Conservation Areas (BLUE) contain areas that are important to maintain water quality and natural water flow to lakes and streams. They also contain wetlands that provide wildlife habitat and support sensitive species. Some locations are areas where storm water management is an issue, such as along the I-94 interstate corridor.
Recreational and Rural Beauty Areas (RED) preserve rural beauty and the opportunity for residents and others to continue to pursue recreation in nature. Those travel corridors which are seen as especially scenic and well traveled were targeted.
Accuracy of the Resource Area lines MUST be interpreted as an indicator of important features on the ground, but not as the exact line where the features begin or end.
USE OF THIS MAP
This complex map is useful to Avon Hills residents but requires some practice to use. There are three important types of areas shown as shading on top of more detailed areas. These areas—Upland Conservation Areas, Lowland Conservation Areas, and Recreational and Rural Beauty areas—are identified by their broad and extensive shapes in pale green, blue, and red.
Underneath the shaded areas are additional details that explain why these areas are important. Beneath the pale green Upland Conservation Areas can be seen dark green forests that provide high quality habitat (Higher Quality Upland Plant Community). The light green forests also provide habitat, but of a lower quality (Upland Land Cover 1991). Inside the forests are found red dots representing sensitive forest bird species. Also in the Upland Conservation Areas can be found savanna and grassland habitats of greater and lesser quality.
A similar system is used for the pale blue Lowland Conservation Areas. Higher quality habitat, lesser quality habitat, and sensitive species all appear beneath the pale blue shading. The Recreational and Rural Beauty areas also contain some of these natural features, but in lesser amounts.
Note that higher quality habitat, sensitive species, and lesser quality habitat (that is, Land Cover) exists outside the pale green, pale blue, and pale red shaded areas. This is due to Avon Hills residents choosing to focus attention on the concentrations of the important natural and cultural features of the Avon Hills. This is not to say that a high quality forest outside a pale green Upland Conservation Area is not important. The map only suggests that more priority should be focused inside the shaded areas.
LIMITATIONS OF THIS MAP
Sensitive species and high quality habitat information was provided for this project by the Minnesota County Biological Survey and Minnesota Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. The County Biological Survey analyzed and mapped high quality habitat in the Avon Hills and makes the information widely available in printed and digital form. The information is not based on a comprehensive inventory and some rare or otherwise significant natural features in the Avon Hills may not be represented. Survey work for sensitive species (rare plants and animals) is less exhaustive than for high quality habitat. This is the best data available, but it is still a limited study of a complex ecosystem.
Again, accuracy of the Resource Area lines MUST be interpreted as an indicator of important features on the ground, but not as the exact line where the features begin or end. The lines have no legal bearing. The working group sees this map as an imperfect, but valuable tool in discussions of preserving the rural landscape of the Avon Hills.