Turning into Lebanon Hills Regional Park from a busy Cliff Road in Eagan brings visitors into a vast natural area with miles of trails, a dozen small lakes, a swimming beach, campgrounds, and a bustling education center.
Lebanon Hills is Dakota County’s largest park and people throughout the metro area rank it as a favorite for its beauty, accessible location, well-marked trails, and family-centric programs. Its popularity endures year-round, with people currently enjoying the cross country ski paths that wind throughout.
A Dying Oak Savanna
Despite the area’s intrinsic beauty, 75 acres of critical oak savanna habitat is at serious risk of degradation. Invasive buckthorn has overtaken the landscape, choking out hundreds of oak trees that provide habitat and sustenance to important wildlife. Upwards of 100 animal species depend on oak trees for survival, from tunneling ants to white-tailed deer.
Without a major restoration effort hundreds of oak trees – many of which are centuries old – will begin losing their leaves, bark, and extensive root systems. Over time, the area will slowly change from a diverse and healthy ecosystem into a field of invasive buckthorn. The native wildlife will die off, pests will grow abundant, and families will stop visiting the park to connect with nature.Simply put, we need your help.
“This work is made possible in part by support from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and Dakota County Natural Resources program.