Accelerated Native Prairie Bank Protection - Phase VI

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,481,000
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Recipient
DNR
Recipient Type
State Government
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2017
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2017, Ch. 91, Art. 1, Sec. 2, subd. 2(f)
Appropriation Language

$2,481,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire permanent conservation easements to implement the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan to protect and restore native prairie. Of this amount, up to $140,000 is for establishing monitoring and enforcement funds as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules 6136.0900, priority must be given to acquisitions of lands that are eligible for the native prairie bank under Minnesota Statutes, section 84.96 or lands adjacent to protected native prairie. A list of permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,481,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$2,461,700
Administration costs
$19,300
Number of full time equivalents funded
0.49
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - -Acres of native prairie protected from conversion insuring grassland habitat for upland birds
-Acres of native prairie protected which house threatened, endangered and Species of Greatest Conservation Need
-Acres protected within Prairie Plan Core and Corridor Areas
-Average size of protected complex.Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - -Acres of native prairie protected from conversion insuring grassland habitat for upland birds
-Acres of native prairie protected which house threatened, endangered and Species of Greatest Conservation Need
-Acres protected within Prairie Plan Core and Corridor Areas
-Average size of protected complex.

Project Overview

The Native Prairie Bank Program will work with willing landowners to permanently protect 415 acres of native prairie and supporting habitat in perpetual conservation easements. Easement acquisition will focus on Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan identified landscapes and target Minnesota Biological Survey identified threatened and endangered plant and animal species, high quality plant communities, and key habitats for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and other wildlife species.

About the Issue

The loss of native prairie and associated grassland habitat is arguably the greatest conservation challenge facing western and southern Minnesota. Through accelerated acquisition of Native Prairie Bank conservation easements, this proposal aims to permanently protect 415 acres of native prairie habitat.Acceleration is necessary to address today's rapid loss of native prairie and associated grasslands. Today, only about 1.3% of Minnesota original 18 million acres of prairie remains. The few remaining acres of native prairie once were thought of as unsuitable for crop production, however with advancements in technology and equipment, in addition to growing competition for tillable acres, this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, grassland-to-cropland conversion is not the only impact to native prairie, significant degradation and loss is also occurring due to property development, mineral extraction and lack of prairie-oriented management. If the current trajectory of grassland and prairie loss continues it will be devastating to grassland dependent wildlife populations.Recognizing that protecting grassland and wetland habitat is one of the most critical conservation challenges facing Minnesota, over a dozen leading conservation organizations developed the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan. Several outcomes are identified in the plan, one being the protection of all remaining native prairie, largely through conservation easements. One of the primary easement tools for native prairie protection in Minnesota is the DNR administered Native Prairie Bank easement program. Native Prairie Bank was established by the 1987 legislature to protect native prairie by authorizing the state to acquire conservation easements from willing landowners. To date 121 Native Prairie Banks protect over 10,000 acres. Native Prairie Bank targets the protection of native prairie tracts, but can also include adjoining lands as buffers and additional habitat. Eligible tracts are prioritized based on several scientific factors including:1) Size and quality of habitat, focusing on diverse native prairie communities identified by the Minnesota Biological Survey2) Occurrence of threatened and endangered species or suitability of habitat for Species in Greatest Conservation Need3) Lands that are part of a larger habitat complexNative Prairie Bank easements provide enduring, long-term protection by placing restrictions on future land use, including, but not limited to:1) No topographic changes or alterations to the natural landscape (plow, drain, fill, etc.)2) No dumping trash or garbage3) Motor vehicle use limited to management purposes (weed control, prescribed burning, etc.)4) No drawing of water for irrigation or other uses5) No building or placing structures on the protected property6) No subdivision of the parcel7) No introduction of invasive species8) No pesticide use without DNR approvalAdditionally, Native Prairie Bank easements grant the DNR the right to monitor and manage the prairie.Native Prairie Bank coordinates with Minnesota Prairie Plan partners and utilizes the network of established Local Technical Teams (local staff from SWCDs, NRCS, DNR, USFWS, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, etc.) to reach out to landowners and increase enrollment. Currently, there is a waiting list of willing landowners wishing to enroll in Native Prairie Bank.

Project Manager
First Name
Judy
Last Name
Schulte
Organization Name
MN DNR
Street Address
1241 E Bridge Street
City
Redwood Falls
State
MN
Zip Code
56283
Phone
(507) 637-6016
Email
judy.schulte@state.mn.us