Accelerated Native Prairie Bank Protection-Phase VII

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
In Progress
Start Date
July 2018
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Project Overview

Native Prairie Bank will work with willing landowners to permanently protect 380 acres of native prairie and supporting habitat through 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 380 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’s 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. 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 128 Native Prairie Banks protect over 11,000 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 Conservation 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.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2018, Ch. 208, Art. 1, Sec. 2, subd 2(f)
Appropriation Language

$1,490,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources to acquire permanent
conservation easements to protect and restore
native prairie according to Minnesota Prairie
Conservation Plan. Of this amount, up to $176,000
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, part 6136.0900, priority must be
given to acquiring 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

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
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 and wetlands are perpetually protected and adequately buffered - -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 Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Street Address
1241 E Bridge Street
Redwood Falls
Zip Code
(507) 637-6016
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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