Accelerated Prairie and Grassland Management, Phase 1
This program will complete the initial WMA site development on 1,500 acres of land acquired in the Accelerated Prairie Grassland WMA and Accelerated Wetland WMA Acquisition programs to meet standards for inclusion in the Outdoor Recreation System. This program will also accelerate the restoration, enhancement and management of at least 5,180 acres of native prairie vegetation on existing public lands. Prairie restoration efforts include site preparation, seeding of local ecotype seed, post-seeding management to assure success, and seed harvest of local ecotype seed for prairie restoration at other public land sites. Prairie management efforts will include prescribed burning, managing woody cover encroachment, mowing and interseeding of diverse grass and forb species.
Native grasslands are a rarity of MN, less than 1 percent remains.? Prairie ecosystems have evolved with fire disturbance, and much of the prairie vegetation and prairie obligated wildlife species depend upon it.? Grassland birds, for example, have had a steeper more consistent and widespread poplation declines than any other group of North American avifauna.? Prairie ecosystem are also threatened by the encroachment and dominance of woody species and exotic plants.?
Since settlement, most prairie sited in the targeted area have not been exposed to natural ecological processes (such as fire and grazing) needed for sustaining or enhancing prairire plant communities.? Furthermore, many existing grassland sites on state-owned public lands need to be restore to native prairie vegetation to imrove wildlife habitat and reduce long-term maintenance costs.? Creation of accelerated prairie management teams woudl address a long-standing "back log" of managemenr need by implementing intensive prairie stewardship practices.?
Although MN DNR has the traiing and know-how to restor and mange high quality prairie vegetation currently fundign has been insufficient to meet all needs.? MN DNR manager over 450,000 acres of grasslands and many sites on publci lands are currently not being actively managed to realixe full poltntial as a plant community or wildlife habitat.? Re-establishing prairie on public lands requires periodic burning, inter-seeding grasslands with native species, and up to 5 years or brome that have low habitat values.? Furthermore, exotic and/or invasive plants are encroaching into them.? Newly acquired areas and state-owned marginal croplands also need to be seeded and treated.? Using hight quality seed from established prairie sites to plant at other locatons has proven to be highly cost-effective.?
Managing and enhancing existing prairie vegetation on public lands requires periodic burning, grazing, and/or mowing.? Woody cover encroachment is an especially troublesome problem that must be addressed.? Removing tress and brush will be a major emphasis of this program at a cost of between $5 and $8 per tree - larger trees cost significantly more to remove than smaller trees.? Prairie enhancment work is done during primarily early spring, fall and winter.?
The Roadsides for Wildlf eProgram has been improving grassland habitat along MN roadsides since 1984.? On average, the DNR seeds native prairie on 50-300 acres of roadsides a year at 5-20 sites, typically on county and township roads.? In contrast, Iowa seeds approximately 3,000 acres a year.? The DNR will continue to work with counties and townships but will also accelerate seeing on state-owned highway right-of-ways (ROW).? Most of MN roadsides are resently dominated by smooth brome (a non-native grass) and are vectors of invasive species and disease.? Native grasses and wildflowers are mor beneficial to pollinators and wildlife.?
New WMA Initial Site Development - 1,500 acres - $300,000
New lands acquired through this program will require initial site development to make them functional WMA's.? This initial development will include restoring base ground to diverse mix of native grasses and planst, surveying and signing the coundaries and developing user facilities to protect them from encroachment and incontrolled intrusion, removing building and refuse sites and restoring to native vegetation, and closing all wells and septic systems to protect groundwater integrity.
Roadsides for Wildlife - 150 acres - $225,000
DNR will partner with MnDOT to place native prairie along I-35 begining at the Iowa border and extending the full width of the road corridor for 5 miles.? MnDOT will do soe site prep in 2009 and then a contractor will finish up site prep and do the planing next spring.? The contractor wil also perform mowing and spot spraying as needed throughout the 2010 growing season.? This are is on state owned MnDOT ROW and will showcase a diverse roadside planting.? This five-mile stretch of road is highly visible as a major entry point to the state of MN and the southern end of MN portion of the National Prairie Passage.?
Prairie Restoration and Management - 5,029 acres - $1,411,000
The primary focus of this program encompases 157 projects on 5,029 acres benefitting over 11,500 acres of planted and native grasslands.? The parcels include 157 projects that will be eompleted in 2 years or less with a total projected cost of $1.14 millin.? An additional 53 projects that will require 3 years or more to compolete have been identified as reserve sites.? The one and two year projects will be first priority.? Should budgets allow additional work, we would move down the list and begin implementation of longer duration projects.? In these instances, DNR will mst likely submit subsequent phases in future years for additional funding so the poejcts can be completed.?
Grassland restoration work will be primarily through seeding either bare ground (e.g. newly acquired agricultural fields) or old-field habitat (e.g. smooth brome).? Techniques for thsi work incldue site preparation such as mowing, spraying, or burning when necessary; direct seeding and aerial seeding (along some roadsides).? Seed will be obtained from vendors of local seed and harvested from native or restored prairie to supplement when needed.? Projects will be designed and managed by DNR personnel (except ROW project which will be managed by DOT).? Contract vendors will be used to the greatest extent possible although DNR staff may perform some work when suitable contractors are not available.?
Grassland management and enhancement work uses a number of techniques to reinvigorate or increase diversity of existing prairie type grasslands.? Without periodic disturbance such as burning, mowing, or grazing, grasslands decline in vigor and species diversity over time.? This portion of the project is designe to mimic natural disturbances, supplement species diversity when necessary and increase statnd vigor.? Techniques that will e employed include brush removal, chemical treatment, mowing, inter-seeding and burning.? Again contractors will beused to the greatest extent possible except in the case of burning.?
$1,700,000 in fiscal year 2010 is to the commissioner of natural resources to accelerate the restoration and enhancement of native prairie vegetation on public lands, including roadsides. A list of proposed projects, describing the types and locations of restorations and enhancements, must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. To the extent possible, prairie restorations conducted with money appropriated in this section must plant vegetation or sow seed only of ecotypes native to Minnesota, and preferably of the local ecotype, using a high diversity of species originating from as close to the restoration site as possible, and protect existing native prairies from genetic contamination.
Enhanced 5785 acres of Prairies