Accelerating the Waterfowl Production Area Program, Phase 3
$9,815,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever to accelerate the acquisition of wetlands and grasslands to be added to the waterfowl production area system in Minnesota in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protect in Fee 465 acres of wetland and 1,802 acres of prairies
PF, FWS, Federal Operation Funds
This program accelerated the permanent protection of 2,267 acres of wetlands (465 acres) and grasslands (1,802 acres) as Waterfowl Production Areas open to public hunting in Minnesota. Over the course of the appropriation, PF acquired 18 parcels for a total of 2,267 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 2,250 acres by 17 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we exceeded our acre goal for both the metropolitan area by 61 acres and in the prairie area by 346 acres. We have exceeded anticipated match of $5,125,000 by $771,500. We have a balance of $88,200 that will be returned to the Fund despite exceeding our acre goals which demonstrates the high level of efficiency which Pheasants Forever operates at.
In total, we under-spent on our budget, over delivered on acre goals, and over delivered on match leverage received.
Working in close collaboration with partners, Pheasants Forever acquired 2,267 acres of strategic habitat that builds onto existing protected lands and/or develops corridors for wildlife. All lands acquired have been enrolled into the Federal Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) Program and will be protected and managed in perpetuity by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). We have worked together with federal, state and local partners when acquiring the 18 parcels which will now be celebrated as new WPAs. These new WPAs not only provides access and recreational opportunities for all Minnesotans, but helps reduce erosion, improve water filtration, and provide quality habitat for many of Minnesota's non-game species.
The offers to the landowner were based on fair market values and appraisals. The acquired parcels addressed a backlog of willing sellers that now are helping slow the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat in Minnesota. Parcels were identified jointly with the USFWS, ranked, and prioritized on habitat goals and feasibility. Pheasants Forever's methods are formed around the principle of accelerating the Waterfowl Production Area program in MN by targeting only the best available habitat with willing sellers. We utilize local partner expertise to focus on building a system of interconnected wildlife complexes that create habitat mosaics. We also utilize the latest geospatial layers to help determine factors such as: habitat restoration potential, landscape scale significance, presence of rare features and native habitat, and how these acquisitions fit into other priorities for our partners such as the MN Prairie Conservation Plan, the Pheasant Action Plan, or the State Wildlife Action Plan.
All parcels acquired were restored and/or enhanced to as a high quality as practicable. The grassland restoration included using a broadcast or drill seeded method with a diverse mix of native grasses and forb species. Wetland restorations included using a combination of tile breaking, sediment removal, dike construction, and water control structures. Scattered invasive tree removal and prescribed fire were used where appropriate to enhance existing grassland habitat after protection.