Accelerating the Waterfowl Production Area Program, Phase 5
$6,830,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever to acquire land in fee to be designated and managed as waterfowl production areas 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.
Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands.Water is kept on the land.Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need.Increased availability and improved condition of riparian forests and other habitat corridors.Improved access to public lands.A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need.Protected habitats will hold wetlands and shallow lakes open to public recreation and hunting.Improved access to public lands.Core areas protected with highly biologically diverse wetlands and plant communities, including native prairie, Big Woods, and oak savanna.Expiring CRP lands are permanently protected.Remnant native prairies and wetlands are permanently protected and are part of large complexes of restored prairie, grasslands, and large and small wetlands.Improved condition of habitat on public lands.Water is kept on the land.Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need.Improved access to public lands.
Federal GovernmentPF, Private, Federal Government
This proposal accelerates the permanent protection of 1,800 acres of wetlands (720 acres) and grasslands (1080 acres) as Waterfowl Production Areas open to public hunting in Minnesota.
The loss of grassland and wetland habitats in Minnesota is well documented. One of the primary ways to reverse this downward trend is to permanently acquire and restore previously converted wetland and grassland habitats on those properties. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and their partners have been employing this strategy for over 50-years with the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program (SWAP). This acceleration program acquires and restores 720 acres of wetland and 1080 acres of grassland habitats which will be permanently protected as Waterfowl Protection Areas managed by the Service. Using landscape level planning tools [e.g. Thunderstorm Maps produced by the Service’s Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET)], Pheasants Forever (PF) will acquire strategically identified properties. Based on HAPET evaluation strategies, modeling predictions can be made on the numbers of nesting waterfowl, grassland nesting birds, and other wildlife the acres affected by this grant application will produce. Besides the obvious wildlife benefits, once restored, the lands acquired through this grant will provide additional water quality, groundwater recharge, and flood abatement benefits. These strategies are well tested and are supported by the greater conservation community here in Minnesota. Hunting and fishing stakeholders are very interested in increasing opportunities for hunting and fishing public access and have used WPA’s extensively in the past. To address concerns related to the erosion of county tax revenues due to public land, the Service and PF will notify counties prior to acquisition of lands. Once acquired, the Service will make a one-time Trust Fund payment to the County where the property is located. In addition, the Service will make annual Refuge Revenue Sharing payments for all fee lands within the respective Counties.
Funding for restoration of the properties will be solicited from partners. If this funding is available, budgeted Outdoor Heritage restoration funds under this proposal would be able to accomplish additional fee title w/o PILT acquisition funds. Wetlands, on the properties acquired, will be restored by either surface ditch “plugs” or breaking sub-surface tile lines. Grasslands will be restored by planting appropriate native grasses and forbs to converted grassland habitats. Grassland restoration on individual tracts may take three to five years and involve one to two years of post acquisition farming to prepare the seed base, one year for seeding and one to two years to establish.