Accelerating the Waterfowl Production Area Program - Phase X
This proposal accelerates the strategic permanent protection of 915 acres (220 wetlands and 695 grasslands) of Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) open to public hunting in Minnesota. Pheasants Forever (PF) will strategically acquire parcels that are adjacent to existing public land or create corridors between complexes. All acquisitions will occur in the prairie, prairie/forest transition, or metro regions.
The loss of grassland and wetland habitats in Minnesota is well documented. In the agricultural region of Minnesota over 90% of our wetlands and 99% our prairie grasslands have been converted for other uses. This proposal aims to slow or reverse this downward trend by strategically acquiring and restoring previously converted wetland and grassland habitats to be permanently protected as WPAs. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and their partners have been employing this strategy for over 50-years through the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program (SWAP). This tenth phase of the WPA acceleration program builds upon past work of the USFWS SWAP as well as the previous nine phases of this effort by strategically acquiring 915 acres (220 acres of wetlands and 695 acres of grassland habitat) for the benefit of upland species and recreational opportunities of the public. Strategic properties will be identified by using landscape level planning tools [e.g. Thunderstorm Maps produced by the USFWS’s Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET)]. Based on HAPET evaluation strategies, modeling predictions can be made on the numbers of nesting waterfowl, grassland nesting birds, and other wildlife the acres impacted by this grant application can produce. In addition to wildlife benefits, the lands acquired and restored through this grant will provide improved water quality, groundwater recharge, and flood abatement benefits. These strategies are well tested and are supported by the greater conservation community 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 USFWS and PF will notify counties prior to the acquisition of lands. Once acquired, the USFWS will make a one-time payment (called a Trust Fund payment) to the county where the property is located. In addition, the USFWS will make annual refuge revenue sharing payments for all fee lands within the respective counties.Additional funding for restoration and development 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. All wetlands, on the properties acquired, will be restored by either surface ditch “plugs", breaking sub-surface tile lines, or other best practices for wetland restoration. Grasslands will be restored by planting site-appropriate native grasses and forbs following known best practices for establishment. Grassland restoration on individual tracts may take three to five years, involving one to two years of post-acquisition farming to prepare the site for seeding (e.g. weed management issues, chemical carryover, other site-specific issues). Other restoration activities could include invasive tree removal, building site-cleanup, prescribed fire, etc. as necessary to provide high-quality habitat and public access to the citizens of Minnesota.
$5,061,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with
Pheasants Forever to acquire lands in fee and to
restore and enhance wetlands and grasslands 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.
Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - Number of acres of wetlands and uplands protected and restored..Protected habitats will hold wetlands and shallow lakes open to public recreation and hunting - Number and acres of wetlands protected and restored. Number of acquisitions that provide additional access to existing public lands..Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - Number of acres of wetlands and uplands protected and restored..
Private, Federal, Private, PF