Accelerating the Wildlife Management Area Program - Phase X
This proposal accelerates the protection of 1,030 acres of strategic prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitats as State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) open to public hunting. Pheasants Forever (PF) will be acquiring tracts that build onto or create a corridor between existing protected lands which will be transferred to the MN Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) to be included as a WMA. All acquisitions will occur within the prairie, prairie/forest transition, and metro planning regions. These areas have seen the greatest decline in upland and wetland habitat.
Pressures from development, industry, and agriculture continue to mount on wildlife habitat within the farmland regions of Minnesota. In fact, despite our collective investments in conservation, many of the agricultural counties in Minnesota are continuing to experience a net loss of wildlife habitat. This unfortunate reality is exacerbated by the conversion of lands expiring out of CRP. In the next four years, Minnesota's agricultural landscape is set to experience a loss of over 500,000 acres due to expiration out of CRP. This equates to roughly a 20% loss of our grassland habitat necessary for pheasants, ducks, and the suite of grassland species that call Minnesota home. Now, more than ever, it is time to accelerate our investments in permanently protected high-quality habitat complexes that will protect, sustain, and increase Minnesota’s wildlife populations. Providing public habitat for Minnesotans to hunt, trap, fish and otherwise recreate in the outdoors are urgent needs for Minnesota's growing citizenry. Access to the outdoors is fundamental to ensuring Minnesota’s outdoor heritage is passed on to future generations. In addition, these public areas help bolster the economy as hunters in Minnesota support over 12,400 jobs and spend $733 million annually.To help slow and reverse the loss of habitat and declining wildlife populations, PF and our partners will protect (fee acquisition from willing sellers) 1,030 acres of high priority grassland (native prairie if available), wetland, and wildlife habitat as WMAs throughout the pheasant range of Minnesota. PF is striving to build landscape-level habitat complexes that will protect and sustain wildlife populations. Many of the potential projects are additions to existing WMAs which were originally acquired in partnership with MNDNR, local PF chapters, and conservation partners.Projects were developed and selected in conjunction with local and regional DNR staff. All projects will meet standards and requirements for inclusion into the WMA system and DNR Commissioner approval will be received for any project funded under this proposal. In addition to meeting the minimum WMA standards, additional criteria are used to develop the potential project list including: 1) Does the parcel contain habitat restoration potential that will result in an increase in wildlife populations? 2) Does the parcel build upon existing investments in public and private land habitat (landscape scale significance)? 3) Does the parcel contain significant natural communities or will it protect or buffer significant natural communities? 4) Does the parcel have the potential and focus on habitat protection and restoration in the future? 5) Does the parcel provide multiple benefits (recreation, access, water control, water quality, wellhead protection, lakeshore, local community support, etc.)?Providing high-quality habitat and keeping future management concerns in mind, all acquisitions will be restored and/or enhanced to as high quality as practicable, with the belief that quality and comprehensive restorations utilizing native species result in lower management costs. Acquired croplands will be permanently retired and restored to diverse grasslands and wetlands habitat. Restorations will also consider the needs of the monarch butterfly and native prairie.
$5,740,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with
Pheasants Forever to acquire in fee and restore
lands for wildlife management under Minnesota
Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. 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 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..Key core parcels are protected for fish, game and other wildlife - Number of new parcels protected. Number of parcels added to existing habitat complexes and resulting percent increase in permanently protected acres of habitat complex..
PF, federal or private source