Anoka Sand Plain Habitat Conservation - Phase V

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Anoka Conservation District; Isanti County SWCD; Great River Greening;Stearns County SWCD; Minnesota Land Trust
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2017
End Date
December 2022
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Great River Greening (GRG), Anoka Conservation District (ACD), Isanti SWCD (ISWCD), Minnesota Land Trust (MLT), and Stearns SWCD (StSWCD) enhanced 339 acres, equaling 137% of the stated goal of 247 acres, and 0.12 miles of shoreline. Further, MLT permanently protected 86 forest and 181 wetland acres, equaling 334% of the stated goal of 80 acres, and 1.67 miles of shoreline through conservation easement. Enhancement and protection were completed across three LSOHC subsections on mapped sites ranked highly by Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS), on Minnesota Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) priority habitats, threatened habitat, and in habitat cores and corridors.

About the Issue

The Anoka Sand Plain (ASP) Partnership includes government units and non-profit organizations working to protect, enhance, and restore lands and waters within the Anoka Sand Plain Project Habitat Conservation boundary, which includes the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Anoka Sand Plain Ecoregion plus intersecting minor watersheds. Our work is guided by the processes and goals outlined in the partnership's 10-year strategic plan at With this appropriation, five ASP Partnership organizations were direct recipients and worked closely together and with input from additonal ASP partner organizations to protect, restore, and enhance priority habitats on state and local government land, public water, and private holdings. A sixth ASP partner, National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), contributed cash match.

Problems Addressed

Wildlife and rare plant habitat in the ASP is impacted by numerous threats, resulting in an urgent need for action:
1. Native habitats have become rare and continue to be lost. Oak savanna and prairie - the characteristic habitat of the Anoka Sand Plain - now persist over <1% of their historic range. Due to its proximity to the Twin Cities, the ASP is realizing immense development pressure on what native habitat remains.
2. Degradation of habitats on public lands and waters threatens associated wildlife populations. Reduction in habitat quality has had profound impacts on wildlife in the ASP. Minnesota?s SWAP identifies maintenance, enhancement and protection of oak savannas as its first priority in addressing the 97 Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) occurring in this ecological subsection.
3. Government agencies often lack sufficient resources and capacity to manage important lands. Inadequate funding/capacity for restoration and enhancement activities on public lands has resulted in declines in the condition of Minnesota?s most important wildlife habitats.
4. Permanent conservation easement protection was pursued for ecologically important areas. Like public institutions, private landowners also benefit from our resources in managing their land. Minnesota Land Trust uses a published set of scientific criteria to choose the highest available cost:benefit for easement projects.

We review scientific data sets during the course of our project development, and consult with landowners and other practitioners.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2017, Ch. 91, Art. 1, Sec. 2, subd. 2(j)
Appropriation Language

$1,130,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements to acquire permanent conservation easements and to restore and enhance wildlife habitat on public lands in Anoka, Benton, Isanti, Morrison, and Stearns Counties as follows: $41,000 is to Anoka Conservation District; $231,000 is to Isanti County Soil and Water Conservation District; $345,000 is to Great River Greening; and $163,000 is to Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District; and $350,000 is to Minnesota Land Trust of which up to $40,000 is for establishing monitoring and enforcement funds as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of proposed permanent conservation easements, restorations, and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Measurable Outcome(s)

Many of our completed sites are ranked highly for having examples of high quality natural communities and concentrations of rare species, as mapped by the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS). The ASP project boundary is known to provide home to some 115 state-listed plants and animals, the most diverse ecological subsection (in terms of rare species) in the state, and we are compelled to ensure the long-term viability of habitat for SGCN. This work provided a major step in that direction. Completed projects by category are:

1. Gordie Mikkelson WMA (ACD): Enhanced 82 acres of wetland and forest of high biodiversity significance as mapped by MBS.
2. Medvecky Woods 1 (ISWCD). Enhanced 10 acres of MBS ranked wetland with high concentration of rare species, on Cedar Creek.

3. Carlos Avery WMA (GRG): Enhanced 33 acres of oak savanna.
4. Blaine Wetland Sanctuary South (GRG): Enhanced 132 acres of shallow peat basin wetland, with state-listed Threatened and Endangered species.
5. Robert and Marilyn Burman WMA (MLT). Enhanced an additional nine acres of habitat core.
6. Vegsund Family County Park (ISWCD): Enhanced 10 acres of wetland.
7. Becklin Homestead County Park (ISWCD): Enhanced six acres of prairie in the Rum River corridor.

8. High Meadows Rum River Re-Meander (ISWCD): Reconnected main channel aquatic and shoreline habitat by blocking man-made shortcut.
9. Mississippi River Streambank (StSWCD): Restored 600 feet of major river streambank using high habitat value toe-wood design.

10. Conservation Easement (MLT): A total of 267 acres and 1.27 shoreland miles were permanently protected through conservation easement:
a)Tamarack Lake (Hanon Trust): A 101-acre project consisting of low-lying wetland complex surrounding 5,500 feet of shoreland.
b)Barrett Hill (Barrett Farm LLC): A150-acre woodland (86 acres with ASP5) and 1,202 feet of shoreline project located within a Site of Moderate Biodiversity Significance.
c)Sunrise River (Great River Energy, fully donated): An 80-acre property consisting of a diverse wetland complex, within a Site of Outstanding Biodiversity Significance, adjacent to Carlos Avery WMA

Proposed Outcomes Achieved
A total of 606 acres were affected: 0 Restored, 0 in Fee Title, 267 in Easements, 339 in Enhance.
Source of Additional Funds

ACD, ACD, NWTF, City of Blaine, DNR, Volunteers, ENRTF, Isanti County, DNR, Landowners, NWTF and Stearns County

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Great River Greening
Street Address
251 Starkey Street, Suite 2200 Suite 2200
Saint Paul
Zip Code
(651) 665-9500
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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