Minnesota's Legacy

Anoka Sandplain Habitat Restoration and Enhancement, Phase III

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Anoka Conservation District, Isanti County, Great River Greening, Stearns County SWCD
In Progress
Start Date
July 2014
End Date
June 2019
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2014, Ch. 256, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 2(i)
Appropriation Language

$1,190,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements to restore and enhance wildlife habitat on public lands in Anoka, Benton, Isanti, Morrison, Sherburne, and Stearns Counties as follows: $155,000 is to Anoka Conservation District; $79,000 is to Isanti County Parks Department; $901,000 is to Great River Greening; and $55,000 is to Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District. A list of proposed land restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Improved aquatic habitat vegetation - FWS and Greening staff will monitor the results of wetland restoration/enhancement work at Sherburne and Crane Meadows NWRs..Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands - The ASP Partnership targets its work in part toward larger landscape systems remaining or restorable in the ecoregion and work with land managers to create complexes via a variety of mechanisms and using native species. Restoration/enhancement success is evaluated/monitored through land management agencies over time..Protected, restored, and enhanced aspen parklands and riparian areas - Oak savanna and parkland is a priority target of our work in the Anoka Sandplain. Restoration/enhancement success is evaluated/monitored by land management agencies over time. SGCN species monitoring is carried out by DNR staff across the ecoregion..Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - At specific sites (e.g., Sand Dunes State Forest, Sherburne NWR, Crane Meadows NWR), monitoring of breeding birds is conducted by citizen volunteers, DNR staff, and FWS employees to track population/abundance of upland birds and wildlife..A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - Partners target priority lands using Metro Conservation Corridor mapping and other available tools/plans. Analysis of mapping shows progress in enhancing quality of corridors over time. Ongoing inventory by county and DNR employees and others track occurrences of SGCN species, which are fed into the DNR central database..Core areas protected with highly biologically diverse wetlands and plant communities, including native prairie, Big Woods, and oak savanna - Partners target priority lands using Metro Conservation Corridor mapping, County Biological Survey data and other other available tools/plans. Analysis of mapping shows progress in enhancing quality of corridors over time. .

Source of Additional Funds

Isanti County Parks; City of Cambridge, Anoka County; Anoka SWCD, Anoka PF; Anoka SWCD, Great River Greening, USFWS, NWTF, Mn NPEAP, City of Anoka; Anoka County

Project Overview

The Anoka Sandplain Partnership (Phase 3) proposal will restore and enhance 2,952 acres of wildlife habitat on priority public lands principally within the Anoka Sandplain Ecological Region within the Metropolitan Urbanizing, Forest-Prairie, and Northern Forest regions.

About the Issue

The Anoka Sandplain Partnership includes >23 government agencies and organizations working to protect, enhance and restore the lands and waters of the Anoka Sandplain. Using a slate of information to target our actions – DNR’s MCBS Sites of Biodiversity Significance, Regionally Ecological Significant Areas, and Habitat Corridors – we put forward an ambitious third proposal to accelerate restoration/enhancement of important wildlife habitat.

Problems Addressed

Wildlife 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 Sandplain - now persist over 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 CWCP identifies maintenance, enhancement and protection of oak savannas as its first priority in addressing the 97 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) occurring in this ecological subsection.
3. Government agencies often lack sufficient resources/capacity to manage important lands. Inadequate funding/capacity for restoration activities on public lands has resulted in declines in the condition of Minnesota’s most important wildlife habitats.

Scope of Work

The following outcomes will be realized:
1. Expansion of ongoing restoration/enhancement to 17 new project areas. Sites include: 3 state WMAs and 1 state Forest; 2 national wildlife refuges; and 11 local/county/regional parks;
2. Restoration/enhancement of 2,952 acres of habitat across priority lands and waters.

Proposed Project Areas:

Participating partners in this proposal include:

1. Anoka Conservation District
a. Anoka Nature Preserve, Phase 2 – On the banks of the Rum River, this 200-acre forest/field/wetland preserve provides habitat for a diversity of species. Actions: Restoration of 55 acres of old field into prairie.
b. Rum River Riparian Restoration, Cedar Creek Nature Preserve – One mile of eroding riverbank has been identified along Anoka County’s Rum River on public park lands, impacting habitat for fish species. Actions: Enhancement of 550 feet of riparian and adjacent instream habitat through installation of weirs, cedar revetments, and willow staking.
c. Buckthorn Clean Sweep – Anoka County supports over 3,000 acres of high quality (MCBS mapped) natural forest habitat on public lands, Actions: Enhancement of 148 acres of MCBS forest habitat on public lands at Linwood Community Forest and Martin-Island-Linwood Regional Park through buckthorn control.

2. Great River Greening
a.Sand Dunes State Forest – The new SDSF Operational Plan (2013), developed to bring balance between economic and ecological assets of the Forest, identifies 630 acres of the 5,700-acre forest for immediate action to address imperiled native plant communities and rare species. Actions: Enhancement of 336 acres of priority habitat through pine removal, prescribed burning, and invasive species control.
b. Sherburne NWR, Phase 3 – This 30,700-acre refuge was created to protect/restore habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife, with a focus on oak savanna, wetlands and Big Woods habitat. Actions: Enhancement of 1,400 acres of wetland/meadow and oak savanna habitat through prescribed fire, herbicide cattail control, and initiation of a grazing regime (with construction of a 9.5 mile fence).
c. Crane Meadows NWR – Crane Meadows was established to preserve the state’s largest sedge meadow wetland complex and associated breeding sandhill crane population, and includes a diverse mix of native prairie, savanna, and wetlands. Actions: Enhancement of 480 acres of habitat through woody thinning/control, seeding, and tree planting.
d. BenLacs WMA – This 569-acre WMA includes forest interspersed with wetlands, offering diverse recreational opportunities ranging from hunting/fishing to skiing. Actions: Enhancement of 322 acres of mixed forest and wetland habitat through woody invasive species control.
e. McDougall Homestead WMA – This 228-acre WMA of high-quality floodplain forest, oak woodland and restored prairie, lies along the Mississippi River and is home to more than 30 SGCN. Actions: Enhancement of 45 acres of oak woodland and savanna through woody invasive species control.
f. Sand Prairie WMA, Phase 2 – This 700-acre WMA is characterized by prairie and aspen/oak woodland, and is the first designated Environmental Education Area in the state, providing strong connections to local schools/colleges. Actions: Enhancement of 40 acres of oak woodland through invasive species control.
g. Kelsey Round Lake Park – Situated on Round Lake, the park’s woodlands and restored prairies provide habitat for many species ranging from waterfowl and songbirds to Blanding’s turtles. Actions: Enhancement of 15 acres of Big Woods forest through invasive species control and planting.

3. Isanti County Parks
a. Vegsund County Park – This 80-acre park consists of oak woodland, restored prairies, wetlands, along 1/2 mile of Lake Seventeen’s undeveloped shoreline, an attractive fishery. Actions: Enhancement of 18 acres of woodland through removal of woody invasive species and prescribed burning
b. Anderson County Park – The 174-acre park lies adjacent to Horseshoe and Horse Leg lakes, and consists of wetlands, prairie and oak savanna/woodland in the process of restoration. Actions: Enhancement of 18 acres of oak woodland through removal of woody invasive control and prescribed fire.
c. Springvale County Park, Phase 2 – This 211-acre park is situated on Johnny’s Lake and lies on rolling eskers of prairie, woodlands and wetlands. Actions: Enhancement of 34 acres of oak woodland through removal of woody invasive control and prescribed burning.
d. Cambridge City Park – This 151-acre park protects floodplain forest situated along 1.5 miles of the Wild & Scenic Rum River. Actions: Enhancement of 39 acres of floodplain forest through woody invasive control.

4. Stearns SWCD
a. Mississippi River County Park – This 340-acre park contains 1.3 miles of Mississippi River frontage, and 80 acres of upland forest and restored prairie managed in their natural state. Actions: Restoration of 630 feet of river shoreline.

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Great River Greening
Street Address
35 W Water Street Suite 201
St. Paul
Zip Code
(651) 665-9500