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
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2014
End Date
December 2019
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

The Anoka Sand Plain Partnership restored / enhanced 3,714 acres of priority prairie, savanna, forest, wetland, and shoreline habitat on public lands and waters within the Anoka Sand Plain EcoRegion within the Metropolitan Urbanizing, Forest-Prairie, and Northern Forest regions. Total R/E acreage achieved over the course of the appropriation is 126% of our stated acreage goals, and was accomplished through a robust partnership of four direct recipients improving a total of 16 priority sites including WMAs, state forest, national wildlife refuges, city and county lands. 

Project Details

The Anoka Sand Plain Partnership includes government agencies and organizations working to protect, enhance and restore the lands and waters of the Anoka Sand Plain. 

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 <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 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 were realized:
1. Expansion of ongoing restoration/enhancement to 16 new project areas;
2. Restoration/enhancement of 3,714 acres, 126% of our 2,952 acres goal, of habitat across priority lands and waters. 

Direct recipients and their project sites in this program were:

1. Anoka Conservation District
 a. Beach Conservation Easement - 51 acres were restored by control of non-native invasive herbaceous and shrub species, and interseeding with pollinator species.
 b. Rum River Riparian Restoration (Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Rum River Central Regional Park) – One mile of eroding riverbank has been identified along the Rum River on public lands, impacting habitat for fish species. Actions: Enhancement of 970 feet of riparian and adjacent instream habitat through installation of weirs, cedar revetments, and willow staking. 
 c. Martin-Island-Linwood Regional Park – Anoka County supports over 3,000 acres of high quality (MCBS mapped) natural forest habitat on public lands, Actions: Enhancement of 79 acres of MCBS forest habitat, treated at the very effective early detection / low density phase of infestation.
 c. Linwood Community Forest – Anoka County supports over 3,000 acres of high quality (MCBS mapped) natural forest habitat on public lands, Actions: Enhancement of 72 acres of MCBS forest habitat through buckthorn control treated at the very effective early detection / low density phase of infestation.

2. Great River Greening
 a.Sand Dunes State Forest – The MnDNR's 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; an unanticipated public process was then initiated during this appropriation. Actions: Enhancement of 178 acres of priority habitat through 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: Construction of 19 miles of fence, encompassing 9600 acres, and initiation of conservation grazing on 2134 acres (527 wetland, 1607 oak savanna). 
 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 83 acres of oak woodland and forest, through woody invasive species control, plus enhancement of 35 acres of prairie with inter-plugging of pollinator forbs. 
 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 134 acres of oak woodland and prairiee 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 28 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 15 acres of woodland through removal of woody invasive species and prescribed burning
 b. Irving and John 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 80 acres of upland forest and restored prairie. Actions:Enhancement of forest through invasive species control; restoration of 155 feet of river shoreline.

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
Measurable Outcome(s)

2 acres restored, 3,712 acres enhanced for a total of 3,714 acres

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

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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