Camp Ripley ACUB - Phase VI
$1,500,000 the second year is to the Board of Water and Soil Resources, in cooperation with the Morrison County Soil and Water Conservation District, to acquire permanent conservation easements and restore forest wildlife habitat within the boundaries of the Minnesota National Guard Camp Ripley Compatible Use Buffer. Of this amount, up to $72,000 is to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund, as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report.
Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation - Camp Ripley lies along 18 miles of the Mississippi, and 8 miles along the Crow Wing River which are critical habitat for waterfowl and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need. We target parcels within the 3 mile radius around Camp Ripley adjacent to one another to create habitat corridors consistent with natural resource management, sustaining large tracts of green space/forested land. This program helps protect a 53,000 acre state game refuge (Camp Ripley) and buffers WMAs on the Gull/ Nokasippi Rivers. Lands under easement do not allow development and are enhanced conservation practices to improve habitat and land management. .Rivers and streams provide corridors of habitat including intact areas of forest cover in the east and large wetland/upland complexes in the west - Camp Ripley lies along 18 miles of the Mississippi, and 8 miles along the Crow Wing River which are critical habitat for waterfowl and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need. We target parcels within the 3 mile radius around Camp Ripley adjacent to one another to create habitat corridors consistent with natural resource management, sustaining large tracts of green space/forested land. This program helps protect a 53,000 acre state game refuge (Camp Ripley) and buffers WMAs on the Gull/ Nokasippi Rivers. Lands under easement do not allow development and are enhanced conservation practices to improve habitat and land management. .
The RIM Camp Ripley Partnership, Phase VI will protect and restore 660 acres of high quality habitat along the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers and buffer the Nokasippi and Gull River WMAs, using approximately 11 conservation easements.
The purpose of this initiative is to protect approximately 660 acres of fish, game, migratory bird, and forest habitat along the Crow Wing, Gull, Nokasippi, and Mississippi River corridors via 11 permanent conservation easements. This project will utilize partnerships with Camp Ripley, a State Game Refuge, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and the Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to implement natural resource management and planning to protect the Nokasippi River and Gull River Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). These river corridors are critical to the general public for fishing, hunting, and recreational opportunities. In addition, this corridor is instrumental to the State of Minnesota, MN National Guard (MNNG) and National Guard Bureau (NGB), local economy, the National Mississippi River Flyway, and Mississippi Head Waters Board.
MN DNR 2009 and 2010 fish surveys on the Crow Wing River (Staples to confluence of Mississippi) and Mississippi River (Brainerd to Little Falls) indicate high quality fish communities of walleye, muskellunge, and small-mouth bass. Also, Camp Ripley is home to one of the southern-most wolf populations in Minnesota and 65 species of Greatest Conservation Need including the state’s highest population of red shouldered hawks. Not only do the river corridors contain wildlife habitat but also provide public recreation opportunities. Camp Ripley along with the MN DNR hosts the largest public archery hunt in the United States with over 5,000 participants chasing record-book whitetails. Additionally, Camp Ripley also hosts deer hunts, i.e. Disabled American Veterans (DAV), youth hunt, Deployed Soldier Archery, and Deployed Soldier Muzzleloader. A Deployed Soldier and DAV turkey hunt are also provided along with a Trolling for the Troops fishing event. More than 13,000 hunting/angling person-days occur on Camp Ripley annually. Camp Ripley also makes available to the general public access to over 1,800 acres for walk-in recreational activities to include hunting on Camp lands adjacent to the Camp fence. The Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers contain over 15 public access points from Staples to the confluence of Mississippi and from Brainerd to Little Falls respectively. This project will protect the current habitat along existing public access areas.
Development along these corridors will have adverse effects to existing high quality wildlife habitat, local economies, and to the MNNG training program. Camp Ripley is located immediately adjacent to the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers. Camp Ripley contains 18 miles of Mississippi River frontage and 8 miles of Crow Wing River frontage. In many examples across the nation development adjacent to military training sites has limited the facilities’ ability to maintain their military mission. For example, the east shore of the Mississippi River has experienced high decibel levels due to weapon firing, and is also near the flight path of the Camp Ripley airfield. For that reason, the MNNG has asked the partnership to focus on land parcels directly adjacent to the Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers to help reduce potential conflicts with homeowners. In 2014, Camp Ripley’s economic impact to the local economy was $315 million dollars and Camp Ripley is the largest employer in Morrison County.
This project will build upon existing Camp Ripley partnership success with the Army Compatible Use Buffer program (ACUB). This federal program provides funds to protect adjacent lands from encroaching development and in the process protects the training center. Since 2004, Camp Ripley partners have completed 138 land transactions. The MN DNR completed 19 transactions representing 1,792 acres and BWSR completed 123 land transactions representing 15,000 acres. Collectively, Camp Ripley partners enrolled over 16,792 acres into conservation easements and fee acquisitions.
Easements that focus on forest, riparian and high value ecological habitat are funded through the OHF. Easements that are primarily working agricultural lands and provide a direct buffer to Camp Ripley are funded through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. So although not directly leveraging funds on the same piece of land the overall project indirectly leverages federal and state funds. Camp Ripley has leveraged over $23 million dollars from National Guard Bureau and Department of Army and is a national leader in the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. Camp Ripley plans to leverage 2015-16 NGB and Department of Army federal funds to match LSOHC funds.
Furthermore, from 2010 through 2014, Camp Ripley partnership had huge success with the LSOHC Little Nokasippi WMA project. The partnership enrolled 2,371.5 acres into conservation easements, increased public access to the WMA by 262 acres, and buffered the WMA from future development. This project will utilize lessons learned from the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 LSOHC grants and will complement the MN DNR Gull River WMA.
Currently, the partnership has over 40 landowners signed up ready to participate in the program with a total of 285 landowners on a waiting list.