Camp Ripley Partnership, Phase IV
This phase protected, under easement, 946 acres (130% of the goal of 720 acres) of high quality habitat a for fish, game, and wildlife.
The purpose of this initiative was to protect fish, migratory birds, big game, and oak habitat along the Crow Wing, Gull, Nokasippi, and Mississippi Rivers via conservation easements. These river corridors are very vulnerable to habitat degradation due to the potential for development. The Camp Ripley military training center is located immediately adjacent to the confluence of the Crow Wing and Mississippi Rivers. Camp Ripley contains 19 miles of Mississippi River frontage and 8 miles of Crow Wing River frontage that provide habitat for many species including 45 Species of Greatest Conservation Need. This project built upon past Camp Ripley partnership success with the Army Compatible Use Buffer program (ACUB). This federal program provided funds to protect adjacent lands from encroaching development and in the process protects the training center, water quality and wildlife habitat. Fifteen easements were secured totaling 946 acres which was 130% over our gaol of 720 acres. The largest easement was 278 acres with two others that were approximately 100 acres. The average easement size was 63 acres. These parcels are primarily forested with some wetlands. As of this writing the ACUB program has protected over 25,000 acres through conservation easements and fee title including 204 RIM easements totaling over 22,000 acres. In 2014 alone BWSR leveraged $1,000,000 in National Guard Bureau and Department of Army ACUB funds for easement acquisition. As of this writing, during the life of the ACUB program, over $33,000,000 from National Guard Bureau and Department of Army funds have been directed to BWSR for easement acquisition.
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. Red-shouldered Hawks are forest dependent species and the parcels protected in this grant help to ensure that a viable population remains in the Camp Ripley area. Likewise, wolves in Minnesota, are primarily forest species and need rather large areas to maintain pack integrity and reduce competition with neighboring packs and humans. Again, these parcels help to protect this species.
This project utilized Camp Ripley’s partnerships with the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR),The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to solicit applications and to score and rank applications. The partnership uses a variety of methods to generate landowner interest and solicit applications including; mailings, open houses, direct contact with landowners and special Camp Ripley events. Applications are sorted into agricultural easements (Non-OHF) and riparian and forested lands easements (OHF). They are then scored and ranked against a GIS based system that ranks parcels based upon a number of factors including habitat quality and proximity to Camp Ripley. Applications are then funded in priority order from appropriate funding sources until all funds are used up. The application process is continuous and there is generally a considerable backlog of interested landowners at any specific point in time. Once a funding decision has been made Morrison SWCD and BWSR work together to accomplish the standard RIM easement acquisition process and the easement becomes part of the RIM portfolio.
$1,200,000 in 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 within the boundaries of the Minnesota National Guard Compatible Use Buffer to protect forest wildlife habitat. Up to $45,000 is for establishing 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 - Establishing easements and buffering WMAs will sustain large tracts of green space/forested land. Easements are targeted towards high value forested lands..
Increased availability and improved condition of riparian forests and other habitat corridors - Currently we target parcels adjacent to one another to create habitat corridors consistent with natural resource management..
Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Currently Camp Ripley has 65 species of greatest conservation need. This program helps protect 53,000 acre state game refuge. (Camp).
Greater public access for wildlife and outdoors-related recreation - Two of the project areas are buffering WMAs on the Gull/ Nokasippi Rivers ensuring the WMAs continue to function allowing public access..
Water is kept on the land - Lands under easement do not allow additional drainage and allows us to enhance the properties with conservation practices to improve land management..
Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - Camp Ripley lies along 18 miles of the Mississippi, and 8 miles along the Crow Wing River which are critical habitat for waterfowl and SGCN..
A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need.