Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex - Phase VI

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Trust for Public Land
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
End Date
March 2022
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Counties Affected
Le Sueur
Le Sueur
Project Overview

Protect and restore approximately 80 acres in and near the Cannon River watershed, including wetlands, prairies, Big Woods forest, and river and shallow lake shoreline to reverse habitat loss, improve watershed function and provide access.

Project Details

The Cannon River Headwaters Habitat Complex Phase VI program acquired 69 acres of high-quality wetland,
prairie, remnant Big Woods forest, and shoreline habitat for fish, game and wildlife in the Cannon River Watershed.
The protection and creation/expansion of two large complexes (Gray Fox WMA and Murphy WMA) provides new
opportunities for public hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation.
The Cannon River Headwaters Habitat Complex Phase VI program was designed to address the following
problems: degradation and loss of quality and diversity of habitat in the prairie section of the State, degradation of
water quality in the Cannon River Watershed; and lack of available public lands for hunting and angling
opportunities, especially within an hour's drive for over half of the state's population.
The Phase VI program is a part of a multi-year conservation effort, focusing on the Cannon River Watershed, that
includes acquisition, protection, and restoration of core parcels of land that will contribute to a large complex of
restored prairies, grasslands, wetlands, lakeshore, and river shoreline. The Phase VI acquisitions were prioritized
toward protecting existing large wetland/upland complexes and rare communities (Big Woods forest, oak savanna,
tamarack swamp). In addition, landowner willingness to sell and the threat of conversion were also taken into
consideration. Protection of these lands provides critical habitat for game species, including migratory waterfowl
(mallards, canvasback, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, pintails, lesser scaup), upland birds (dove, turkey,
pheasant, and woodcock), white tail deer, and fish (northern pike, black crappies, bluegills, bullheads and walleye).
Protection will also provide access for a diversity of recreational experiences including duck, pheasant, turkey and
deer hunting, lake fishing, and wildlife observation. In addition, restoration work conducted by the MN DNR has
been focused on the degraded portions of the lands acquired and has included restoration of agricultural fields
near wetlands and lakes back to native habitat.
Specifically, two acquisitions were completed with Phase VI funding:
1. Gray Fox WMA - Rice County:
The Trust for Public Land acquired the Gray Fox WMA property on October 19, 2018 and conveyed the 78 acre
property to the DNR on April 23, 2019 to be managed as a new Wildlife Management Area. This property has
rolling topography of wetland and grassland habitat located in the upper reaches of the Cannon River Watershed
just west of Shields Lake (the headwaters of the Cannon River). It has great scenic views and natural beauty, and it
will provide much needed public access for dispersed wildlife-based recreation including hiking, hunting, trapping,
bird-watching, and general nature observation. The Trust for Public Land purchased this property for a total of
$406,000 using $69,021 of the Cannon River Phase VI acquisition funds (ML2016 OHF; allocated acreage 13), and
also $336,979 from Cannon River Phase V (ML2015 OHF; allocated acreage 65).
2. Murphy WMA Addition - Le Sueur County:
The Trust for Public Land acquired and conveyed 72 acres to the MN DNR on August 16, 2019 to be managed as an
addition to the Murphy Wildlife Management Area. Located directly on the Cannon River just north of Waterville,
this acquisition connects the two units of Murphy WMA, squares up boundaries, and provides improved public
access for quality outdoor recreation and hunting opportunities within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities. The Trust
for Public Land purchased this property for a total of $375,000 using $292,407 in funds from Cannon River
Headwaters Habitat Phase VI (ML 2016 OHF; allocated acreage 56), and also $82,593 from Cannon River
Headwaters Habitat Phase VII (ML 2017 OHF; allocated acreage 16).

Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2016, Ch. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 2(e )
Appropriation Language

$583,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with The Trust for Public Land to acquire land in fee and restore lands in the Cannon River watershed for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules, part 6136.0900, priority must be given to acquisition of lands that are eligible for the native prairie bank under Minnesota Statutes, section 84.96, or lands adjacent to protected native prairie. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)



Measurable Outcome(s)

27 Wetland acres, 23 Prairie acres, 19 Forest acres (total of 69 acres) Protected in Fee with State PILT Liability.

Source of Additional Funds

Various state, local and private funds, Private

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
The Trust for Public Land
Street Address
2610 University Ave. #300
St. Paul
Zip Code
(651) 999-5307
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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