Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex - Phase VI
$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.
Key core parcels are protected for fish, game and other wildlife - Core parcels are identified in partnership with the DNR as well as the partners of the Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex. Success will be determined based on the acreage of lands protected, and the percentage of protected lands in the watershed..
Various state, local and private funds, Private
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.
The Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex Phase VI effort will prevent degradation and loss of quality and diversity of habitat in the prairie section of the State as well as degradation of water quality in the Cannon River watershed. In addition, it will increase the amount of available public lands for hunting and angling opportunities, especially within an easy drive for over half of the state’s population.
Located south of the Twin Cities metro in an area that has seen development pressure due to the I-35 corridor and the Cannon Lakes, much of this area has already suffered fragmentation and habitat loss. Historically inhabited by Big Woods, the landscape is now dominated by agricultural fields and, to a lesser extent, development. Agricultural practices and shoreline development are also the major contributors to the impaired status of stretches of the Cannon River and its associated lakes and streams.
This conservation effort is part of a multi-year effort 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 DNR’s Southern Region Conservation Focus Area assessment tool ranked the Cannon River area as having the highest level of inter-divisional conservation priority when examined at the landscape level.
Acquisitions are targeted toward existing large wetland/upland complexes, rare communities (Big Woods forest, tamarack swamp), shallow lakes, river shoreline, and lands adjacent to existing protected areas. There is an effort underway which involves several partners (including The Cannon River Watershed Partnership, The Nature Conservancy and MN DNR) for landscape planning in the Cannon River watershed. This effort may be able to help the Partnership further identify priority conservation opportunities and protection strategies for high biodiversity areas.
Protection and restoration of these significant parcels will provide critical habitat for game species, including migratory waterfowl (mallards, canvasback, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, pintails, and lesser scaup), upland birds (dove, turkey, pheasant, and woodcock), white tail deer, and fish (northern pike, black crappies, bluegills, and walleye). Protection will also provide access for a diversity of recreational experiences including duck, pheasant, turkey and deer hunting as well as river, stream, and lake fishing. Non-game wildlife, including species in Greatest Conservation Need, likely to benefit from this protection and restoration work includes Bald Eagle, Bell’s Vireo, Cerulean Warbler, Loggerhead Shrike, Sandhill Crane, Red-headed Woodpecker, Greater Yellowlegs, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Blanding’s Turtle, Mudpuppies, and the Giant Floater, a species of freshwater mussel.
Protecting and restoring vegetative cover within basins and the riparian areas of the lakes, rivers and streams in this focus area will also help protect water quality by reducing surface water runoff and by providing ecological services such as infiltration through natural buffers to our waterways. All wildlife, and humans, will benefit from improved water quality.
Work will be completed in phases depending on funding availability and landowner willingness to sell. Properties targeted for acquisition and restoration as part of this Phase VI request to LSOHC (FY17) includes the parcels listed in the Phase V request to LSOHC (FY16) and the following new parcels:
Caron Lake AMA - Tract 1 (Rice County)
These 80 acres of croplands, grasslands, and wetlands include lands riparian to the shallow Caron Lake and an unditched tributary, Devil’s Creek, which is rare in this area of the state. The property is adjacent to the Caron Lake Aquatic Management Area.
Horseshoe Lake AMA - Tracts 3, 4 and 5 (LeSueur County)
These parcels would be a valuable addition to the 160+ acres that are already protected and managed as AMAs. If these properties are acquired, roughly half of Horseshoe Lake would be protected from development and the habitat loss that accompanies it.
German Lake AMA - Tracts 1 and 2 (LeSueur County)
These 108 acres, with over a 1/4 mile of shoreline, are a high priority for fisheries in that they contain very high quality bulrush stands that are becoming rare in the Waterville Fisheries Area.