Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex - Phase VII
The Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex Phase VII program will protect in fee and restore approximately 220 acres of high priority wildlife habitat within and near the Cannon River Watershed, including wetlands, prairies, Big Woods forest, and river/shallow lake shoreline. Its goal is to reverse habitat loss, prevent degradation of water quality, improve watershed function, and provide public access.
The Cannon River Watershed Habitat Complex Phase VII program will prevent degradation and loss of quality habitat in the Prairie section of the State, specifically the Cannon River Watershed. In addition, it will increase the amount of available public lands for hunting and angling opportunities within an easy drive for over half of the State's population.Located south of the Twin Cities, the Cannon River Watershed has seen increased development pressure due to the I-35 corridor and the Cannon Lakes, and 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 the major contributors to the impaired status of stretches of the Cannon River and its associated lakes and streams. The DNR's Southern Region Conservation Focus Area assessment tool ranked the Cannon River area as having the highest level of interdivisional conservation priority when examined at the landscape level.This conservation effort is part of a multi-year strategy 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.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 is expected to help the partnership further identify priority conservation opportunities and protection strategies for high biodiversity areas.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 VII request to LSOHC (FY18) can be found in the parcel list below. With the transactions scheduled to close in June 2016, this program has created five new WMAs, and an addition to an existing WMA, in the Cannon River Watershed. This has resulted in 1,692 new acres of publicly accessible, permanently protected habitat.The Cannon River Headwaters Habitat Complex effort is supported by the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, the Dark House Anglers Southern Chapter, the Izaak Walton League Owatonna Chapter, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association South Central Prairieland Bucks Chapter (Le Sueur, Rice, Waseca, and Steele Counties), Minnesota Waterfowl Association – Scott-Le Sueur Chapter, Montgomery Sportsmen's Club, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever – Le Sueur County Chapter, the Tri-Lake Sports Club, Waterville Sportsman's Club, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
$1,436,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with The Trust for Public Land to acquire in fee and restore lands in the Cannon River watershed for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes 86A.05, subdivision 8. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules 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..