DNR Aquatic Habitat - Phase V
$5,250,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire interests in land in fee for aquatic management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 14, and 97C.02, and to restore and enhance aquatic habitat. A list of proposed land acquisitions and restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Increased availability and improved condition of riparian forests and other habitat corridors.Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species.Improved aquatic habitat indicators.Improved aquatic habitat indicators.Protected, restored, and enhanced aspen parklands and riparian areas.A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need.Improved aquatic habitat indicators.Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species.High priority riparian lands, forestlands, and savannas are protected from parcelization and fragmentation.Rivers, streams, and surrounding vegetation provide corridors of habitat.Stream to bluff habitat restoration and enhancement will keep water on the land to slow runoff and degradation of aquatic habitat.Improved aquatic habitat indicators.Improved condition of habitat on public lands.
We will use a programmatic approach to achieve prioritized aquatic habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement for lakes, trout streams, and rivers across all LSOHC planning regions of Minnesota.
Minnesota’s aquatic habitats have been degraded or threatened by a century or more of land, hydrology, and human settlement related alterations. The consequences to aquatic species have been reduced habitats for essential life history stages, lack of access to traditional spawning areas, and fragmentation of formerly continuous habitat that served as corridors to facilitate seasonal movements.
Geographically, aquatic habitats are in various states of quality and experiencing differing levels of environmental stress with a general pattern of healthy habitats under low stress in the northeast and less healthy habitats under high stress in the southern and western portions of the state. But even within this generalized pattern there are many notable exceptions – some aquatic habitats are exhibiting declining quality from local environmental stress in the otherwise low stress landscape of the northeast, while some moderate to high quality aquatic habitats still persist within the high environmental stress landscape to the west and south. Against this backdrop, DNR has a diverse infrastructure of habitat programs that provide a meaningful framework for delivering habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement throughout the state.
This proposal uses a programmatic approach to achieve prioritized aquatic habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement for lakes, trout streams, and rivers across Minnesota. We propose to: i) protect over 17.2 miles (973 acres) of shoreline on lakes, rivers and trout streams; ii) restore and enhance river and stream functions through in-channel reconstruction and fish barrier removal that will benefit over 100 river miles; iii) enhance 150 acres of Mississippi River backwater, wetland, and floodplain habitat by removing accumulated sediments and restoring depth; iv) enhance woody habitat along 0.2 miles of shoreline on two lakes; and v) enhance over 1,000 acres of riparian habitat on Aquatic Management Areas. The strategic approach and priority resources targeted in this proposal are supported by a number of internal and external conservation planning documents. The DNR will implement the objectives of this proposal through established and highly successful programs each having strong stakeholder support including: Aquatic Management Area Program, Stream Habitat Program, Shoreland Habitat Restoration Program, and Coldwater Streams Program.
Acquisition of priority habitats provides permanent protection backed by state and federal laws. The AMA designation unit within the Outdoor Recreation System was established by the Legislature in 1992 and has strong support from conservation groups and anglers. The AMA Program currently has an inventory of more than 830 miles of shoreline in over 330 AMAs, which provide permanent protection of critical riparian habitats, perpetuate fish and wildlife populations, safeguard water quality, and offer public recreational access opportunities as an important additional benefit. With the proposed level of funding, we will acquire priority parcels from our AMA project list.
Channel restoration, dam modification, and shoreline enhancement work is based on proven methods and DNR experience with multiple projects. The DNR has worked on large-scale river and stream restoration projects since 1998 and has completed or assisted in design elements of over 100 stream projects addressing restoration, fish passage, dam removal and dam modification to rapids. Providing fish passage over in-stream barriers such as low-head dams reconnects fish and other aquatic species to upstream habitats essential for spawning, juvenile life stages, and overall abundance and genetic diversity. Stream restoration projects reconstruct the stream’s natural pattern, profile, and dimension and address the key components of a stream: wildlife and fish habitat, water quality, connectivity to the floodplain and upstream reaches, and hydrology. By drawing on accumulated scientific knowledge, DNR strives to deliver the best possible restoration and enhancement projects using the best available science. With the proposed level of funding, we will restore the top three projects on our stream restoration priority list.
With the proposed level of funding in this request, we will:
* conduct a phase-2 expansion of a Mississippi River backwater habitat enhancement project, which will provide immediate and measurable benefits to fish and fishing;
* enhance upland and riparian habitat on 32 AMA units, which will improve vegetative cover and habitat complexity;
* install shoreline woody habitat complexes on two lakes where this habitat type has been greatly reduced by a century of logging and lakeshore development;
* enhance fish passage around existing barriers at 4 project sites, which will restore access to historic spawning areas and reconnect fish to their historic range;
* improve stream habitat condition along 8 project sites, which will stabilize stream banks and increase in-stream habitat complexity; and
* enhance spawning area and juvenile fish habitat at two river project sites where these habitat features have been determined to be limiting natural recruitment of fish species.
In addition, we propose to hire temporary lands management crews to conduct habitat condition and management needs assessments for DNR lands focused initially on developing manage plans for 100 AMA units. Land crews will provide some site development capacity (fencing, signage) and habitat restoration implementation, but will focus primarily on identifying habitat improvement needs on our AMA units and develop project proposals for future funding requests.
Finally, with the proposed level of funding in this request, we will hire temporary project management personnel to provide project oversight of major DNR stream restoration projects, work with partners to identify priority project locations and opportunities, and assist partners with early project design and permitting.
Accomplishments to date from prior appropriations include: 17 miles (1100 acres) of priority riparian habitat protected; 1 fish passage barrier removed; 4.5 miles of trout stream corridor enhanced. Many additional protection, restoration, and enhancement projects are in various stages nearing completion.