DNR Aquatic Habitat Program, Phase 4
$3,480,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire interests in land in fee or permanent conservation easements for aquatic management areas under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 14, and 97C.02, and to restore and enhance aquatic habitat. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. The accomplishment plan must include an easement stewardship plan. Up to $25,000 is for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund and a description of annual monitoring and enforcement activities.
Restored 66 acres, protected in fee 58 acres and protected in easement 93 acres of habitat
Mix of cash and in-kind time from Olmsted County, City of Orononco, and Dam Safety bonding money contributed towards the Zumbro River project, Landowner donation, RIM, Game and Fish Fund, and Fish and Wildlife Acquisition Account.
We used 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.
This appropriation funded a mixture of restoration, enhancement, and protection of aquatic habitat by the DNR. We were successful in completing our proposed projects, and in meeting may of the goals included in our accomplishment plan. The different projects accomplished from this appropriation are summarized below.Habitat protection was accomplished using a mixture of fee title and easement acquisition. For easements we purchased 11 parcels on trout streams located on either the North Shore or in southeast Minnesota. Easements will protect 5.3 miles of stream and 94 acres of habitat. Fee title acquisition protected 5 parcels of lakeshore, including one parcel that was purchased with funds from both ML2011 and ML2012 funding. Acreage and shoreline feet protected have been pro-rated between appropriations based in their respective contribution to the purchase price. A total of 2.6 miles of shoreline and 58 acres of habitat are protected by these parcels. The amount of habitat protected in easement and fee title falls short of our proposed outcomes for this appropriation. Because land values vary across the state it is difficult to anticipate how much habitat can be protected for a given amount of money. It is also hard to anticipate the amount of landowner donation we will receive. We were successful in leveraging an additional $1.3 million toward protection work from a mixture of sources, including landowner donation.The Mille Lacs Lake shoreland enhancement involved the removal of breakwall from a former marina that is now a DNR Aquatic Management Area. Breakwall was removed along 455 feet of shore and returned to a natural shoreline, with native riparian vegetation planted in all areas. This habitat will benefit fish species using the nearshore area of the lake as well as other wildlife such as birds, reptiles and amphibians that use a mixture of nearshore and riparian habitat.The Kingsbury Creek stream restoration project removed masonry walls that had been built along the banks through that reach and were limiting habitat. The project also included constructed a new stream channel through a reach that had previously been impounded by a dam. The stream channel was resized to appropriate dimensions, and habitat structures such as toe wood, rootwads, and cross vanes were installed. The project will benefit resident brook trout as well as steelhead that spawn and rear juveniles in Kingsbury Creek.A fish passage project at Shell Lake converted a dam into an arch-rapids, allowing fish to migrate in and out of the lake freely. Fish passage is especially important at Shell Lake, which is subject to occasional partial winter-kills. Recolonization from the Shell River will help the lake to recover from these events. This project was added to our original accomplishment plan and completed using surplus funds realized due to cost savings from other projects.A second stream habitat enhancement project was done using surplus funds. This one was located on the Pomme de Terre River, where a riffle and adjoining streambank was enhanced to provide better habitat in a former reservoir where the dam had been removed several years previous.Backwater habitat on the Mississippi River within Weaver Bottoms was enhanced to create critical backwater habitat that had been lost due to decades of sedimentation. The deepwater habitat is critical for many fish species such as bluegill and black crappie that over-winter there. The nine acres of newly enhanced habitat has shown high use by Mississippi River fish, and anglers have taken notice and are using the area as well.This appropriation funded a portion (along with the DNR's ML2013 Aquatic Habitat) of the restoration of the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River through a former impoundment known as Lake Shady. The dam had washed out in a 2011 flood, leaving behind an eroding mud flat that threatened to harm downstream reaches as it eroded, and contained poor habitat in the channels that had cut through the mud. The former dam site's grade was stabilized by creating a rapids of stable rock material, and within the former reservoir new stream channels with appropriate dimensions were constructed. Habitat in the new channels was restored to include woody material as well as rocky riffles. Re-vegetation of the surrounding reservoir sediments with native plant species will provide quality riparian and upland habitat as well. The project was completed in partnership with Olmsted County ($125,736), the city of Oronco ($83,824) and DNR Dam Safety bonding funds ($1,000,000) all contributing funding. An additional $236,540 of in-kind staff time was contributed by Olmsted County. In addition to the 147 acres of habitat restored, the project opened up access to 119 miles of stream.Stream habitat work for this appropriation and other LSOH-funded projects from other appropriations was aided by funding for a stream restoration coordinator and intern. These positions aided in survey work, design, permitting, contracting, and coordination with project partners on these complex projects. The coordinator also worked on assessing other potential projects for future LSOHC proposals.