DNR Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement
Good habitat is critical to sustaining quality fish populations in both lakes and rivers. DNR proposes to restore or enhance aquatic habitat under two programs: stream restoration, and Aquatic Management Area (AMA) enhancement. Stream restoration includes major channel restorations and fish passage projects such as dam removals intended to improve or provide access to critical aquatic habitats. AMA enhancement will improve habitat on shorelines and their associated uplands, providing critical spawning habitat for fish, and riparian habitat critical for many species of amphibians, turtles, and birds.
Projects planned through this appropriation fall into two categories: stream restoration, and Aquatic Management Area enhancement. Through these programs, DNR will complete habitat projects on both lakes and rivers for the benefit of fish and other aquatic species.MN DNR is a national leader in stream restoration, having innovated and refined restoration techniques of the past 30+ years. An example is the removal or modification of dams on the Red River to allow fish passage, which has resulted in native fish (e.g., channel catfish and walleye) returning or increasing in reaches upstream of former barriers. Projects in our plan are prioritized based on factors such as the scale of benefiting waters, local support, rare species, and project urgency. Quite often dam removal/modification projects are done on old dams in need of repair. If removal/modification funds are not available, it is possible that partners may seek funds elsewhere to repair or replace the dam, which represents a potential missed opportunity to address fish passage. Our prioritized list includes submissions from several partners including watershed districts, local governments, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). Partners are often able to handle local logistics and provide some in-kind or financial match. In this accomplishment plan we have included 12 stream restoration projects, which includes 5 channel restorations and 7 fish passage projects. This plan also continues support of a position previously funded LSOHF that coordinates stream restoration projects, providing surveying, design, permitting, and contracting support to enable DNR to complete these additional projects. The amount of funding recommended by the Lessard Council is not sufficient to complete all of the projects on our parcel table. We will select projects based on our prioritized list (included in attachments), completing our top projects as funding allows. We currently expect to complete the North Fork Zumbro River and Miller Creek channel restorations, and the Shell River fish passage project. If we are successful in securing additional funds from other grants, we may be able to complete additional projects. All stream projects will utilize Natural Channel Design methods in order to create long-lasting projects with appropriate habitat.DNR owns almost 1,400 AMA parcels totaling over 34,000 acres of lake and river shoreline and associated uplands. These parcels encompass critical habitat for fish, turtles, frogs, and birds that depend on shoreline habitat. Quality habitat often requires ongoing maintenance such as invasive plant removal, prescribed burns, and planting of native species. The DNR's Section of Fisheries manages AMAs but has limited capacity and expertise to manage these lands. This proposal requests continued funding for positions previously funded by LSOHF who are tasked with designing, contracting, and overseeing AMA enhancement work. Also included are project dollars that will be used to enhance 265 acres of AMA habitat.
$2,834,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources to restore and enhance
aquatic habitat in degraded streams and aquatic
management areas and to facilitate fish passage. A
list of proposed land restorations and
enhancements must be provided as part of the
required accomplishment plan.
Improved aquatic habitat indicators - Fisheries monitoring programs through the DNR and PCA are designed to assess the relative health of aquatic systems through the use of tools such as indices of biotic integrity (IBI), the MN Stream Habitat Assessment, and Score-Your-Shore. These can all be used to assess tour success in achieving outcomes for these projects..Rivers and streams provide corridors of habitat including intact areas of forest cover in the east and large wetland/upland complexes in the west - All restoration and enhancement projects on rivers include restoration of the riparian area into native vegetation. We will monitor the success of plant establishment and conduct maintenance as needed during the 2-3 year establishment period to insure that sites are part of a healthy riparian corridor..A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - Our work in the metro region will involve enhancement on AMA parcels. These lands are located in complexes of habitat, with corridors of riparian habitat connecting larger blocks of land in native vegetation. We will monitor enhancement projects to insure that they are successful in their goals of creating quality habitat based on the mix of native plant species present as compared to pre-project..Rivers, streams, and surrounding vegetation provide corridors of habitat - All restoration and enhancement projects on rivers include restoration of the riparian area into native vegetation. We will monitor the success of plant establishment and conduct maintenance as needed during the 2-3 year establishment period to insure that sites are part of a healthy riparian corridor..Improved condition of habitat on public lands - Our AMA enhancement program will monitor all projects to insure that outcome goals are being met by looking at the diversity and abundance of native plant species that are supported by project sites as compared to pre-project. .