DNR Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement, Phase 2
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) will complete a fish passage project on the Otter Tail River to reconnect eight miles of stream habitat and 96 acres of lake habitat for fish and other aquatic life. We will also restore four miles of stream habitat on a previously straightened portion of Stony Creek. Stream projects were selected from a statewide list, prioritized by factors such as ecological benefit, scale of impact, urgency of completion, and local support. On Aquatic Management Areas, MNDNR will enhance over 900 acres of riparian and terrestrial habitat.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) annually updates a statewide list of stream habitat projects. Submittals come both from MNDNR staff and from partner organizations. Projects are prioritized based on scale-of-impact, urgency, local support, and critical habitat for rare species. Based on this list, MNDNR and our partners originally proposed three fish passage projects and four channel restorations. Based on allocated funds, we plan to complete our two highest priority projects in need of funding. These projects are modifying the dam on the Otter Tail River at Phelps Mill to allow fish passage, and restoring the stream channel on Stony Creek. Projects will benefit fish such as walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike present in these rivers, as well as five mussel species classified as threatened or special concern. If cost savings or other circumstances allow, we will use available funds for our next highest achievable project on the priority list.The modification of the Phelps Mill Dam was previously funded by the Outdoor Heritage in the ML2016 appropriation. However, the dam owner (Otter Tail County) is now willing to adopt our preferred option of a full modification of the dam rather than the previous option of a partial fishway. The bigger project will make for better fish passage, and will create additional spawning habitat within the created rapids. However, the cost of such a project is higher. An additional $800,000 from this appropriation will be used to complete the project, allowing us to take full advantage of a $300,000 US Fish and Wildlife Service grant. The project will create access to eight miles of upstream habitat, and 96 acres of lake habitat. We will not claim those acres as outputs, but instead will claim only 1 acre of direct habitat created.Stony Brook was straightened over four miles prior to the 1930s to facilitate drainage. We will partner with the Buffalo/Red River Watershed District to restore this reach back into a meandering stream, providing diverse habitats for fish and other aquatic species. The restored stream will be protected within Reinvest In Minnesota easements with surrounding landowners. Easements will be funded by the Bureau of Soil and Water Resources.We propose to enhance over 900 acres of riparian habitat and associated uplands on 70 Aquatic Management Areas (AMA), costing approximately $450,000. The DNR manages these lands to protect critical shoreline habitat used by fish spawning, waterfowl, wading birds, reptiles and amphibians. Uplands in these parcels provide a buffer to protect water quality, and habitat for more terrestrial species. Our enhancement work includes shoreline plantings, invasive species control, and prescribed burns. Projects are selected based on management guidance documents that have been written for each AMA.
$3,208,000 the first 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 - For the Sucker River and Fredenberg Creek projects, we will evaluate instream habitat as well as brook trout populations to assess success..Protected, restored, and enhanced aspen parklands and riparian areas - Our AMA work will enhance riparian areas in this region. Will will assess the amount of native plant cover and the control of invasive plant species as measures of our success..Improved aquatic habitat indicators - Our AMA work will enhance riparian areas in this region. Will will assess the amount of native plant cover and the control of invasive plant species as measures of our success..Rivers, streams, and surrounding vegetation provide corridors of habitat - We will evaluate instream and riparian habitat measures to evaluate the success of the North Branch Whitewater River restoration..Two stream channel restorations in this region will improve in-channel and riparian habitat. We will use metrics that evaluate instream and floodplain habitat to assess our success..
US Fish and Wildlife Service and Buffalo/Red River Watershed District