DNR Grassland Enhancement Ph X
$4,007,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources to accelerate restoration and
enhancement of prairies, grasslands, and savannas
in wildlife management areas, in scientific and
natural areas, on lands in the native prairie
bank, in bluff prairies on state forest land in
southeastern Minnesota, and in waterfowl
production areas and refuge lands of the United
States Fish and Wildlife Service. A list of
proposed land restorations and enhancements must
be provided as part of the required
Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Monitoring will take place with the base level monitoring conducted by DNR staff and staff from other agencies/NGOs. This includes surveys such as pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, and woodcock, which are all dependent on open areas. .Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - This proposal will be primarily focused on enhancing grasslands. Migratory game and non-game birds will be some of the primary beneficiaries of this work. We are working with the University of Minnesota to incorporate graduate students into research and monitoring work. .Core areas protected with highly biologically diverse wetlands and plant communities, including native prairie, Big Woods, and oak savanna - Monitoring will take place with the base level monitoring conducted by DNR staff and staff from other agencies/NGOs..Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Monitoring will primarily be done through studies conducted by the DNR's Ecological and Water Resources Division of key indicator species such as timber rattlesnakes..Restored and enhanced upland habitats - The multi-agency/NGO Grassland Monitoring Team (GMT) has developed standardized protocols for sampling grassland vegetation and a number of the sites on this request will be sampled over the 5 year period. .
This programmatic request will build on the DNR’s previous efforts to enhance and restore grasslands, prairies, and savannas. We will use the Prairie Conservation Plan and Pheasant Summit Action Plan to guide these efforts in a strategic and targeted manner. This proposal will work on a number of types of permanently protected habitats, most of which are open to public hunting, including; DNR WMAs, SNAs, AMAs, Prairie Bank Easements, State Forests, as well as USFWS WPAs and Refuges.
Almost by definition, the prairie is a disturbance-dependent habitat or ecosystem. The diversity and productivity of grasslands is structured by three factors; fire, periodic grazing, and weather extremes especially periodic droughts. While we have no direct control over short-term weather patterns, one of the primary goals of enhancement / management work is replicating the historic fire and grazing patterns that maintained the diversity and productivity of the prairies. In recent years, Minnesota has lost large amounts of grasslands. CRP acres are down 770,000 acres since their peak in 2007. We continue to lose native prairie to the plow, housing development, and gravel quarry. Because of these losses of grassland and wetland habitat across western Minnesota, it is that much more important that the public grasslands in this region are as productive as possible for wildlife and pollinators. This programmatic request seeks funding to enhance grassland habitat on permanently protected grasslands and prairies, most of which are open to public hunting. Without periodic management to simulate historical disturbance patterns, grassland become less diverse and less productive. Invasive species may increase and woody vegetation will encroach into the grasslands, changing their very character and the species that inhabit the area. The activities listed in this proposal will use BMPs for grassland enhancement and diverse local ecotype seed mixes for restoration. In earlier grassland appropriations from the DNR and partners, there was some confusion on Initial Development Plans (IDP) for newly acquired WMAs and that initial development wasn’t completed. This proposal requests funded under the first budget item to complete this backlog. More recent protection appropriations have included full IDP in the proposal. Contract work for prescribed fire, woody species removal, invasive species control, grassland restoration, and other enhancement efforts. Requests includes a contract coordinator.WMA Habitat Enhancement and restoration (7,400 acres) over five years – $1,876,500This request seeks to enhance grassland habitat by continuing funding a DNR Region 4 (Southern) Roving Crew. DNR Region 4 Roving Crews (13,000) acres over 3 yrs - $1,440,000This request will restore and enhance native prairies on SNAs and Prairie Bank easements as described above for WMAs.SNA/PB Enhancement and restoration (700 acres) – $690,500