DNR Grassland Phase VI
$1,530,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to accelerate the restoration and enhancement of prairie communities in wildlife management areas, scientific and natural areas, aquatic management areas, state forest land, and land under native prairie bank easements. A list of proposed land restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - Grassland monitoring project by DNR Fish and Wildlife and Ecological and Water Resources, waterfowl and farmland wildlife surveys.Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - Remnant prairie protection is the primary goal of the Prairie Plan and will be monitored yearly..A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - The relative location of, and habitat enhancement success on public land in the Metropolitan Urbanizing region will be reported upon completion..Remnant bluff prairies will be enhanced and expanded through the elimination of competing woody invasive species. EWR staff will monitor the progress of enhancement contracts. .Improved condition of habitat on public lands - FAW and EWR restoration and enhancement project completion reports prepared annually.Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - Habitat enhancement projects in the threatened Prairie region of the state will provide added species diversity and added structural diversity to benefit multiple grassland plant and animal species. .
Restoration and Enhancement of Prairie on WMA’s, SNA’s, AMA's and Native Prairie Banks in Minnesota.
Restoration and Enhancement of Bluff Prairies on State Forest Land in Southeast Minnesota.
Minnesota's Wildlife Management Area system, started in 1951, has over 60 years of support . Over 1.3 million acres of habitat in over 1,400 WMAs are protected by the DNR. Restoration and enhancement of habitat on WMA's are core management principles. These networks provide diverse year-round food and cover for local wildlife, as well as resources for migratory wildlife. The Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan stresses strategic habitat complexes that provide multiple benefits including water quality improvements, seed sources and local economic diversity.
Minnesota's Aquatic Management Area system was instigated in 1992. Over 800 miles of important shoreline fish and wildlife habitat have been protected, restored and enhanced. This proposal includes an additional 2000 acres of grassland enhancement projects on AMA's
Minnesota's Scientific and Natural Area program, created by the 1969 Minnesota Legislature, currently a practices being applied with this proposal have been proven to provide desired outcomes on existing state managed lands. Through this funding, the state will be able to accelerate restoration and enhancement habitat improvements on state land and lands protected by permanent easement thereby providing for improved critical wildlife habitat and a more functional prairie landscape. Habitat improvement actions enhance existing degraded habitat to directly increase the productivity of nesting habitat for pheasants, waterfowl and a variety of non-game grassland species such as meadowlarks, longspurs, Species of Greatest Conservation Need and a suite of critical pollinator species.
Although Minnesota DNR has the training and know-how to restore high quality prairie vegetation current funding has been insufficient to meet all needs. Many sites on state lands are currently not being actively managed to full potential. Furthermore exotic and/or invasive plants are encroaching into them. Woody cover encroachment is an especially troublesome problem. Enhancement and restoration of prairie requires periodic disturbance such as prescribed burning, conservation grazing, haying, inter-seeding grasslands with native species, and up to five years post-seeding management. Newly acquired areas and state-owned marginal croplands also need to be seeded and treated. Harvesting and using high quality seed from established prairie sites to plant at other locations has proven to be highly cost-effective.
WMA Habitat Work (2370 acres over 4 years) – Total $489,500
Grassland restoration and enhancement work will be through techniques such as brush and tree removal, bareground seeding, grassland conversion, chemical treatment, mowing, inter-seeding, conservation grazing and burning. Seed will be obtained via harvesting of local native or restored prairie when possible and purchase of seed from vendors when necessary (following Operational Order 124). DNR will contract much of this work. Seed mixes used for prairie restoration and enhancement will be adequately diverse to provide pollinator habitat throughout the growing season. All other work will be done using Best Management Practices to ensure pollinator habitat consistent with MN Statute 84.973. This portion of the plan contains $24,000 for 4.7 miles of perimeter fence facilitating conservation grazing enhancements to Wildlife Management Areas in Big Stone and Swift Counties.
AMA Habitat Work (1040 acres over 4 Years)-Total $138,900
Grassland enhancement will be through techniques such as grassland conversion, interseeding, chemical
treatment, mowing and invasives control. As above, seed source and diversity will be via DNR Operational Order
124 and will address MN Statute 84.973.
Ecological and Water Resources Habitat Work (approximately 3875 acres over 4 years) – Total $901,600
Restoration of prairie will occur on 15 acres of severely altered lands by reconstructing native plant communities. These restorations are either in-holdings within a native prairie, or lands surrounding a native prairie. Seed will be collected from native prairies adjacent to the restorations or purchased from vendors with local seed sources. Seed mixes will be adequately diverse to provide pollinator habitat throughout the growing season. These restorations will expand existing prairie habitat and buffer native prairies from the impacts of adjacent land uses. Funding requested for restoration projects will cover all costs and activities associated with reconstructing a prairie including project design, seedbed preparation, seed harvest, seed installation, and first year weed control. Prairie enhancement activities will be implemented on 3875 acres of existing SNA's, State Forest Land and Prairie Bank Easement sites. Funding requested for enhancement projects will cover all project costs and activities including project design, contract administration, staff time, equipment and supplies. These enhancement activities will focus on native prairies, but may include some restored prairies within the project sites. Many of these native prairie sites harbor rare and unique features, or are located on steep terrain, which require low impact management techniques (e.g. hand cutting of woody encroachment). These specialized prairie management techniques, and the skilled crews that implement them, can incur higher costs than similar lower diversity grassland projects.
Restoration and enhancement practices will be designed and administered by DNR staff, while implementation will use a combination of DNR staff and contracted services. There is a backlog of management needs on DNR administered lands and implementation of restoration and enhancement can begin immediately upon receipt of funds. Restoration and enhancement projects would be completed by the end of FY 18.