DNR WMA and SNA Acquisition - Phase VII
Acquire 910 acres of high priority habitats for designation as Wildlife Management Areas or Scientific & Natural Areas emphasizing Prairie Conservation Plan implementation and coordinating with partners. All lands will be open for public hunting, fishing and trapping.
This proposal will protect 910 acres of wildlife habitat through fee title acquisition and development as Wildlife Management Areas (610 acres) and Scientific & Natural Areas (300 acres). Lands will be acquired and developed within the Prairie, Northern Forest, and Forest/Prairie Transition Planning Sections with an emphasis on Prairie Conservation Plan core and corridor areas, working toward the long-term goal of a minimum of 40% grassland and 20% wetland in core prairie areas. Lands outside core and corridor areas will be evaluated on their habitat potential and contribution to existing units. Seventy-eight percent of proposed dollars are targeted at the Prairie planning section.
Historically, Outdoor Heritage appropriations for WMA and SNA acquisition have been matched by donations, Reinvest in Minnesota and Surcharge (a $6.50 surcharge on small game license sales to be used in part for land acquisition) at approximately 25% (1 dollar of match to 4 dollars of OHF). There are two pending ENRTF M. L. 2015 requests: the WMA program is seeking $530,000 for one acquisition in Dakota County and the SNA program is seeking $6,315,700 for acquisition, restoration, enhancement and public engagement. The SNA program received $2,540,000 in ENRTF funds on July 1, 2014.
Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) WMAs are established to protect those lands and waters which have a high potential for wildlife production and to develop and manage these lands and waters for public hunting, fishing and trapping, and for other compatible outdoor recreational uses. While highly successful, the current WMA system does not meet all of the present and future needs for wildlife habitat, wildlife population management, hunter access and wildlife related recreation. This is notably true in the Prairie Ecological Planning section where public ownership in some counties is less than 2 percent. DNR Section of Wildlife uses a geospatial analytical (GIS) based tool to identify the highest priority tracts for potential WMA acquisitions. This approach uses a quantitative or database approach to score and rank acquisition proposals based on a set of weighted criteria and creates a standardized method for evaluating proposed acquisitions on a statewide level. Criteria and weights are annually reviewed and adapted to changing conditions and priorities. This ensures that funds are used to acquire available lands consistent with the statutory purpose of WMAs. The WMA acquisition program is guided by the 2002 Citizens’ Committee report. This committee was composed of a diverse group of eleven major stakeholder groups.
A list of potential acquisition opportunities from willing sellers is coordinated with interested stakeholders and partners to eliminate duplication and identify concerns or support. To date, LSOHC funds have paid for more than 10,500 acres of WMA. Coordinating with partners has been successful to ensure we are working cooperatively and on priority parcels.
Scientific & Natural Areas (SNAs) The SNA Program will increase public hunting and fishing opportunities while protecting sites with outstanding natural resource value. About 300 acres will be acquired in fee by the DNR and designated as SNA in order to provide public access and protect sites of biodiversity significance. Protection will be targeted at high priority areas identified in the SNA Strategic Land Protection Plan with emphasis on prairie core areas identified in the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan. A quantitative system is used to score and rank acquisition proposals at a statewide level based on a weighted set of six criteria. Priority is given to sites of high and outstanding biodiversity significance, sites recommended for protection by the Minnesota Biological Survey, high quality native plant communities and habitat for rare species. Parcels which are larger, adjoin other conservation lands, improve habitat management, are under imminent threat and that are partially donated are also rated higher.
Properties acquired through this appropriation require approval of the County Board of Commissioners in the county of acquisition, will be designated as WMA or SNA through a Commissioner's Designation Order, brought up to minimum DNR standards, and listed on the DNR website. Basic site improvements will include boundary and LSOHC acknowledgement signs and may include any necessary site cleanup and restoration of agricultural fields and minimal parking area development.
There are no specific plans to plant corn or other crops as part of this Outdoor Heritage Accomplishment Plan. The parcels will become part of the State WMA or SNA system. The primary purposes of WMAs are to develop and manage for the production of wildlife, for public hunting, fishing, and trapping, and for other compatible outdoor recreational uses. To fulfill those goals, DNR Wildlife may use limited farming, including Cooperative Farming Agreements, specifically to enhance or benefit the management of state lands for wildlife and plant species. Farming may be utilized to prepare previously farmed sites for native plant seeding (e.g. utilizing soybeans to allow any remaining agricultural chemical residue to dissipate and to create a good soil seedbed). It also may be utilized to provide a winter food source (such as corn) for a variety of wildlife species in agriculture-dominated landscapes largely devoid of winter food sources. Those food plots are used to enhance overwinter survival of wildlife or in some cases to help mitigate wildlife damage to property owners and they are also popular public hunting locations. DNR Wildlife currently uses farming as a wildlife management tool on less than 2.5% of the total WMA land base.
$4,570,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire land in fee for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8, and to acquire land in fee for scientific and natural area purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 5. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules, part 6136.0900, priority must be given to acquisition of lands that are eligible for the native prairie bank under Minnesota Statutes, section 84.96, or lands adjacent to protected native prairie. A list of proposed land and permanent conservation easement acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation - Acres of forested lands acquired..Protected, restored, and enhanced aspen parklands and riparian areas - Acres of native plant community acquired..Key core parcels are protected for fish, game and other wildlife - Acres of protected lands acquired, acres acquired in Prairie Conservation Plan Core/Corridor/Complex areas, acres of native prairie acquire..
Wildlife Surcharge, Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match Program, Landowner donations, Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match Program