DNR WMA and SNA Acquisition, Phase VIII
$3,250,000 the second 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 acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Key core parcels are protected for fish, game and other wildlife - Acres of native prairie protected, acres of Prairie Core/Corridor areas protected.
Acquire 600 acres of high priority habitats for designation as Wildlife Management Area or Scientific and Natural Area emphasizing Prairie Conservation Plan implementation and coordinating with partners. All lands will be open for public hunting, fishing and trapping.
This proposal will protect approximately 600 acres of wildlife habitat through fee title acquisition and development as Wildlife Management Areas and/or Scientific & Natural Areas. Lands will be acquired and developed within the Prairie Planning Section with an emphasis on Prairie Conservation Plan core and corridor areas, working toward the long-term goal of a minimum 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.
Historically, Outdoor Heritage appropriations for WMA and SNA acquisitions have been matched by donations, Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match, 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).
Wildlife Management Areas. 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 such as wildlife watching and hiking. While highly successful, the current WMA system does not meet all of the present and future needs for wildlife habitat, wildlife populations 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 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 periodically 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. The committee was comprised 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 and support. Coordinating with partners has been successful to ensure we are working cooperatively and on priority parcels.
Scientific & Natural Areas. The SNA Program will increase public hunting and fishing opportunities while protecting sites with outstanding natural resource value. 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.