Enhanced Public Land Grasslands - Phase II
$1,120,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever to enhance and restore habitat on public lands. A list of proposed land restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the final report.
Improved condition of habitat on public lands. Outcomes will be measured by resource professionals and evaluated by using the best science available to land managers. .Improved condition of habitat on public lands - Outcomes will be measured by resource professionals and evaluated by using the best science available to land managers. .
This project will utilize a combination of wetland restoration, invasive tree removal, seeding, and prescribed fire, to improve habitat quality, diversity, and productivity on Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Production Areas within the prairie and metro regions of Minnesota.
Greater than 95% of Minnesota’s prairies have been lost to the plow and development. Many of the remaining acres of native and restored grasslands have been degraded from lack of fire and the spread of invasive trees. Many of these acres have low plant diversity and aren't reaching their potential for wildlife production.
Research from across the tallgrass prairie region has shown that trees are almost always detrimental to prairie/grassland wildlife, for several reasons. Tree branches provide perches for hawks, owls, crows, and magpies, while the bases of the trees provide dens for foxes, raccoons, skunks, all of which can prey on eggs or nesting hens.
Wetlands will be restored or enhanced by constructing low, earthen dams (some with water control structures) or removing drainage tiles.
Many public hunting areas were purchased as brome fields or were restored using low diversity seed mixes, often only grasses. At these sites, we will use a mix of cultivation, herbicide and prescribed fire to prep the site and plant with a high diversity native grasses and forbs.
Prescribed burning is the primary management tool for managing grassland habitat for waterfowl, gamebirds, and songbirds. This project will increase capabilities of DNR and USFWS to conduct prescribed fires on public lands, including DNR Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and USFWS Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA).
Each year woody vegetation and invasive species increase on our public hunting lands. Every year we delay management action, the problem becomes larger and the cost increases. The duration of the benefits of this program is ongoing. The goal of this program is to work towards having all WPAs and WMAs into a state where we no longer need mechanical or chemical treatments and high quality habitat can be sustained with maintenance burns.
We have developed an RFP process to solicit enhancement projects for lands open to public hunting owned and managed by the DNR and USFWS. PF board members, along with staff from these agencies will review and prioritize the projects. Priority will be given to any projects that are within a prairie plan core area.
Based on previous projects conducted on DNR and USFWS lands, we anticipate costs as below. The exact acreage and ratios of dollars spent on each category each year will vary depending on proposals.
Wetland Restoration - $1000/acre
Prescribed Fire – $3500/burn
Invasive Tree Removal –$1200/acre
Diversity Seeding/Brome Conversion – $400/acre