Enhanced Public Land ? Grasslands - Phase IV
6289 acres of grassland and wetland habitat will be enhanced through this proposal to increase the productivity of game and non-game upland species on Minnesota lands open to public hunting including Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA), and National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). We will accomplish this by working with our partners to follow best practices to conduct wetland restorations, conservation grazing, invasive tree removal, prescribed fire, and diversity seeding in the prairie, forest/prairie transition, and metro regions.
According to the MN Prairie Conservation Plan, less than 2% of Minnesota's native prairie remains. Many of the remaining acres of native and restored prairie are degraded from lack of fire, low diversity and spread of invasive trees. There are wetlands in these landscapes that need be to restored and many previously restored basins that are in need of repair. This proposal aims to build on past investments to increase productivity on WPAs, WMAs, and NWRs that are open to hunting so they can reach their full potential for wildlife production.
Activities could include the following:
1) Wetlands will be restored/enhanced by removing drain tile, constructing/repairing earthen dams and/or water control structures, and invasive narrow leaf cattail control. Wetlands targeted for enhancement are vital to providing food, cover, and space required for breeding waterfowl and are essential to water quality and aquifer recharge.
2) A diverse mixture of native grasses and forbs is ideal for nesting and brood rearing of upland nesting birds and also essential for pollinator species. Many WMAs, WPAs, or NWRs were purchased in sub-optimal habitat condition (e.g. monotype of brome grass) or were restored using low diversity seed mixes that are less productive for wildlife. We will use a site-specific combination of techniques (e.g. cultivation, tree removal, herbicide, and prescribed fire) to bring back productivity to these public lands. In close collaboration with the land managers, we will seed a diverse mix of native grasses and forbs that are well adapted to site conditions. Mowing will be used as needed to manage annual weed pressure to ensure establishment.
3) Prescribed burning is the primary tool for managing grassland habitat. It increases vigor, sets back invasive woody species, and removes built up residue.
4) Conservation grazing is an important enhancement tool for sites that are difficult to conduct prescribed fires or need to target specific enhancement needs (e.g. cool season grass suppression, tree invasion, etc.). Permanent infrastructure with a lifespan of 30+ years will be installed to conduct conservation grazing plans written to benefit wildlife.
5) Research has shown that invasive trees are detrimental to prairie/grassland wildlife and will be removed with this proposal. These trees reduce nesting success and provide perches and dens for predators. These predators are highly effective at predating both nests and nesting birds, especially in fragmented low quality habitat.
By creating the best possible habitat on WPAs, NWRs and WMAs, we will strive to help our public land management entities by reducing future investments for management.
A RFP and ranking process has been developed in previous phases that allow us to identify, rank and deliver the projects that have the most impact for grassland and wetland wildlife.
$2,280,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever to enhance and restore grassland and wetland habitat on public lands. A list of proposed land restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Increased waterfowl and upland bird migratory and breeding success - 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
Federal, Private and PF