Forest Habitat Protection Revolving Account
$1,000,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire lands in fee and permanent conservation easements for wildlife habitat purposes, for forest consolidation and connective corridor purposes, or to prevent forest fragmentation under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 7. Proceeds from any subsequent sale of lands acquired with this appropriation must be used for the purposes of this appropriation. Any sale proceeds remaining unused upon close of the appropriation availability must be returned to the outdoor heritage fund. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. Unless otherwise provided, this appropriation is available until June 30, 2022. For acquisition of real property, this appropriation is available until June 30, 2023, if a binding agreement with a landowner or purchase agreement is entered into by June 30, 2022, and closed no later than June 30, 2023. Of this amount, up to $50,000 is to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report.
Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation - Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation. This project will permanently protect approximately 379 acres of private forestland with conservation easements that will prevent fragmentation and conversion of forestlands and protect habitat from destructive uses..A forest land base that contributes to the habitat picture.
This proposal would acquire forest lands of significant natural resource and strategic location values and then resell those same lands previously acquired with this grant, subject to a Conservation Easement. Process would be repeated with land sale proceeds.
Discussion of the Problem: There are many privately owned, forested parcels across the state that contain important habitat and other conservation values that make them desirable for either fee or conservation easement protection. Their value as conservation lands are many: These lands provide: 1) Access to state lands for resource management and for the recreating public; 2) Critical habitat for species of concern; 3) Connecting corridors between habitat blocks; 4) Key in holdings in larger blocks of forestland; or 5) Productive working forest that support local timber jobs. For some parcels, full fee ownership may be the most desirable option but for others, an easement interest may be sufficient to address our conservation goals and generally result in more efficient, cost-effective protection for selected parcels. These parcels may become available for sale by the owners who may only consider a sale in fee, but not an easement sale. In those cases, we either have to buy in fee or pass on the parcel.
This proposal is an attempt to expand the toolbox for those parcels where fee sales are the only option. Under this proposal the state would:
1. Identify lands of interest and interested sellers. Year 1 and ongoing. Several potential parcels of interest have been identified in the parcel list. Other parcels will be considered for the final selection.
2. Acquire the forest land in fee. Years 1-4. Up to 16 parcels will be targeted.
3. Develop the conservation easement appropriate to the parcel. Years 1-5.
4. Resell the lands subject to the conservation easement. Years 2-5. Estimated cost to sell parcels is approximately $13,600/parcel.
5. Dedicate funds for conservation stewardship. Years 2-5.
6. Repeat the process with the sale proceeds as time allows or return the remaining funds. Years 2-5. We estimate that parcels will resell for between 40-60% of initial purchase price depending on final easement terms.
Easements secured under this program would be perpetual and would be drafted to protect the essential habitat, access, and other conservation values of the individual tracts. Forests would be protected from conversion to non-forest uses. Depending on the site, limited public assess through the property to other public lands may be secured, but for most parcels public access for hunting and fishing would not be provided. The conservation easement would limit those developments and activities that negatively impact habitat values and would require forest stewardship plans that guide the landowners' use of the property. Hunting camps and possibly cabins, appropriately located, may be allowed to encourage those traditional forest uses such as hunting and fishing.
Outcomes for this project include: 1. Increased management access and public access to public lands; 2. Habitat protection; 3. Connectivity of habitats and the prevention of forest fragmentation; 4. Stewardship planning provides opportunities to involve private landowners in habitat protection; 5. Lands remain in private ownership and provide local property taxes; 6. Encourages traditional forest uses.