HCP VI - Shoreland Protection Project - Conservation Easements (3a)
$3,375,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for the sixth appropriation for acceleration of agency programs and cooperative agreements. Of this appropriation, $770,000 is for the Department of Natural Resources agency programs and $2,605,000 is for agreements as follows: $450,000 with Pheasants Forever; $50,000 with Minnesota Deer Hunters Association; $895,000 with Ducks Unlimited, Inc.; $85,000 with National Wild Turkey Federation; $365,000 with the Nature Conservancy; $210,000 with Minnesota Land Trust; $350,000 with the Trust for Public Land; $100,000 with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.; $50,000 with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; and $50,000 with Friends of Detroit Lakes Watershed Management District to plan, restore, and acquire fragmented landscape corridors that connect areas of quality habitat to sustain fish, wildlife, and plants. The United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service is a cooperating partner in the appropriation. Expenditures are limited to the project corridor areas as defined in the work program. Land acquired with this appropriation must be sufficiently improved to meet at least minimum habitat and facility management standards as determined by the commissioner of natural resources. This appropriation may not be used for the purchase of residential structures, unless expressly approved in the work program. All conservation easements must be perpetual and have a natural resource management plan. Any land acquired in fee title by the commissioner of natural resources with money from this appropriation must be designated as an outdoor recreation unit under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.07. The commissioner may similarly designate any lands acquired in less than fee title. A list of proposed restorations and fee title and easement acquisitions must be provided as part of the required work program. All funding for conservation easements must include a long-term stewardship plan and funding for monitoring and enforcing the agreement. To the maximum extent practical, consistent with contractual easement or fee acquisition obligations, the recipients shall utilize staff resources to identify future projects and shall maximize the implementation of biodiverse, quality restoration projects in the project proposal into the first half of the 2010 fiscal year.
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Overall Project Outcome and Results
In the sixth phase of our Shorelands Protection project, the Minnesota Land Trust continued to work with landowners to secure permanent conservation easements on quality habitat along or containing critical riparian lands. We initiated or continued contact with more than 50 landowners and completed five conservation easements. Collectively, these easements preserve 566 acres of land (508 acres-ENRTF; 58 acres-other funds)- exceeding our original goal of 300 to 500 acres - and protect nearly 17,000 feet of fragile shoreline. Two of the five easements completed involved significant bargain purchases, while the other three projects were donated easements:
- Rabbit Lake in Aitkin County: 171 acres (all acres-ENRTF) containing forest, wetland, grassland, and hay field being restored to prairie.
- Blackhoof River in Carlton County: 248 acres (all acres-ENRTF) containing a mix of forest, wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands.
- Encampment River in Lake County: 88 acres (40 acres-ENRTF; 48 acres-other funds) containing a mature conifer forest with black ash lowlands and wetlands along the Encampment River.
- Blacklock Nature Sanctuary along Lake Superior in Lake County: 11 acres (1 acre-ENRTF; 10 acres-other funds) containing forest and cobblestone beach along Lake Superior.
- Lake Elysian in Waseca County: 48 acres (all acres-ENRTF) containing oak savanna and big woods.
All five projects met the following selection criteria:
- Habitat: quality and quantity of existing habitat on site; protects riparian areas and buffers water resources
- Context: proximity and relationship to other protected lands
- Opportunity cost-benefit ratio: which landowners will participate now
- Other Benefits: meeting multiple objectives, including visual and physical access, forestry goals, water quality, etc.
Additionally, the Land Trust prepared baseline property reports for each easement, detailing the condition of the property for future monitoring and enforcement. To fund this required perpetual obligation, the Land Trust dedicated funds to its segregated Stewardship and Enforcement Fund for several completed projects. For these projects, we estimated the anticipated annual expenses of each project and the investment needed to generate annual income sufficient to cover these expenses in perpetuity - all in accordance with our internal policies and procedures as approved by LCCMR. We will report to LCCMR annually on the status of the Stewardship and Enforcement Fund and the easements acquired with funds from this grant.
The value is known for only one of the easements. The donated value of this easement is $515,000. The cost to the State of Minnesota to complete the five projects completed under this phase of the grant was just over $370 per acre.
Cumulatively, across all phases of the HCP program, the Land Trust has protected 7,461 acres of critical habitat and more than 218,000 feet of shoreline, at a cost to the State of $283 per acre.
The Land Trust's work on this project continues to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of working with conservation easements to protect natural and scenic resources along Minnesota's lakes, rivers, and streams, as the cost to the State was well below the cost to purchase land along our increasingly threatened shorelines. This grant continued to generate interest among landowners, and therefore, ongoing funding will be important to sustained success. Additionally, our experiences during this phase of the grant indicate that funds to purchase easements will be necessary in the future as work becomes more targeted, selective, and focused on building complexes of protected land.
Project Results Use and Dissemination
The Land Trust disseminated information about the specific land protection projects completed under this grant though our newsletter, email updates, web site, and press releases. The Land Trust also shared information about conservation easements generally and our experience with our partner organizations, other easement holders, local communities, as well as policy makers including members of the LCCMR and L-SOHC.