Little Nokasippi River Wildlife Management Area
$843,000 in fiscal year 2011 is to the commissioner of natural resources for acceleration of agency programs and cooperative agreements to acquire interests in land within the boundaries of the Minnesota National Guard Army compatible use buffer(ACUB) program. Of this appropriation, $225,000 is for the Department of Natural Resources to acquire land for wildlife management areas and $618,000 is for an agreement with the Board of Water and Soil Resources to acquire permanent conservation easements. A list of proposed acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
This program expanded the Little Nokasippi WMA by 147 acres for public outdoor recreation (e.g. hunting, fishing, etc.) and also protected the viability of the WMA into perpetuity through 973 acres of permanent conservation easements. $723,800 of OHF funding leveraged $934,980 of federal National Guard Bureau funding.
This project focused on the Little Nokassippi River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which was established in 2006. It complements the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program and enjoys support from Crow Wing County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The WMA is situated within a very critical area of the Camp Ripley ACUB. Similar to military installations, WMAs across the state are impacted negatively by the pressures of development on their boundaries resulting in alterations to their intended land use. WMAs such as the newly established Little Nokasippi River WMA were established for the benefit of public recreation and when restrictions are imposed due to conflicting land use the public use is degraded. This project has ensured compatible land use into perpetuity.
The affects of population encroachment have been felt by military installations across the country. The most common solution has been restrictions placed on units training, which degrades training realism. Since encroachment has not yet become a serious issue on the periphery of Camp Ripley, Soldiers have not been limited in the field in terms of meeting their training objectives. However, this could change quickly particularly in the vicinity of the Little Nokasippi river WMA which is located within a noteworthy growth corridor. According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center the population within the corridor is projected to have a 27% growth rate within the next 30 years. Acquiring the interest in lands around Camp Ripley including the Little Nokasippi River WMA curbs growth within this corridor and thereby ensure unrestricted training for Soldiers far into the future.
The project has been implemented in accordance with formal Cooperative Agreements between the DNR, BWSR and National Guard Bureau (NGB). The agreements formalize the methodology and strategy for implementing the ACUB program for which the Little Nokasippi River WMA and this LSOHC project is a part of. All land parcels acquired under the agreement are located within the three-mile buffer area surround Camp Ripley. Furthermore, the parcels have been secured in accordance with the prioritization process presented in this Camp Ripley ACUB project including, but not limited to, proximity to Camp Ripley, size of parcel(s), potential for development, land owner willingness, availability, and cost.
To ensure objectivity in parcel selection, a comprehensive database has been created to evaluate all land parcels lying within the 110,000 acre ACUB area which includes the Little Nokasippi River WMA. The data base is linked to criteria that are used to rank or score all candidate land parcels.
The initial decision to create the Little Nokasippi River WMA required the support of the Crow Wing County Board by resolution. This was accomplished unanimously and the expansion was also approved without hesitation.
4-23-2015 - All Fee Title documents have now been uploaded by DNR and the Final Report will now be submitted.
1-21-2015 - Corrective NOFRs have now been recorded and uploaded to the LSOHC database for each parcel. The Final Report is now being submitted.
Final Report 11/10/2014 -
14 easements were recorded on 973.1 acres utilizing $618,000 of OHF funding and $587,108 of Army National Guard Bureau (ACUB) funds. In addition 4 parcels were purchased by MN DNR, and added to the Little Nokasippi WMA, totaling 147 acres utilizing $105,750 of OHF funding and $$341,430 of ACUB funding. Unfortunately two fee title purchase agreements canceled and we were beyond the time period that would allow moving these funds to other parcels, therefore $119,250 of OHF funds will be returned.
The National Guard Bureau, County Governments, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, DNR, BWSR, and local landowners are all extremely satisfied with this project and we have been held up as a national model for both ACUB and wildlife habitat outcomes. The accomplishments of this project shows the success of a federal, state and local partnership working together with private landowners for multiple social and environmental outcomes.
One easement was split funded with ML10 and ML12 OHF ACUB funding. This last easement took longer to record than the other easements funded with this appropriation. If we had turned back the left over funding, instead of using it with a split funded easement, we could have completed a final report much sooner.
A few LSOHC Database reporting notes -
1. Numbers are automatically rounded after they are entered which causes challenges with tracking budgets and progress.
2. In the approved Accomplishment Plan all acres and dollars were planned to be conducted in the Forest-Prairie Transition Ecological Section. In the end only 29.6 acres was in the Forest-Prairie Transition Section and the remaining 943.5 acres are located in the Northern Forest Section (along with the corresponding funding). In the Final Report Output Tables we are unable to enter data into the Northern Forest Section.
3. Easements with this project were funded with OHF and ACUB funding sources. Total acres of easements are shown in the Output Tables and in the Parcel Data. The ACUB leveraged dollars are shown in the Budget Table but can not be shown in the Output Tables, since it will then shown more than the OHF appropriation.
4. Easement 49-01-13-04 was split funded between ML10 and ML12 OHF funded ACUB projects. Only the acres and dollars corresponding to the ML10 OHF funding have been reported in this report.
5. In the original Accomplishment Plan the same acres were reported as both under Protect and Habitats categories. Subsequent LSOHC staff guidance was given to only show easement accomplishments in the Protect line. Therefore the Output Table appears to show less acres than was originally planned but in fact more acres of easements were secured than was originally planned.