Martin County/Fox Lake DNR WMA Acquisition
$1,000,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Fox Lake Conservation League, Inc. to acquire land in fee and restore strategic prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat for wildlife management area purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. A list of proposed acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - The increased numbers of each species using the habitat and the increased number of species found using the project areas will be used to measure the success of the project. The increased number of local source plant species providing a continuous bloom period from the first Pasque flowers in spring to the final blossoms of the gentians and asters as the killing frost ends the season, providing habitat and food for pollinators as well as food base to provide the diversity needed to support many unique species can be evaluated for improved value and increased use..
The Lorenz parcel, highest priority within the core habitat area Caron WMA, was selected to expand enhancement, restoration and acquisition activities. Local source native plant materials will be incorporated in the restoration of prairie, wetland and riparian habitats.
This project is designed to work through the local "Martin County Conservation Alliance," several conservation clubs and their agency partners working together to protect, enhance and restore existing and new lands for wildlife habitat. Alliance partners have coordinated with DNR, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others to prioritize project sites and make sure potential projects are not double listed. The Fox Lake Conservation League has partnered on several projects in the past to restore, enhance and protect hundreds of acres in Martin County and the surrounding area. Several DNR Conservation Partners Legacy Grant projects have been completed, with some still underway. Resource professionals will develop seeding plans and wetland restoration plans to meet the project goals of species diversity. Species of greatest conservation need, listed species, at-risk species and other rare plants and organisms including pollinators will receive the greatest consideration as plans are developed to protect and restore habitat under this proposal. Protection of native habitats and expanding those habitats using seed sources on the parcels and within a few miles will be high priority for the habitat restoration work. Planting the right species in the appropriate positions on the landscape will help with the restoration of habitat that will provide maximum habitat value for the species currently using the existing habitat and those species we will add or attract to the expanded habitat base. Wetland restoration work will be planned and sequenced to minimize impacts to existing habitats, while maximizing the long term habitat benefits. Removal of invasive species and keeping invasive species from becoming established are an important part of the project. Protecting and restoring a diverse range of habitat types and maximizing on the number of species incorporated into each habitat type will help provide resistance to invasion by unwanted non-native species, and will provide the kind of habitat that will attract new species of insects and other organisms that will serve as a food base for several additional species expected to utilize this habitat. Martin SWCD, under a permit through MN DNR, is currently working to establish listed species on more suitable acres in the county. Sullivant's milkweed, Tuberous Indian plantain and Eared false foxglove should find new homes within the newly restored acres under this proposal. Martin SWCD is currently working on habitat improvement within the Perch Creek WMA, which holds the largest known Blanding's Turtle population in Martin County. Martin SWCD will be a partner in the development of a long range plan to maintain the habitat restored under this proposal. Currently the SWCD offers a Brillion seeder, Truax no-till drill and a Vicon seeder mounted on an ATV help restore habitats. A tractor mounted Bush Hog mower removes trees up to and sometimes over 4" diameter, plus an ATV mounted sprayer helps to maintain habitat plantings from invasive species. Native plant species and more importantly balances of the maximum number of local ecotype native species available will be selected to provide a balanced bloom period throughout the growing season to maximize benefits to pollinators while supplying a balanced natural food source for the indigenous species of wildlife that need those native spceies to survive and thrive on an expended more diverse landscape.