MeCC V - Grants for Restoration, Acquisition, Easements, and Other Conservation Tools (2.6/3.4/4.1)
$3,375,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for the fifth appropriation for acceleration of agency programs and cooperative agreements. Of this appropriation, $2,185,000 is for Department of Natural Resources agency programs and $1,190,000 is for agreements as follows: $380,000 with the Trust for Public Land; $90,000 with Friends of the Mississippi River; $155,000 with Great River Greening; $250,000 with Minnesota Land Trust; $225,000 with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.; and $90,000 with Friends of the Minnesota Valley for the purposes of planning, restoring, and protecting important natural areas in the metropolitan area, as defined under Minnesota Statutes, section 473.121, subdivision 2, and portions of the surrounding counties, through grants, contracted services, technical assistance, conservation easements, and fee title acquisition. Land acquired with this appropriation must be sufficiently improved to meet at least minimum management standards as determined by the commissioner of natural resources. Expenditures are limited to the identified project corridor areas as defined in the work program. 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".
Project Outcome and Results
The DNR Metro Greenways Program has worked since its inception in 1998 toward the goals of protecting, restoring, and reconnecting remaining natural areas in the Twin Cities greater (12-county) metropolitan region. The principal strategies employed by the Program to achieve these goals included: 1) competitive grants to local and regional governments to restore degraded habitats; 2) competitive grants that support the acquisition of or conservation easements on strategically important parcels of terrestrial, wetland, or riparian habitat; 3) incentive grants to local governments to address other conservation needs such as land cover inventories, natural resource based land use decision tools, and ordinance revisions to support conservation efforts; and 4) natural resource based workshops on topics of interest to local government staff and officials.
The 2009 appropriation concludes DNR Central region's Metro Greenways Program, which is sun setting after 13 years. This final allotment of $1,175,000 was used to fund a total of 21 projects and to develop and offer six new natural resource-based workshops. Combined, the restoration and protection projects conserved an additional 375 total acres in the 12-county greater metropolitan region, almost meeting Metro Greenways' combined target of 385 acres of lands restored and protected:
- Five restoration grants totaling $90,000 were awarded to three counties and one city. In combination with other funds, a total of approximately 255 acres of city, county, and regional park lands were restored to native vegetation, primarily prairie and savanna. The newly restored acreage was over two times more than targeted for this result (120 acres).
- Six protection projects were awarded a total of $650,000. Only three projects totaling $370,000 were initiated and completed (Lindstrom, Grannis, and Niebur), resulting in the protection of just 120 acres of the 325 acre projected target for Metro Greenways. The city of Lindstrom acquired a new 64 acre Allemansratt "wilderness" park that will give residents the chance to explore its several clear lakes and deciduous hardwood forest. Two grants to Dakota County added a total of 56 acres under conservation easements to its green infrastructure network being created by the Farmland and Natural Areas Program. Unfortunately, a $200,000 grant to Anoka Conservation District did not materialize and a $10,000 grant awarded to Chanhassen was turned down. These funds were put toward other projects. A Washington County project fell through very late in the biennium, leaving an $80,000 balance for this result category.
- Metro Greenways' Community Conservation Assistance Program awarded 13 grants to cities, counties and special districts that supported a variety of locally-specific conservation needs: a) to obtain land cover and urban tree canopy (UTC) inventories; b) to develop natural resource-based land use decision models; c) to create interjurisdictional partnerships to protect high quality natural areas; and d) to write new or revise existing ordinances to protect natural resources. In addition to these grants, the Program organized and facilitated two annual events (Rendez-Vous) that brought all DNR Community Assistance grantees (2008 and 2009 appropriations) together for full days of information-sharing and peer-to-peer learning. The DNR also convened the three cities undertaking urban tree canopy (UTC) inventories, along with the University of Minnesota forestry and extension service, U.S. Forestry Service, and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, to hear about each city's findings and proposed applications of UTC data.
This third result area also funded the development and offering of six new natural resource-based workshops in 2010/2011 for local government staff and appointed officials. These workshops were offered in the metro area and were promoted by Government Training Services to its clientele (local government commissioners). Almost 325 local government staff and officials (62% from cities; 14% counties; 10% townships; and14% special districts and others) attended these workshops on shoreland conservation, stormwater management, and the incorporation of natural resources into land use planning and engineering design. The workshops all received excellent evaluations from attendees.
Project Results Use and Dissemination
Press releases were sent to local newspapers where projects were funded. The DNR convened all of the Community Conservation Assistance (CCA) project managers in November of 2009 and in February 2011 to share the findings of their conservation work. CCA Project Profiles were drafted and posted on the DNR website. Protection and restoration project information is available through the Metro Conservation Corridor partnership map created for public use. The CCA deliverables will be tried and tested as part of the Results Outcomes effort by the State of Minnesota.