Metro Big Rivers Habitat, Phase 2
$5,000,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements to acquire interests in land in fee or permanent conservation easements and to restore and enhance natural systems associated with the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix Rivers as follows: $960,000 to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.; $150,000 to Great River Greening; $840,000 to Minnesota Land Trust; $150,000 to Friends of the Mississippi River; and $2,900,000 to The Trust for Public Land. A list of proposed projects, describing types and locations of acquisitions, restorations, and enhancements, must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. The accomplishment plan must include an easement monitoring and enforcement plan. Money appropriated from the outdoor heritage fund for easement acquisition may be used to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to subdivision 15. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund.
Restore 15 acres, Protect in Fee 776, Protect in Easement 654 acres and and Enhance 178 acres in total 1,623 acres were impacted.
FMR, landowner, local, state and federal, donated easeemnt, private donations
With this final report, Metro Big Rivers Phase 2 is complete and significantly exceeded its original acreage targets of protecting, restoring and enhancing priority wildlife habitat within the three big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area. Specifically:
* Metro Big Rivers 2 planned to protect 733 acres, but actually protected 1,430 acres.
* Metro Big Rivers 2 planned to restore 15 acres and enhance 135 acres, but actually restored 15 acres and enhanced 178 acres.
Accomplishment Plan: http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/FY2012/accomp_plan/5d.pdf
Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) completed the project by restoring 8 acres of prairie, enhancing 8 acres of prairie, restoring 7 acres of wet meadow and enhancing 101 acres of forest, exceeding our goals for the project. The details for the 2 sites follow:
• Gores WMA: FMR completed this project and met the project goals by restoring an 8-acre grassland to native prairie; enhancing a 3-acre restored prairie by conducting invasive species control; restoring a 7-acre grassland to native wet meadow species by controlling reed canary grass; and enhancing 90- acres of floodplain and upland forest by removing exotic invasive woody plants. The prairie restoration included seeding 11 native grass species and 35 native forbs, focused on species important for pollinators. Annual breeding bird surveys at the forested area showed significant increases in the number of species and the number of birds between 2010 and 2015. Annual breeding bird surveys showed substantial increases in the number of species recorded at restored/enhanced areas, with ten species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) noted.
• Rosemount Wildlife Preserve: FMR completed enhancement activities on 5 acres of prairie and 11 acres of forest through treatment of exotic invasive species and prescribed burns.
Annual breeding bird surveys at the forested area showed significant increases in the number of species and the number of birds between 2010 and 2015.
Great River Greening (GRG) exceeded its original grant acres target 7-fold. GRG conducted enhancement activities on 69 acres (10 acres were originally proposed), as follows:
• Crosby Park: 52 acres of habitat were enhanced through woody invasive species eradication within floodplain forest and installation of practices to address erosion impacting Crosby Lake. The project is complete and exceeds the proposed acreage goals.
• Seminary Fen SNA: Supplemental funding from this grant was used to complete the full spectrum of enhancement activities at Seminary Fen SNA initiated under the Metro Big Rivers Phase 1 grant. Invasive species management was conducted across 1 acre of the fen through prescribed fire. The project is complete.
• Savage Fen SNA: Supplemental funding from this grant was used to complete the full spectrum of enhancement activities at Seminary Fen SNA initiated under the Metro Big Rivers Phase 1 grant. Invasive species management was conducted across 1 acre of the fen through prescribed fire. The project is complete.
• Fish Creek Open Space: Forest enhancement work was completed through the removal invasive woody species over 10 acres of a grassland portion of the forest mosaic. We have released oaks, and removed planted pines and overabundant box elder. The project – as funded through this grant – is complete, but additional activity funded through MBR Phase 3 continues at this site.
• Springbrook Nature Center: Extensive woody invasive species control and forest thinning was completed across 5 acres of oak woodland and savanna habitat at the site. The project is – as funded through this grant – is complete, but additional activity funded through MBR Phase 3 continues at this site.
Additional matching funds leveraged for the project includes gifts from the 3M Foundation, Xcel Foundation, Brookfield Renewable, and Buuck Family Foundation.
Minnesota Land Trust (MLT) exceeded its target acres significantly. The original target was 300 acres, but MLT was able to complete three easements on 654 acres with the grant, thanks to significant donations of value by landowners. MLT also protected a total of approximately 10,999 linear feet of shoreline along rivers, lakes and ponds.
The following easements were completed with the MBR 2 grant:
• The 80-acre Sherburne Hardwoods (Anderson) tract, located in Becker Township in Sherburne County, is adjacent to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and is in an area designated as a state Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. The property consists of approximately 48 acres of deciduous forest, 30 acres of grassland, and 2 acres of wetland. The landowner is currently in the process of restoring the grasslands and the wetlands on the property. The forest, wetland, and grassland habitats contained within the property provide habitat for a variety of species in greatest conservation need, including bald eagle, American woodcock, and whip-poor-will.
• 26 acres at the confluence of the Mississippi and Elk Rivers with 2,591 feet of shoreline along the Elk River and 493 feet of shoreline along the Mississippi River, a state Wild and Scenic River and state water trail.
• 548 acres of forest, wetlands, grasslands and open water on Stickney Lake in Sherburne County, approximately 3 miles northwest of Clear Lake, Minnesota. This easement includes approximately 2,400 feet of shoreline on Stickney Lake (a shallow lake) and approximately 5,515 feet of shoreline on unnamed ponds. These natural features provide key habitats for a variety of Species in Greatest Conservation Need, including the northern pintail and the sharp-tailed grouse.
Minnesota Valley Trust (MVT) completed fee title acquisition on 444 acres of priority habitat for the Blakely Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Of the 444 acres, 384 acres were acquired with the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant through Metro Big Rivers Phase 2. The other 60 acres were acquired with other, non-state funds.
Trust for Public Land (TPL) completed fee title acquisition of 335 acres of land with over a mile of Mississippi River shoreline at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers on December 16, 2014. This acquisition was completed with the balance of TPL’s Phase 2 grant and part of its Phase 3 grant. The land provides habitat for a variety of species and the shoreline affords access to an excellent smallmouth bass fishery. The property was conveyed to the City of Elk River to be managed in a manner similar to a state Wildlife Management Area. Public hunting and fishing will be allowed according to DNR guidelines.
TPL also completed fee title acquisition on 128 acres of the Blakely Bluffs area for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Of the 128 acres, 123 were acquired with the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant through Metro Big Rivers Phase 2. The other 5 acres were acquired with other DNR funds.