Metro Big Rivers Phase 11

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2022 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
MVNW Refuge Trust Inc; FMR; GRG; MLT; TPL
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
In Progress
Start Date
July 2021
End Date
June 2025
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Metro Big Rivers Phase 11 will protect 185 acres in fee title and 222 acres in permanent conservation easement, restore 49 acres and enhance 187 acres of priority habitat in the big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area (643 acres total). The partnership will leverage the OHF grants at least 19% with partner funds, private funds, local government contributions, and landowner donations of easement value. Significant volunteer engagement will be invested in habitat enhancement activities. Metro Big Rivers projects will benefit wildlife and species in greatest need of conservation (SGCN) and provide increased public access for wildlife-based recreation.

About the Issue

Metro Big Rivers Phase 11 will protect, restore and enhance prioritized wildlife habitat in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area, with an emphasis on the Mississippi, Minnesota and St.Croix Rivers and their tributaries. By expanding, connecting and improving public conservation lands, Metro Big Rivers benefits wildlife and species in greatest need of conservation (SGCN) and provides increased public access for wildlife-based recreation. See brief descriptions below and attachments for detail.

**Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) will restore 10 acres and enhance 70 acres at two sites. Projects include removal of invasive woody and herbaceous plants, planting climate-adapted shrub and tree species, seeding with diverse native species mixes, establishment mowing, spot-spraying, and prescribed burns.
- Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area: Enhance 30 acres of degraded floodplain forest, 20 acres of oak woodland and 2 acres of prairie.
- Vermillion River Aquatic Management Area, Kamen Parcel: Restore 10 acres prairie, enhance 7 acres degraded riparian habitat on a trout stream and 11 acres lowland habitat.

**Great River Greening (GRG) will restore 16 acres and enhance 117 acres across 8 sites. Projects will include removal of invasive woody and herbaceous species, mowing, spot spraying, seeding and planting.
- Creekside Park: Restore riparian habitat along 3/4 mile of Carver Creek.
- Valley Park Phase II: Enhance oak woodland habitat.
- Garlough & Marthaler Parks: Enhance oak savanna.
- Bassett Creek Park: Restore turf to native prairie.
- Bass Lake Preserve: Enhance riparian forest around Bass Lake.
- Hidden Falls Regional Park: Enhance floodplain forest habitat.
- Spring Lake Park (Scott County): Enhance oak forest habitat.
- Wind in the Pines Nature Preserve: Enhance forest habitat along the St. Croix River.

**Minnesota Land Trust (MLT) will protect through perpetual conservation easement 222 acres of priority habitat, including riparian lands, forests, wetlands and grasslands. Projects will be selected through a competitive process that ranks proposals based on ecological significance and cost (criteria attached).

MLT will restore/enhance 23 acres on lands protected through permanent conservation easement. Prioritized properties will be of high ecological significance, adjacent or close to public conservation investments and owned by landowners committed to conservation.

**Minnesota Valley Trust (MVT) will protect in fee 135 acres of river frontage, floodplain forest, wetland and upland habitat in the Minnesota River Valley to expand the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. All prospective lands have been prioritized by the USFWS and will be restored/enhanced, then open to the public for wildlife-based recreation, including hunting and fishing.

**The Trust for Public Land (TPL) will protect in fee 50 acres of priority wildlife habitat, including riparian, forest, wetland and grassland habitat. Potential properties are prioritized in state, regional, and local natural resource plans. Lands will be managed by public partners (DNR and/or local units of government) and open to the public for wildlife-based recreation, including hunting and fishing.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2021, First Sp. Session, Ch. 1, Art. 1, Sec. 2, subd. 5(b)
Appropriation Language

$4,229,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements to acquire land in fee and permanent conservation easements and to restore and enhance natural habitat systems associated with the Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix Rivers and their tributaries in the metropolitan area as follows: $675,000 to Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.; $220,000 to Friends of the Mississippi River; $684,000 to Great River Greening; $800,000 to The Trust for Public Land; and $1,850,000 to Minnesota Land Trust, of which up to $192,000 to Minnesota Land Trust is to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of proposed land acquisitions and permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.

2022 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - Partners work together to identify priority lands using existing data and public plans, then coordinate protection, restoration and enhancement activities in those priority areas. Work builds upon prior phases and is intended to continue into the future for maximum impact. Mapping shows progress in connecting corridors. Species collections and counts measure impact of activities over time on wildlife and Species in Greatest Conservation Need

Source of Additional Funds

Carver, Crystal, Great River Greening, MN DNR, MN DNR, Macalester College, Volunteers, MN Valley Trust, Private, Private landowners, RIM and Private

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
MN Valley Trust (Metro Big Rivers)
Street Address
3815 East American Boulevard
Zip Code
(612) 801-1935
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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