Minnesota Buffers for Wildlife and Water Phase 2
RIM Buffers Phase II combined the resource benefits of the Outdoor Heritage Fund (LSOHC), Clean Water Fund (CWF), and bond funds. This program enrolled a total of 1,336.7 acres of enhanced wildlife and water quality buffers in partnership with private landowners on 29 easements. With 1337 acres (all sources of funding) protected and restored in this phase, we exceeded the original goal of 400 acres of OHF funded buffers and 400 acres of CWF funded buffers. Bonding dollars were used to fund the remaining 537 acres.
The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council provided a recommendation to fund the first phase of RIM Buffers, which provided $2,249,000 and played a part in securing 1,595.4 acres of permanent protection. This second phase of RIM Buffers built upon the successes and momentum of that first phase, securing 1,336.7 acres of permanently established buffers that will continue to provide critical water quality improvements and improved nesting habitat.
This partnership program permanently added grassland habitat and reduced fragmentation by combining the efforts of the Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, and bonding to secure buffers adjacent to public waters. Building upon the 100-foot RIM buffers funded through the Clean Water Fund, we added an additional buffer width (up to NRCS 393 standard for CRP buffers) to make clean water buffers more attractive and productive for wildlife. This program contributed toward the development of new habitat complexes and enhancement of existing habitats by expanding the size of narrow corridors and connecting them to large, permanently protected grasslands, wetlands, and shallow lakes.
Furthermore, these wildlife buffers were targeted for landscapes with existing permanently protected habitat to accelerate progress toward achieving minimum thresholds of grass habitat required by waterfowl and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Many Species of Greatest Conservation Need benefit from large habitat patches and some require a minimum threshold of grassland habitat within a landscape.
Buffers are commonly viewed as simply a water quality practice, but buffers have notable positive impacts on wildlife due their unique upland and riverine habitat interaction. Not only are upland grasslands protected or restored, but detrimental impacts to stream-reliant biota is reduced. Many species of amphibians, such as southern MN's Northern Cricket Frog (endangered) rely on aquatic habitat during the breeding season and then spend most of their lives in upland habitat. In Southeastern MN, reptiles such as the Blanding's Turtle (endangered) rely on meandering streams, rivers, and adjacent lands.
A scoring mechanism was employed to fund high quality wildlife buffer enhancements and target these funds. Buffers for wildlife under this program were prioritized based upon their ability to enhance public land habitats (e.g., WPA’s or WMA’s), protect expiring CRP lands, add key nesting cover to wetland/upland complexes, provide maximum water quality benefits, and enhance shallow lakes.
At the time this appropriation became available, Minnesota had just over 200,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program in buffer practices at various stages of their 10-15 year contracts, some soon to expire. The RIM Buffer program served as a complement to other programs to secure some of those expiring acres.
$2,090,000 in the second year is to the Board of Water and Soil Resources in cooperation with Pheasants Forever to acquire permanent conservation easements to enhance habitat by expanding clean water fund riparian wildlife buffers on private land. A list of proposed permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report. The accomplishment plan must include an easement stewardship plan. Up to $90,000 is for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund and a description of annual monitoring and enforcement activities.
Protect in easement 375 acres of prairie
Clean Water Fund & Bonding