Minnesota Forests for the Future Phase IV
$1,840,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire forest, wetland, and shoreline habitat through working forest permanent conservation easements under the Minnesota forests for the future program pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 84.66. A conservation easement acquired with money appropriated under this paragraph must comply with Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 13. The accomplishment plan must include an easement monitoring and enforcement plan. Of this amount, up to $25,000 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 permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report.
Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation - This project will permanently protect over 3,200 acres of northern forest habitats and approximately 5.8 miles of undeveloped shoreline on 2 wild rice lakes, designated trout streams and trout stream tributaries, and other streams, thereby preventing habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and associated degradation of waters and wetlands. .
Project will protect approximately 3,200 acres of forest, wetland, and shoreline habitats in northeastern Minnesota with a permanent conservation easement that provides recreational and management access, ensures sustainable forestry, and prevents parcelization and fragmentation of large, contiguous forest blocks.
The Northern Forest Section contains large blocks of forest habitat interspersed with lakes, streams and wetlands that comprises some of the most biologically complete and important systems in the state for fish, game and wildlife. Forest land ownerships changes across the northern forest within recent years, primarily within the industrial forest ownerships, are occurring as the timber industry restructures and looks to obtain value from their land through real estate sales and recreational leases. These sales can result in forest parcelization and fragmentation or even outright conversion of forest lands which can produce significant impacts to forest, wetland and aquatic habits. In order to protect this rich mosaic of habitats, provide recreational and management access, and ensure sustainable forestry practices, the DNR proposes to implement Phase 4 of its Minnesota Forests for the Future Program to protect important northern forests and the associated aquatic and wetland habitats. This project will build on the successes of Phases 1, 2 & 3 of this program which has protected nearly 210,000 acres of working forests, thousands of acres of intact wetlands and many miles of shoreline on lakes, streams and rivers across the north with 100% public access on the lands protected. This project will address goals identified in several statewide plans including the Outdoor Heritage Fund: A 25 Year Framework, the Aquatic Area Management Program, and the Minnesota Forests for the Future Strategic Plan and many other state priorities.
In phase four of the program, Minnesota DNR will permanently protect approximately 3,200 acres of mixed conifer forest, deciduous forests and wetlands with a perpetual conservation easement that includes protection of nearly 1.5 miles of shoreline on 2 wild rice lakes, and approximately 3.5 stream miles along several state designated trout streams, trout stream tributaries, and other streams and rivers. The proposed project parcels are located within both the North Shore Highlands and the Toimi Uplands Subsections both of which contain important forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes that provide habitat for numerous Species in Greatest Conservation Need. Nearly half of the proposed project parcels are located within areas designated as high or moderate biodiversity significance by the Minnesota County Biological Survey. These parcels are also located in two Audubon Important Bird Areas which have some of the highest numbers of breeding bird species in the state including those for warbler species.
The program will target an industrial ownership located in northeastern Minnesota whose property adjoins and is commingled with thousands of acres of other public forests including those owned and managed by the state, Lake County and the Superior National Forest. The DNR will seek a bargain sale from this landowner which would reduce the cost of acquiring the easement.
Outcomes from this project include: 1) The protection and perpetuation of abundant and healthy terrestrial and aquatic habitats for fish, game, and other wildlife species including such iconic northern forest species as moose, gray wolf, ruffed grouse, forest birds and Canada lynx; 2) Increased access to forest lands and streams, rivers and lakes for outdoor recreation including fishing and hunting; 3) Maintaining healthy watersheds and clean water by protecting those critical shorelines and adjoining uplands; 4) Ensuring sustainable forestry practices through Forest Stewardship Plans and the application of best management practices.
Conservation easements secured under this program will be perpetual and will prevent the destruction and fragmentation of forestland while also protecting the aquatic habitats and shorelines from damaging activities. The easement will prohibit land uses and activities not consistent with the protection and conservation of the forest, the aquatic habitats and wetlands. The easement will provide public access to the entire property for outdoor recreation purposes including hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-county skiing, bird-watching and similar activities. All easements acquired and managed by DNR Forestry under the Minnesota Forests for the Future Program will be monitored annually by the Division of Forestry and enforced as needed to protect the habitat and other conservation values of the easement property.
Proposed activities under this project include:
1) Drafting and completing a perpetual conservation easement.
2) Documenting property conditions with a Baseline Property Report.
3) Developing a Forest Stewardship Plan for the property that will guide the landowner’s forest management activities in a way that protects and conserves the forest habitat, riparian and aquatic features, and other important conservation features.
3) Preparing an easement monitoring plan for the property.
4) Transferring funds to the dedicated monitoring account for the perpetual monitoring and enforcement of the property.