Minnesota Forests for the Future - Phase V
$2,291,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire land in easements for 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 $72,000 is for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject 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 - Forest lands are protected from development and fragmentation This project will permanently protect up to 4,000 acres of northern forest
and associated wetlands and nearly 6.6 miles of undeveloped shoreline on several lakes and 1.3 miles on streams thereby preventing habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and associated degradation of waters and wetlands and helping to conserve several large forest/wetland complexes that link to other protected lands..
TNC and U.S. Forest Service
The Minnesota Forests for the Future Program will use $2.291 million for conservation easement acquisition to protect up to 4,000 acres of forest and wetland habitat in the northern forest region. Parcels selected featured some of the largest private forest parcels in the region, high biodiversity sites, topographic and habitat diversity, and connectivity with additional protected forest and wetland complexes. These properties provide habitat for a range of game and non-game species including waterfowl, deer, grouse, timber wolves, ovenbirds and golden-winged warblers and contain 6.6 miles of lake shore and 1.3 stream miles.
The Hardwood Hills and Rum River Project Area is a landscape of forests, riparian habitat, extensive wetlands complexes, and open waters. Over 217 species of greatest conservation need are known to occur within this region, including many disturbance-sensitive species such as red-shouldered hawks. Portions of this landscape have been identified by the Minnesota County Biological Survey as sites of statewide biodiversity significance on the basis of the number of rare species, the quality of the native plant communities, size of the site, and context within the landscape. This landscape is extremely vulnerable to development. Specifically, between 2008 and 2013, more than 260,000 acres of forest, wetland, and grassland in the Upper Mississippi River Basin were converted to other uses, with a large proportion of this fragmentation occurring within the project area. If unprotected, the long term integrity of the wetland and forest habitats will be compromised by future development activities that could convert and fragment habitat and threaten water quality. The purpose of this project is to preserve the ecological integrity and habitat values of this region by focusing protection efforts in strategic locations that ensure that forests remain undeveloped, with connections maintained between forests and wetlands across private and public ownerships.Phase 5 of the Forests for the Future Program will protect parcels ranging in size from nearly 160 acres to nearly 2,000 acres that contain diverse upland and lowland habitats, several small lakes and open water as well as small streams. The northern hardwood forests, conifer forests, and mixed hardwood-conifer uplands communities of the properties provide important nesting habitat for forest-interior songbirds (such as cerulean warblers and ovenbirds) more general forest songbirds (including brown creeper, veery, and hermit thrush), and ruffed grouse. The uplands also offer specialized habitat for red-shouldered hawks and bald eagles. Adjacent shrub thicket habitat and young forests offer habitat for birds of conservation concern such as golden-winged warblers. Mammal species using this landscape includes timber wolf, black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, and beaver. Species using the wetlands and riparian corridors on the project tracts include American black duck, wood duck, mallard, alder flycatcher, swamp sparrow, yellow warbler, blackburnian warbler, and American bittern. Woodcock find foraging and nesting sites in the wetlands and riparian areas and the upland open grasslands offer roosting and singing ground sites.The Forests for the Future Program uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify priority private forest lands for protection. Prioritization goals include: 1. Protecting forests with high public benefits (i.e. high ecological, habitat, economic and recreational values); 2. Focusing protection on the largest, most intact forest lands; and 3. Protecting private forests that will result in the greatest consolidation, linkage, and contiguity of lands. By protecting intact landscapes, the project will help achieve the goals of several resource plans related to the prevention of forest habitat loss and fragmentation. This project is a partnership effort with the Nature Conservancy who has pledged $230,000 towards the successful completion of this project.