MN DNR Aquatic Habitat Program - Phase VI
DNR modified six dams to allow fish passage and enhanced in stream habitat on two rivers with this appropriation. Also, habitat enhancement project were completed on 28 Aquatic Management Areas and three metro parks, totaling 1,002 acres. Stream habitat work for this appropriation and LSOHC-funded projects from other appropriations was aided by funding for a stream restoration coordinator and interns. These positions aided in public outreach, survey work, design, permitting, contracting, and coordination with project partners on these complex projects. The coordinator moved seven additional projects forward and assessed ten potential projects for future LSOHC proposals.
Stream projects were prioritized based on the DNR's Stream habitat Priority List, where projects are ranked based on a number of criteria surrounding support and outcomes. This appropriation funded five stream projects, several of which involved external partners. Individual project details are outlined below.
- Sand Hill River Fish Passage Project: This project partnered with the Sand Hill River Watershed District and Army Corps of Engineers to restore fish passage on the Sand Hill River. The in channel portion of the project was essentially completed in 2017. Initial fish surveys have already documented restored fish passage upstream of the modified dams. Both this grant and an ML 2015 grant to the Sand Hill River Watershed District contributed to the local share of this project and were matched 3:1 by federal funds. Credits for habitat benefits were divided up between the two grants based on overall contribution to the project.
- Knutson Dam fish passage- Construction of the project was finished in the spring of 2016. The dam, at the outlet of Cass Lake in Beltrami County, was modified into a rapids to allow fish movement upstream from the Mississippi River. This will allow free movement between habitats in the lakes upstream and the river downstream, facilitating access for fish to key habitats such those used for spawning. The project was done in conjunction with the US Forest Service, who owns the dam. The initial LSOHC grant spurred multiple other parties to invest in the project, totaling $660,000 in match. Partners included the US Forest Service, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Mississippi Headwater Restoration Fund, Chippewa Stewardship Fund, Otter Tail Wetland Mitigation, and Otter Tail Transmission Line Tribal Gathering Mitigation.
- Long Lake fish passage- We worked with Itasca County to modify a small dam at the outlet to Long Lake into a rapids in January, 2016 in order to facilitate fish passage.
- Straight River habitat enhancement: Several DNR divisions teamed up to improve aquatic habitat by installing 32 new tree structures on the Straight River, one of Minnesota’s premier trophy brown trout streams. DNR fisheries staff selected three sections of the river to place the structures to address an over-wide stream channel with little cover for fish. Due to the inaccessibility of this reach of stream for heavy equipment due to surrounding wetlands, a helicopter was used to lower about 150 trees into position to create the structures. A total of 4,180 feet of stream was enhanced by this project.
- South Branch Root River: This project was funded by the ML2013 and ML2014 DNR Aquatic Habitat appropriation. A 450 foot reach of the river was experiencing severe erosion, with the streambank losing over 10 feet per year. A riffle was constructed at the upstream end of the reach to direct flow, and a bankfull bench was constructed along the eroding bank using toe wood to enhance stability and fish habitat. The bench was vegetated with a native seed mix and willow live stakes. Construction was completed in August of 2018.
- AMA Enhancement: This appropriation includes funding for personnel tasked with assessing habitat needs on Aquatic Management Areas (AMAs), writing management guidance documents that outline projects, and overseeing project implementation. AMA Specialists completed nine new site assessments, bringing the total number of AMAs assessed since June 2014 to 138. To date, 109 Management Guidance Documents have been completed. An additional 29 Management Guidance Documents are in various stages of review. Staff also planned or oversaw enhancement project on 48 AMAs. These accomplished acres are reflected in the status updates for individual OHF appropriations that funded contracts and/or materials for the project.
Site visits for specific habitat project planning purposes or habitat enhancement work completed:
• Jennie Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Minniebelle Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Hutchinson FMA (Prairie)
• Miller Creek AMA (SE Forest)
• Gemini AMA (Prairie)
• Eagle Creek AMA (Metro)
• Lotus Lake AMA (Metro)
• Silver Creek AMA (Metro)
• Elizabeth Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Games Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Norway Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Francis Lake AMA (Prairie)
• St Peter AMA (Prairie)
• Cannon River (Morristown) AMA (Prairie)
• Middle Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Kasota Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Cedar River AMA (Prairie)
• Sanborn AMA (Prairie)
• Whispering Ridge AMA (Prairie)
• Etna Creek AMA (SE Forest)
• Sakatah Lake AMA (Prairie)
• St. Catherine Lake AMA (Metro)
• Glacier Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Pierz Fish Lake AMA- Forest/Prairie Transition
• Quamba Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Cross Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Bertha Moody Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Hubert Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Agate Rearing Pond AMA- Northern Forest
• Sunrise Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Cedar Creek AMA- Northern Forest
• Larson Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• North Long Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Buetow AMA- Northern Forest
• Island Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Roosevelt Lake AMA- Northern Forest
• Little Knife AMA- Northern Forest
• Barnes Springs AMA- Northern Forest
• Frank Rose AMA- Prairie
• Glacier Lake AMA (N. Forest)
• Little Otter Creek AMA (N. Forest)
• North Long Lake AMA (N. Forest)
• Little Knife AMA (N. Forest)
• Barnes Springs AMA (N. Forest)
• Bertha Moody AMA (N. Forest)
AMA staff worked with R3 and R4 Roving Crews to write burn plans for:
• Stephen AMA (Prairie)
• Minniebelle Lake AMA (Prairie)
• Miller Creek AMA (SE Forest)
- Stream habitat work for this appropriation and other LSOHC-funded projects from other appropriations was aided by funding for a stream restoration coordinator and interns. These positions aided in public outreach, survey work, design, permitting, contracting, and coordination with project partners on these complex projects. Five projects were completed during this appropriation. The coordinator was also responsible for moving 7 additional projects forward and assessing 10 potential projects for future LSOHC proposals. The coordinator has collected monitoring data on two completed LSOHC projects. The coordinator (with interns) collected culvert data on 4 watersheds, identified barriers and determined which barriers are among the highest priority.
$2,560,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire interests in land in fee for aquatic management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 14, and 97C.02, and to restore and enhance aquatic habitat. A list of proposed land acquisitions and restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Restored 131 acres, protected in fee with state PILT liability 62 acres, protected in easement 132 acres, and enhanced 2,182 acres for a total of 2,507 acres.
US Forest Service, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Mississippi Headwater Restoration Fund, Chippewa Stewardship Fund, Otter Tail Wetland Mitigation, and Otter Tail Transmission Line Tribal Gathering Mitigation