MN DNR Aquatic Habitat Program - Phase VI

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Recipient Type
State Government
In Progress
Start Date
July 2014
End Date
June 2018
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Counties Affected
Mille Lacs
Otter Tail
St. Louis
Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2014, Ch.256, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 5(a)
Appropriation Language

$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.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Increased availability and improved condition of riparian forests and other habitat corridors - Number of miles of shoreland protected or enhanced..Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Routine lake or stream surveys that monitor populations on waterbodies with restoration or enhancement projects..Greater public access for wildlife and outdoors-related recreation - Number of additional lake and stream miles added for public use..Improved availability and improved condition of habitats that have experienced substantial decline - Miles of riparian shoreline protected or enhanced..Improved aquatic habitat indicators - Monitoring for lack of erosion, health of native riparian vegetation, and water quality. Miles of stream restored or enhanced..Improved aquatic habitat vegetation - Miles of riparian vegetation enhanced, with evaluation of health of native plant community..Protected, restored, and enhanced aspen parklands and riparian areas - Acres of riparian areas protected, restored, or enhanced..Rivers and streams provide corridors of habitat including intact areas of forest cover in the east and large wetland/upland complexes in the west - Miles of reconnected river, or acres of reconnected lakes created by fish passage projects..A network of natural land and riparian habitats will connect corridors for wildlife and species in greatest conservation need - Miles of riparian area restored or enhanced..Improved aquatic habitat indicators - Miles of shoreland where a native riparian plant community is restored or enhanced..Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Routine stream fish surveys will monitor changes in fish populations..High priority riparian lands, forestlands, and savannas are protected from parcelization and fragmentation - Miles of stream protected under easement..Stream to bluff habitat restoration and enhancement will keep water on the land to slow runoff and degradation of aquatic habitat - Acres of riparian area protected as a buffer for streams from agricultural land use..Improved condition of habitat on public lands - Acres of Aquatic Management Area restored or enhanced..Restored and enhanced upland habitats - Acres of upland vegetation restored or enhanced..

Source of Additional Funds

Lake County SWCD and US Forest Service, RIM and Private Source

Project Overview

We will use a programmatic approach to achieve prioritized aquatic habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement of lakes, trout streams, and rivers across all of the LSOHC planning regions of Minnesota.

About the Issue

Minnesota’s aquatic habitats have been degraded or threatened by over a century of  land, hydrology, and human settlement-related alterations. The consequence has been reduced or degraded habitats for aquatic species, and fragmentation of formerly continuous habitats that served as corridors of movements. These impacts limit fish populations in many lakes and rivers throughout the state, including the game species (e.g. trout, walleye, bass, catfish, lake sturgeon) that anglers often pursue. Through this proposal MN DNR will address aquatic habitat needs at numerous locations, and in the process create better fishing for the angling public.

This proposal uses a programmatic approach to achieve prioritized aquatic habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement for lakes, trout streams, and rivers across Minnesota. We propose to: i) protect 7.5 miles (140 acres) of shoreline on lakes, rivers and trout streams; ii) restore and enhance river and stream functions along 7,200 feet of stream, and fish barrier removal benefiting 1,163 acres; iii) enhance 1000 feet of publicly owned riparian shoreline in the Twin Cities metro, and v) enhance 225 acres of riparian habitat on Aquatic Management Areas. The total of shoreline miles protected, restored, or enhanced will be at least 10 miles. The strategic approach and priority resources targeted in this proposal are supported by a number of internal and external conservation planning documents.

The DNR will implement this proposal through established and highly successful programs each having strong stakeholder support. Aquatic habitat protection work will occur within the AMA designation unit of the Outdoor Recreation System established by the Legislature in 1992. AMAs have strong support from conservation groups and anglers because of the multiple benefits of habitat protection and access that they provide. The AMA Program currently has an inventory of more than 830 miles of shoreline in over 330 AMAs, which provide permanent protection of critical riparian habitats, perpetuate fish and wildlife populations, safeguard water quality, and offer public recreational access opportunities. Acquisition will be a mixture of fee title purchases and stream angling easements. A stream easement acquisition position previously funded by the OHF will be extended for an additional two years. To date this position has identified willing easement sellers for 24 parcels on southeast Minnesota trout streams totaling 10.6 miles of easement, of which 9 parcels totalling 4.2 miles have been acquired to date. Additional funds are needed to complete acquisition of additional parcels.

Stream habitat restoration and enhancement will be based on proven methods and DNR experience with multiple projects. The DNR has worked on large-scale river and stream restoration projects since 1998 and has completed or assisted in design elements of over 100 stream projects addressing issues such as ditching, straightening, flood-damage, and loss of habitat complexity. Stream habitat projects reconstruct the stream’s conditions and address the key components of a stream: wildlife and fish habitat, water quality, connectivity to the floodplain and upstream reaches, and hydrology. By drawing on accumulated scientific knowledge, the DNR strives to deliver the best possible restoration and enhancement projects using the best available science.

Providing fish passage at in-stream barriers such as low-head dams reconnects fish and other aquatic species to upstream habitats essential for spawning, juvenile life stages, and overall abundance and genetic diversity. Monitoring of past projects has revealed immediate and significant fish population changes when fish passage is restored. Dam removal, dam modification, and culvert replacement are all examples of fish passage projects previously completed by the DNR. Large projects such as dam removals can be expensive, but they can restore habitat over a huge length of stream miles or connected lakes once completed, creating benefits that justify the cost. All proposed fish passage projects have been determined not to increase the potential for invasive species infestation.

Shoreland habitat enhancement has been a long-standing program of the DNR, both in terms of projects completed by the department and for funds granted toward projects by outside groups. The DNR and its grantees utilize bioengineering methods, including planting of deep-rooted native plants, that will stabilize shorelines and enhance habitat for wildlife. By focusing a portion of this work on public parkland in the Twin Cities metro-area, the visibility of successful and beautiful projects with abundant wildlife may encourage private landowners to consider creating similar habitat on their own shorelines.

Projects will be prioritized from a list of potential projects based on the significance of benefit to aquatic habitat, urgency of the work, availability of leverage funding, geographic spread of projects, and agreement with relevant planning documents. All projects will be accessible to public angling.

With the proposed level of funding in this request, we will:

-Protect 40 acres of riparian habitat through fee title purchase of AMA, and 7 linear miles of stream through purchase of angling easements
-Restore or enhance stream habitat along 7,200 feet of stream
-Enhance fish passage at the outlet to a chain of lakes, reconnecting 9 lakes totaling 1,163 acres to restore access to historic spawning areas and reconnect fish to their historic range;
-Enhance upland and riparian habitat on 225 acres of AMA units to improve native vegetative cover and wildlife habitat, and protect water quality;
-Enhance 1000 feet of shoreland habitat on public park land in the Twin Cities Metro area (Ramsey, Washington, Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Scott Counties)

Four salary positions are included in this proposal to facilitate completion of OHF projects:

-A stream easement acquisition position previously funded by the OHF will be extended for an additional two years.
-Two additional years of funding is proposed to continue an existing stream habitat project coordinator position that will provide project oversight of major DNR stream habitat and fish passage projects.
-One year of an intern position to assist the stream habitat coordinator during field sampling
-A part-time position responsible for contracting habitat enhancement work on AMA parcels will address a key role that is limiting completing this work

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Street Address
500 Lafayette Rd. Box 20
St. Paul
Zip Code
(651) 259-5205