MN Prairie Recovery Project - Phase VII

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,901,000
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Recipient
The Nature Conservancy
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Status
Completed
Start Date
July 2017
End Date
August 2021
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Counties Affected
Becker
Big Stone
Clay
Kandiyohi
Kittson
Lac qui Parle
Marshall
Polk
Pope
Red Lake
Stearns
Swift
Yellow Medicine
Becker
Big Stone
Clay
Kandiyohi
Kittson
Lac qui Parle
Marshall
Polk
Pope
Red Lake
Stearns
Swift
Yellow Medicine
Project Overview

This project will advance the prairie protection, restoration and enhancement goals established in the 2011 MN Prairie Conservation Plan. It builds upon the successful model established in Phases 1 - 6 and seeks to protect 200 acres in fee without PILT obligations to be held by The Nature Conservancy, protect an additional 100 acres with PILT for inclusion in the State's Wildlife Management or Scientific Natural Area systems, enhance 7,500 acres of permanently protected grasslands, and restore 100 acres of prairie habitat.

Project Details

Phase 7 built upon the success of the MN Prairie Recovery Project Phases 1-6 by continuing and expanding
enhancement and protection work in 4 focal areas. Project partners, primarily through our participation in Prairie
Plan Local Technical teams, helped us to prioritize and refine guidelines for protection, enhancement and
restoration activities within priority landscapes. The Prairie Recovery Program utilizes a collaborative model for
conservation and we regularly consult and work with a variety of entities including state and federal agencies,
other conservation nonprofits, agricultural producer groups and local governments.
450 acres of existing and restorable grassland were permanently protected within prairie core and corridor areas
as defined in the MN Prairie Conservation Plan. Lands are held by The Nature Conservancy, subject to a recorded
notice of funding restrictions pursuant to LSOHC requirements. All lands acquired in fee are FULLY open to hunting
and fishing per state of Minnesota regulations. Basic developments have been, and will continue to be,
implemented (boundary signage, habitat improvement, wetland restoration). Protection efforts were coordinated
with other partner protection programs (e.g., DNR Wildlife Management Area and Prairie Bank programs), via
interactions through Local Technical Teams. An internal fund has been established by The Nature Conservancy to
cover ongoing land-management costs and property tax obligations. Income generated by agricultural leases
(grazing, haying, and/or cropping) are held in this account and help offset property taxes.
329 acres of cropland were restored to diverse, local-ecotype grassland or grassland/wetland complex. Extensive
effort was made to collect seed from local sources that cover the full season (early spring through late fall) needs of
native pollinators. Seed sourcing included both mechanical and hand collection.
5,469 acres of grassland complex were enhanced on public lands and those purchased with OHF funds and held by
the Conservancy (“protected conservation lands”) to increase native species diversity and improve critical wildlife
habitat. Management techniques included prescribed fire (9 projects impacting 858 acres), removal of woody
vegetation (40 projects for1,723 acres), control of invasive species (58 projects - 2,880 acres), and inter-seeding of
degraded grasslands (6 projects - 169 acres). Much of this work was accomplished by private vendors through
contracts. We also extensively used Conservation Corps of Minnesota (CCM) crews and seasonal staff employed
directly by TNC.
On-the-ground Conservancy staff provided by this grant were co-located in DNR or US Fish and Wildlife Service
offices and helped form and lead local coordination and implementation teams; identified protection, restoration
and enhancement needs and opportunities within the focus areas; worked with DNR and USFWS staff to delineate
conservation projects on public lands; coordinated deployment of contract and staff resources to protected
conservation lands; contacted and worked with private landowners to coordinate agricultural activities/leases on
appropriate protected conservation lands (e.g., haying, grazing, cropping in advance of restoration); educated
lessees on appropriate conservation.
 

Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2017, Ch. 91, Art. 1, Sec. 2, subd. 2(c )
Appropriation Language

$1,901,000 the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with The Nature Conservancy to acquire land in fee for native prairie, wetland, and savanna and to restore and enhance grasslands, wetlands, and savanna. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules, part 6136.0900, priority must be given to acquiring lands that are eligible for the native prairie bank under Minnesota Statutes, section 84.96, or lands adjacent to protected native prairie. No later than 180 days after The Nature Conservancys fiscal year ends, The Nature Conservancy must submit to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council annual income statements and balance sheets for income and expenses from land acquired with this appropriation. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan and must be consistent with the priorities identified in Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,901,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$229,900
Direct expenses
$1,778,600
Administration costs
$122,400
Number of full time equivalents funded
4.48
Measurable Outcome(s)

329 Prairie acres Restored.  450 Prairie acres Protected in Fee without State PILT Liability.  5,469 Prairie acres Enhanced.  A total of 6,248 acres Restored, Protected, and Enhanced.

Source of Additional Funds

TNC

Project Manager
First Name
Neal
Last Name
Feeken
Organization Name
The Nature Conservancy
Street Address
1101 W River Parkway Suite 200
City
Minneapolis
State
MN
Zip Code
55415
Phone
(612) 331-0738
Email
nfeeken@tnc.org
Administered By
Administered by
Location

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone
651-296-6157
Email the Agency