MN Prairie Recovery Project - Phase VII
$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.
Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - Protection results will be measured against MN Prairie Conservation Plan goals for protected acres of native prairie and associated grassland for each geography. Enhancement results will be measured using protocols developed for the multi-agency Grassland Monitoring Network.Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - Protection results will be measured against MN Prairie Conservation Plan goals for protected acres of native prairie and associated grassland for each geography. Enhancement results will be measured using protocols developed for the multi-agency Grassland Monitoring Network.
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.
Protect - An estimated 300 acres of prairie, wetlands, grasslands, and savanna will be permanently protected through fee-title acquisition from willing sellers in 5 prairie core/corridor landscapes as identified in the MN Prairie Conservation Plan. Acquired lands will be prioritized according to a matrix using criteria that include: amount of native prairie on the parcel, proximity to other permanently protected areas, quality of habitat and species diversity, and suitability for public recreation. Of these protected acres approximately 200 will be held by The Nature Conservancy subject to a recorded notice of funding restrictions pursuant to a grant agreement with MN DNR. The remaining acres will be transferred to the MN DNR as part of the Wildlife Management Area or Scientific Natural Area programs. Enhance - An estimated 7,500 acres of grassland/wetland complex will be enhanced on permanently protected lands, including lands purchased with OHF funds and held by the Conservancy, MN DNR Management Units, US Fish and Wildlife Service lands, and private lands subject to perpetual conservation easements. The primary objectives of our enhancement activities will be to increase native species diversity and improve critical wildlife habitat. A variety of practices and techniques will be implemented to accomplish our objectives such as: prescribed fire; removal of trees and woody species; invasive species control including mechanical, biological, and chemical control; overseeding with native seed; and conservation grazing, mowing, or haying. The work will be conducted via contracts with private local vendors, Conservation Corps of Minnesota crews and by using Nature Conservancy seasonal and permanent staff. Prairie Recovery Biologists, stationed in the four primary landscapes are responsible for identifying and prioritizing projects in cooperation with our agency partners, selecting and overseeing contracted work and leading and directing seasonal staff. The Biologists are also responsible for participating in and leading Local Technical Team efforts to increase efficiency and effectiveness of program delivery by multiple partners at the landscape scale. Restoration - We plan to restore approximately 100 acres of cropland to diverse local-ecotype grassland and grassland/wetland complexes. Practices to be implemented include those listed as enhancements in addition to re-seeding with native species and restoration of original wetland hydrology.The Nature Conservancy (the Conservancy) may be reimbursed for salary and fringe benefits based on a provisional fringe benefits rate consistent with federal regulations and negotiated annually with the Conservancy's cognizant agency. Within 180 days of the end of each Nature Conservancy fiscal year, the Conservancy will provide MN DNR with the actual fringe benefits rate for the prior year and reconcile any overpayment made by the State. This approach is consistent with ML 2016, Ch. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 8 (Payment Conditions and Capital Equipment Expenditures).