MN Prairie Recovery Project - Phase VIII
$2,001,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with The
Nature Conservancy to acquire lands in fee and to
restore and enhance native prairies, grasslands,
wetlands, and savannas. 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. Annual
income statements and balance sheets for income
and expenses from land acquired with this
appropriation must be submitted to the
Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council no later
than 180 days after The Nature Conservancy’s
fiscal year closes. A list of proposed land
acquisitions must be provided as part of the
required accomplishment plan, and the acquisitions
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 - 7 and seeks to protect 350 acres in fee without PILT obligations to be held by The Nature Conservancy, enhance 12,500 acres of permanently protected grasslands, and restore 100 acres of prairie and wetland habitat .
Protect - An estimated 350 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 using prior approved criteria that include: percentage of native prairie on the parcel, proximity to other permanently protected areas, quality of habitat and species diversity, and suitability for public recreation. These protected acres will be held by The Nature Conservancy subject to a recorded notice of funding restrictions pursuant to a grant agreement with MN DNR. Enhance - An estimated 12,500 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; over-seeding with native seed; and conservation grazing, mowing, or haying. The work will be conducted via contracts with local vendors, Conservation Corps of Minnesota or Student Conservation Association 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 100 acres 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.Results to date - Through Phases 1-7 we have protected 6,086 acres of prairies, wetlands, and grasslands and have enhanced nearly 80,000 acres of permanently protected grasslands. The protected acres span our priority geographies. In all cases parcels were purchased that were directly adjacent to, or contributed to, the functional integrity of existing habitat complexes. Average per acre costs for acquired properties has risen over the course of the program and has averaged around $2,250 per acre. Our enhancement projects have focused on accelerating the implementation of prescribed fire, extensive woody vegetation removal, building the infrastructure for conservation grazing systems and mechanical and chemical treatment of invasive species. Costs for enhancement and restoration work vary depending on the practices being implemented but have averaged around $100 per acre.