MNDNR Aquatic Habitat Protection Phase VIII
DNR acquired a fee-title parcel designated as an Aquatic Management area in Itasca County. This acquisition protected 41 acres and exceeded the accomplishment plan goal. Nine trout stream conservation easements were also added to the AMA system. Two Forests for the Future easements with a combined total of 171 acres were acquired, achieving protection in priority watersheds while maintaining working forest in private ownership.
We take a programmatic approach to acquisition, with scoring systems specific to fee-title Aquatic Management Areas, and trout stream conservation easements, respectively, to determine priority of candidate parcels. An outstanding parcel that scored well for multiple criteria was available in Itasca County. All of the available fee-title funding for this appropriation was used on this parcel. Other funding also contributed to this acquisition.
Candidate parcels for trout stream conservation easements are also scored and ranked with relevant criteria specific to trout streams. DNR Central Office program staff work with the Fish and Wildlife Acquisition unit and field staff to identify candidate parcels with landowners willing to sell conservation easements, and prioritize candidates based on scores. Trout stream easements are valued using the formula in statute, so the landowner knows the maximum value from the start of the acquisition process.
This appropriation was one of two in which Fish and Wildlife Division staff in DNR partnered with the Division of Forestry to target forest easement acquisition in priority watersheds. The overlapping objectives central to this partnership are protecting water quality, and maintaining sustainable working forests on private land. Both Division of Forestry and Division of Fish and Wildlife staff conducted outreach with lake associations in the 5 watersheds to explain the program, identify interested landowners, and provide application materials. Applications filled out by interested landowners meeting sign-up criteria were scored by staff in both the Fish and Wildlife Division and Forestry Division of DNR. Parcels meeting criteria were appraised, and offers made to the landowners. While acquisition of easements was completed on two parcels, landowners declined the offer for a significant parcel in Hubbard County.
$1,578,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire land in fee and permanent conservation easements for aquatic management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 14, and 97C.02, to acquire permanent conservation easements under the Minnesota forests for the future program pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 84.66, and to restore and enhance aquatic and adjacent upland habitat. Of this amount, up to $153,000 is to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of proposed land acquisitions, conservation easements, restorations, and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
41 acres protected (in fee with state PILT liability) and 194 acres protected (in easement) for a total of 235 acres