Northeastern Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Habitat Partnership , Phase 3
$1,340,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever in cooperation with the Minnesota Sharp Tailed Grouse Society to acquire and enhance lands for wildlife management area purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protect in fee 492 acres of habitat
This sharp-tailed grouse habitat partnership protected 492 acres, primarily brushland, in northeastern Minnesota for addition to the Wildlife Management Area system providing multiple environmental and wildlife benefits. The partnership between Pheasants Forever, MN Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, and the MN Department of Natural Resources has become a strong and efficient partnership through the Northeastern Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Habitat Partnership appropriations. The Pomroy Pastures and Gun Lake parcels purchased in this appropriation exemplify how we are working together to protect only strategic habitat critical to improving sharp-tailed grouse populations. Over the course of the appropriation, we acquired these 2 parcels for a total of 492 acres which exceeded our acre goal of 476 acres by 16 acres (acre goal was amended on October 31st, 2014 to 476 acres). Of these 492 acres acquired 114.49 of these were wetland acres and 377.51 were upland acres. All acres were acquired in the Northern Forest region near existing sharp-tail grouse leks. Even though we exceeded our acre goal we have a balance of $33,900 that will be returned to the Fund.
Final Report: http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/FY2013/accomp_plan/3c.pdf
Working in close collaboration with partners, Pheasants Forever acquired 492 acres of strategic habitat that builds onto existing protected lands and/or develops corridors for wildlife. All land acquired has been enrolled into the state Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Program and will be protected and managed in perpetuity by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. We have worked together with federal, state and local partners when acquiring both parcels which will now be celebrated as new WMAs. These new WMAs not only provides access and recreational opportunities for all Minnesotans, but helps address a strong need to provide more secure nesting and brood rearing habitat for sharp-tailed grouse near existing leks.
The offers to the landowner were based on fair market values and appraisals. The acquired parcels addressed a backlog of willing sellers that now are helping slow the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat in Minnesota. Parcels were identified in partnership with the MN Sharp-tailed Grouse Society and the MN DNR, ranked, and prioritized on habitat goals and feasibility. Our methods are formed around the principle of accelerating the Wildlife Production Area program in MN by targeting only the best available habitat with willing sellers. We utilize local partner expertise to focus on building a system of interconnected wildlife complexes that create habitat mosaics. We also utilize the latest geospatial layers to help determine factors such as: habitat restoration potential, landscape scale significance, presence of rare features and native habitat, and how these acquisitions fit into other priorities for our partners.
Similar to the Sharp-Tailed Grouse Habitat Partnership Phase 2, this proposal was amended and approved by the council to reduce our acre goal. We came to the council to reduce the obligated acres from the original proposal because of the importance of the Gun Lake parcel and the fact that it costs more per acre than anticipated. The council approved these changes because of this parcels wildlife value which includes multiple sharp-tail leks, water mitigation credits, a DNR history of grouse viewing blinds. Gun Lake WMA is a complex of 762 acres of contiguous habitat.
All parcels acquired have been restored and/or enhanced to as a high quality as practicable. All agricultural row crops on these parcels have been or will be restored to native grassland/wetland complexes. The grasslands were restored using a broadcast or drill seeded method with a diverse mix of native grasses and forb species. Wetlands were restored using a combination of tile breaking, sediment removal, dike construction, and water control structures. Scattered invasive tree removal and prescribed fire were used where appropriate to enhance existing grassland habitat after protection.