Prairie Chicken Habitat Partnership of the Southern Red River Valley - Phase III
$1,908,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever in cooperation with the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society to acquire land in fee, and restore and enhance lands in the southern Red River Valley for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes 86A.05, subdivision 8 or to be designated and managed as waterfowl production areas in Minnesota, in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Subject to evaluation criteria in Minnesota Rules 6136.0900, priority must be given to acquisitions of lands that are eligible for the native prairie bank under Minnesota Statutes, section 84.96 or lands adjacent to protected native prairie. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - Number of acres of uplands protected and restored..Key core parcels are protected for fish, game and other wildlife - Most parcels are within core areas as defined by the MPCP. Most parcels abut existing WMAs or WPA which will create larger blocks of contiguous habitat. Most tracts have some remaining native prairie on them meeting a second goal of the MPCP of protecting remaining native prairie. Percent increase of core protected areas measured..
Federal, Private, PF, MPCS
The Prairie Chicken Habitat Partnership will permanently protect, restore, and enhance 586 acres of prairie chicken habitat in the Southern Red River Valley of Northwest Minnesota. Land protected will become either WMA or WPA and open to public recreation.
Grasslands of all types are disappearing at an alarming rate from the landscape. Further, fragmentation of existing grasslands is increasing, especially as the current Farm Bill reduced CRP acre authority by over 10 million acres leaving many producers no choice but to continue intensive agricultural conversion activity to the detriment of grasslands. Conserving Minnesota's remaining tracts of native prairie is one of the primary goals of the MN Prairie Conservation Plan (MPCP). This proposal focuses on protecting remnant prairies and core areas to the degree we can while cooperating with willing sellers. By protecting remnant prairies and restoring grasslands and wetlands, we will help achieve goals of the MPCP such as increasing the abundance and diversity of wildlife. Prairie chickens require large blocks of grassland, with a minimum 320 acres at any one site, but overall a grassland complex of 2,500-acres is recommended to sustain a population. In Minnesota, prairie chickens are now restricted to the beach ridges of the Glacial Lake Agassiz region. Providing secure habitat for prairie chickens also provides habitat for a host of other grassland species (including non-game wildlife, plants, and invertebrates) with less exacting acreage requirements. The MPCP is ideally suited for prairie chicken management with core areas containing large contiguous blocks of grassland and smaller grassland patches scattered across the landscape that allow birds to maintain populations outside the core areas as well as move across the regional landscape. In addition to grassland conservation, most tracts have extensive wetlands. Restoring and maintaining these wetlands will have several benefits including water storage, sequestering and storing carbon, water quality (wetlands are fantastic filters), diversity of flora and fauna, reducing erosion, etc. Projects are selected based upon a scoring priority with six criteria including: 1) distance to the nearest prairie chicken lek; 2) location in or outside of a core area from the MPCP; 3) distance to the nearest public hunting lands (WMA or WPA); 4) tract size; 5) current grassland type (native prairie, restored prairie, brome, or row crop); 6) wetland density and requisite predicted waterfowl breeding pairs density. Habitats affected – restored, enhanced, protected:This proposal will protect native and restored prairies, sedge meadows, other types of grasslands, and wetlands. Some of these sites have existing grass on all or portions of the parcel, and most have a mix of row crop production, pasture, expired or expiring CRP, and existing wetlands. All projects acquired under this proposal will be fully restored as part of the grant activity. Funds will be used to do any immediate restoration or enhancement activities on the sites using local ecotype seed while following pollinator BMPs.Stakeholder opposition and involvement:Proposed tracts were placed on the list because the landowners are willing sellers and have an interest in preserving the wildlife value of those acres. This proposal is driven by the interest of MPCS and PF to maintain habitat, wildlife, and hunting traditions of this area. We will continue to coordinate and communicate with local governments on these tracts.