Prairie Chicken Habitat Partnership of the Southern Red River Valley - Phase IV
$1,162,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with
Pheasants Forever, in cooperation with the
Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, to acquire
lands in fee and restore and enhance lands in the
southern Red River valley for wildlife management
under Minnesota Statutes, section 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, 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. 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 WPAs 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. Number of acres protected within core areas and corridors of the MPCP..
Federal, Private, PF, MPCS
The Prairie Chicken Habitat Partnership IV permanently protects 303 acres of greater prairie chicken habitat in the Southern Red River Valley of Minnesota. This partnership protects and restores strategic habitat that builds onto or creates corridors between existing protected lands. Acquired lands will be transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) to be included as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) or to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a WPA. This proposal aims to build quality grassland habitat blocks that sustain and grow greater prairie chicken populations in Minnesota.
The Problem: In Minnesota, greater prairie chickens are largely restricted to the beach ridges of the Glacial Lake Agassiz region. Greater prairie chickens require large blocks of grasslands, with a minimum of 320 acres at any one site. The makeup of these grassland complexes should include numerous successional states of habitat to sustain a local population. Greater prairie chickens are a “flagship” species in the sense that if we have greater prairie chickens on the landscape, then we have also included the habitat needs of many additional grassland-dependent wildlife species with less exacting habitat requirements. Greater prairie chicken habitat has declined dramatically in recent years due to 1) loss of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres and 2) conversion of grasslands; (including remnant native prairie), to row crop production.An Approach to the Problem: This partnership protects native and restored prairies, sedge meadows, and other types of grasslands and associated wetlands to promote the growth and stability of greater prairie chicken populations. The priority is protecting remnant prairies within core and corridor areas of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan. All projects acquired under this proposal will be restored and/or enhanced to be productive grassland habitat as part of the grant activity. Once acquired, the subject tracts will be fully restored and/or enhanced. Our proposed tracts were identified as high priority greater prairie chicken habitat with willing sellers who have an interest in preserving wildlife values of those acres. Tracts are also on the list based on a strategic approach that ranks each tract based on six criteria including: 1) distance to the nearest prairie chicken lek; 2) location in or outside of a core area from the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan (MPCP); 3) distance to the nearest public hunting land (WPA or WMA); 4) tract size; 5) current grassland type (native prairie, restored prairie, brome, or row crop; and 6) wetland density and predicted waterfowl breeding pairs (wetlands can provide important habitat for prairie chickens over their annual life cycle). Benefits: By protecting, restoring and enhancing grasslands and wetlands in the right areas, this partnership delivers on many of the goals of the MPCP. In fact, one ecosystem measure of the MPCP success is to have stable or increasing greater prairie chicken populations in Minnesota. The MPCP is ideally suited for greater prairie chicken management with core areas containing large contiguous blocks of grassland and smaller grassland patches scattered across the landscape called corridors that allow birds to maintain populations outside the core areas as well as move across the 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, diversity of flora and fauna, and reducing erosion. Providing secure habitat for greater prairie chickens also provides habitat for a host of other grassland species that have less exacting habitat requirement with respect to acreage.