Prairie Heritage Fund - Acquisition and Restoration
$3,000,000 in fiscal year 2010 is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever or successor to acquire and restore land to be added to the state wildlife management area system. A list of proposed fee title acquisitions and a list of proposed restoration projects, describing the types and locations of restorations, must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. The commissioner of natural resources must agree to each proposed acquisition. To he extent possible, prairie restorations conducted with money appropriated in this section must plant vegetation or sow seed only of ecotypes native to Minnesota, and preferably of the local ecotype, using a high diversity of species originating from as close to the restoration site as possible, and protect existing native prairies from genetic contamination.
Pheasants Forever non-state match commitment in-kind, N American Wetlands Conservation Act funding, and donations of land value
Pheasants Forever, in cooperation with partners acquired and restored five parcels totaling 1,051 acres within Southern Minnesota and enrolled the parcels into the MNDNR WMA system. In addition, 66 acres of grassland enhancement was completed on existing WMAs.
Accomplishment Plan: http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/FY2010/accomp_plan/2c.pdf
Working with numerous partners throughout the state of Minnesota, Pheasants Forever acquired 1,051 acres of land from willing sellers throughout Southern Minnesota. These lands have been enrolled into the state Wildlife Management Area (WMA) System and will be protected and managed in perpetuity by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In addition, these newly acquired WMAs will provide public access and recreational opportunities for ALL Minnesotans, so fundamentally important to our outdoor heritage.
More specifically, a total of 5 parcels were acquired within Brown, Goodhue, Lyon, Pipestone, and Watonwan Counties. A total of 7 landowners were presented with offers and PF was successful in securing 5 of those parcels (71% success rate). Offers to landowners were based on appraised values and seemed to be competitive with the market at the time. Most projects were closed early in the project period, and therefore the agricultural land boom of 2012 seemed to have little affect on our ability to secure parcels. Parcels were identified in conjunction with DNR wildlife professionals and based on criteria in addition to minimum WMA standards that included: habitat restoration potential, landscape scale significance, presence of significant natural communities, future expansion potential, and multiple benefit analysis.
In total, $2,969,300 of Outdoor Heritage Funds were matched with $862,500 of non-state funding to complete this work. Striving to build upon past investments in wildlife habitat conservation and landscape level habitat complexes that protect and sustain wildlife populations, 4 of the 5 parcels are additions to existing WMAs or are adjacent to existing permanently protected lands. 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 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. 15 acres of native prairie have been protected and all parcels have been opened for public use. In addition, 66 acres of grassland enhancements were completed on an existing WMA in Chippewa County. These restored and permanently protected acres will provide critical habitat for breeding/migrating waterfowl as reproductive and winter habitat for grassland game and non game species.