Prairie Heritage Fund - Acquisition and Restoration
$3,015,000 in fiscal year 2011 is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Pheasants Forever 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 in writing to each proposed acquisition. All restorations must comply with subdivision 9, paragraph(b).
Pheasants Forever and partners protected 1,020.7 acres of priority prairie grassland, wetland habitat as state wildlife management areas (WMA). In addition, acquired lands were restored and/or enhanced to prairie and/or wetland habitat. These WMAs will provide quality grassland/wetland habitat complexes that will benefit a myriad of game and non-game species and will provide public recreational opportunities for the citizens of Minnesota.
Working with numerous partners throughout the state of Minnesota, Pheasants Forever acquired 1,020.7 acres of land from willing sellers within the project area of 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 9 parcels were acquired within Mower, Dakota, McLeod, Pope, Wright, Pipestone, Kandiyohi and Todd Counties. A total of 10 landowners were presented with offers and PF was successful in securing 9 of those parcels (90% 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 enough 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, $3,014,821.38 of Outdoor Heritage Funds were matched with $501,571.03 of non-state funding to complete this work. We are slightly short of our match goal on this appropriation ($23,428.97). However, when looking at all of our WMA acceleration appropriations, we currently are exceeding our match goals by over $425,000 and expect that number to grow.
Striving to build upon past investments in wildlife habitat conservation and landscape level habitat complexes that protect and sustain wildlife populations, 6 of the 9 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. Wetlands were restored using a combination of tile breaking, sediment removal, dike construction, and water control structures. 45 acres of native prairie have been protected, and all parcels have been opened for public use.