Protecting Forest Wildlife Habitat in the Wild Rice River Watershed
$2,188,000 the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the White Earth Band of Ojibwe to acquire lands in fee in Clearwater County to be managed for wildlife habitat purposes. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan. As a condition of receiving the grant under this paragraph, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe shall: (1) ensure that current access roads and trails on the property are maintained and open to continue the current access to adjoining lands; (2) ensure that the property remains open to hunting and fishing for individuals of the public who are not members of a federally recognized tribe in a manner consistent with current law; and (3) not transfer fee interest in whole or in part to the United States either directly or through an intermediary in trust for the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. Failure to comply with the provisions of this paragraph shall trigger the reversion provisions of Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 15.
Forestlands are protected from development and fragmentation - White Earth Nation will evaluate the effectiveness in protecting forestlands from fragmentation by measuring the total acreage of contiguous forestland that is transferred from private ownership to tribal ownership. In addition, to measure the added value of protecting land adjacent to existing protected lands or in areas of heightened habitat importance (such as riparian corridors), White Earth Nation will break out and measure subsets of the total acreage of protected forestland that are adjacent to existing protected lands or are in areas of special habitat value (e.g., in riparian corridors).
White Earth Nation
White Earth has acquired all 2,034 acres and transferred them into fee title status. Initial assessment/inventory of habitat conditions and needs were conducted in summer of 2017. Most illegal dump sites were removed in summer of 2017. The parcel located east of Lower Rice lake adjacent to HWY 92, which contained remnants of ~ 5 acres of food plots, were planted into a pollinator prairie mix. This prairie planting makes the property compliant with the MN Buffer Law. This east parcel is in the planning stages of an early succession forest manage plan.
White Earth purchased all parcels from seller and transferred titles into Fee status by the White Earth Land Office. Land office drafted the appropriate language as to the requirements of the Lessard-Sam’s stipulations for restrictions to be attached to all Warranty Deeds for all parcels. Natural Resource staff conducted a broad habitat evaluation to establish future habitat needs/enhancement opportunities. White Earth currently plans to keep the parcels in Fee title and continue paying taxes for the foreseeable future. The easterly parcel that abuts HWY 92 had 4 food plots for hunting, was treated for noxious weeds left prior to sale from a hunting lease. These 4 food plots were then planted to a pollinator prairie mix using a Truax seed drill. By utilizing a pollinator planting to prevent further weed growth and stabilize the soil, White Earth conserved runoff and potential contamination from eroding into the Wild Rice River on the upstream side of Lower Rice Lake while providing high quality pollinator species habitat. The remainder of this parcel is dominated by 2 nearly identical aged aspen regeneration was evaluated for an early succession forest plan by NRCS in November of 2017. Currently, there is a 5 year plan in the approval process. White Earth Forestry Department has begun assessing and inventorying current forest stands and pine plantations on several parcels. Lastly, there were several illegal dumpsites scattered across the parcels, of which most were completely picked up in 2017.