Protection of Rare Granite Rock Outcrop Ecosystem

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,382,000
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$418,000
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient
Renville Soil and Water Conservation District
Recipient Type
Local/Regional Government
Status
Completed
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2013
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Restoration/Enhancement
Counties Affected
Chippewa
Lac qui Parle
Redwood
Renville
Yellow Medicine
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 04e
Appropriation Language

$1,800,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources, in cooperation with the Renville Soil and Water Conservation District, to continue to acquire perpetual easements of unique granite rock outcrops, located in the Upper Minnesota River Valley. $418,000 of this appropriation is for fiscal year 2010 and is available the day following final enactment.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,382,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 04e
Appropriation Language

$1,800,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources, in cooperation with the Renville Soil and Water Conservation District, to continue to acquire perpetual easements of unique granite rock outcrops, located in the Upper Minnesota River Valley. $418,000 of this appropriation is for fiscal year 2010 and is available the day following final enactment.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$418,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Overview

PROJECT OVERVIEW
Granite rock outcrops along the Upper Minnesota River are among the oldest exposed rock in North America, dating back approximately 3.6 billion years. These outcrops are also home to rare and specialized plant and animal communities rarely found elsewhere in Minnesota, including several types of cactus and one of Minnesota's only three lizard species, the five-lined skink. However, these rock outcrops are increasingly threatened by mining, overgrazing, and development. Through this appropriation, the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District is working with Minnesota's Board of Water and Soil Resources to acquire conservation easements that will permanently preserve approximately 700 acres of this endangered habitat in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Redwood, Renville and Yellow Medicine counties.

OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
A total of 748.4 acres of rare and unique Minnesota River Valley landscape were permanently protected and sixteen landowners were paid $1,741,580 for voluntarily placing perpetual conservation easements on those acres. Five counties participated in the project including Lac qui Parle, Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Redwood, and Renville. Easement applications were scored by resource professional teams and funding was based on those scores.

Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) employees saw a need to protect the natural environment and to provide economically viable choices for the landowners. The Minnesota River Valley contains exposed ancient granite rock outcrops that provide unique landscape features and habitat for specialized plant and animal communities rarely found elsewhere in Minnesota. No programs existed that would give landowners a payment if they chose to protect the area from development by mining, overgrazing, and other development interests. Rock outcrops are a component of the Minnesota River's riparian zone, and destruction of this unique habitat degrades water quality and wildlife habitat in the Minnesota River and its tributaries. Removal of the rock results in severe degradation and permanent loss of these unique landscape features. The Minnesota River Corridor is easily susceptible to fragmentation because it comprises such a small percentage of the Minnesota River Watershed. Past development activities and mining operations have already fragmented large areas of the fragile Minnesota River Corridor.

Demand for aggregate is growing as our population and infrastructure grow. Interest in mining exposed granite rock outcrops in the Minnesota River Valley is high because the rock is readily available and there is no overburden to remove. This encourages the practice of horizontal mining, removing the easiest and most profitable rock, and moving on. Unlike gravel mining operations, there is no reclamation plan possible for replacing this unique landscape feature once it is removed.

PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The Renville SWCD website (www.renvilleswcd.com/) continues to update the public on the Rock Outcrop projects by posting information & photos in the "News" section of the website. Each SWCD in Minnesota is required to maintain a website. Those websites contain information on available programs and update the public on current topics of interest in the county.

Each SWCD has a unique position within their community to deliver conservation programs. SWCDs are the local "go to" agency for conservation program delivery and the staff are both trusted and respected by local landowners. Each SWCD office will personally contact landowners who have high quality rock outcrop landscapes on their property. This one-on-one contact will be a major source of providing information to the public.

Individual SWCD offices will continue to keep their local press informed on the progress of the program. In November 2009 the West Central Tribune featured a front page story which reported on Mr. Kalahar's appearance at the Renville County Board work session where he updated the County Board on the status of the project.

Project Details
Project Manager
First Name
Thomas
Last Name
Kalahar
Organization Name
Renville Soil and Water Conservation District
Street Address
1008 W Lincoln
City
Olivia
State
MN
Zip Code
56277
Phone
(320) 523-1559
Email
kalahar@yahoo.com