RIM Wetlands: Phase 7

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$13,808,000
Fund Source
Outdoor Heritage Fund
Recipient
BWSR
Recipient Type
State Government
Status
In Progress
Activity Type
Land Acquisition
Legal Citation / Subdivision
ML 2016, Ch. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 4(c )
Appropriation Language

$13,808,000 the second year is to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to acquire lands in permanent conservation easements and to restore wetlands and native grassland habitat under Minnesota Statutes, section 103F.515. Of this amount, up to $195,000 is to establish a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. A list of permanent conservation easements must be provided as part of the final report.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$13,808,000
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$13,780,400
Administration costs
$27,600
Number of full time equivalents funded
1.65
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands - The RIM Wetland Restoration Evaluation Worksheet is used to prioritize sites to achieve maximum environmental benefits. This includes prioritizing which sites will best serve as wildlife corridors/complexes and provide the highest-quality migratory waterfowl and upland bird habitat. We expect healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as these complexes are restored, and when identified, making sure to include remnant prairie within the easement area. Areas with expiring CRP contracts are also secured, removing the threat of conversion. The increased water retention of restored wetlands will reduce flood potential and lessen the amount of aquatic habitat degradation..Core areas protected with highly biologically diverse wetlands and plant communities, including native prairie, Big Woods, and oak savanna - The RIM Wetland Restoration Evaluation Worksheet is used to prioritize sites to achieve maximum environmental benefits. This includes prioritizing which sites will best serve as wildlife corridors/complexes and provide the highest-quality migratory waterfowl and upland bird habitat. We expect healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as these complexes are restored, and when identified, making sure to include remnant prairie within the easement area. Areas with expiring CRP contracts are also secured, removing the threat of conversion. The increased water retention of restored wetlands will reduce flood potential and lessen the amount of aquatic habitat degradation..Stream to bluff habitat restoration and enhancement will keep water on the land to slow runoff and degradation of aquatic habitat - The RIM Wetland Restoration Evaluation Worksheet is used to prioritize sites to achieve maximum environmental benefits. This includes prioritizing which sites will best serve as wildlife corridors/complexes and provide the highest-quality migratory waterfowl and upland bird habitat. We expect healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as these complexes are restored, and when identified, making sure to include remnant prairie within the easement area. Areas with expiring CRP contracts are also secured, removing the threat of conversion. The increased water retention of restored wetlands will reduce flood potential and lessen the amount of aquatic habitat degradation..Protected, restored, and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands - The RIM Wetland Restoration Evaluation Worksheet is used to prioritize sites to achieve maximum environmental benefits. This includes prioritizing which sites will best serve as wildlife corridors/complexes and provide the highest-quality migratory waterfowl and upland bird habitat. We expect healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as these complexes are restored, and when identified, making sure to include remnant prairie within the easement area. Areas with expiring CRP contracts are also secured, removing the threat of conversion. The increased water retention of restored wetlands will reduce flood potential and lessen the amount of aquatic habitat degradation..

Project Overview

RIM Wetlands will protect and restore 2250 acres of previously drained wetlands and adjacent native grasslands on 30 easements without a CREP. Our priority is to accomplish a CREP, combining RIM and CRP, but standalone RIM may also be used.

About the Issue

RIM Wetlands Phase 7 will accelerate the restoration and protection of approximately 2,250 acres of previously drained wetlands and associated upland native prairie wildlife habitat complexes via approximately 30 permanent conservation easements without a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). We expect the total to include approximately 750 wetland acres and 1,500 acres of adjacent native prairie. The goal of the RIM Wetlands program is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, while optimizing wildlife habitat on every acre enrolled.

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and many federal, state and local agencies and non-government organizations have been formulating a 100,000 acre CREP proposal focused on wildlife habitat and water quality. A final draft proposal has been completed and is being reviewed by USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and state partners. In addition, an Environmental Assessment will be completed in the next few months.

Upon final agreement between the State of MN and the United States Dept. of Agriculture, MN conservation agencies and partners will embark on a seven year effort to implement a CREP to benefit wildlife habitat and provide water quality and hydrology benefits in 54 counties. This will be Minnesota's third CREP and the opportunity will be created to enroll 100,000 acres of permanently protected buffers, wetlands and floodplain easements using a combination of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program. Of the 100,000 acre total, 45,000 acres will be focused on wetlands and adjacent uplands directly associated with this RIM Wetlands proposal. The CREP will be a total of an estimated $800 million of federal, state and local funding, leveraging up to four federal dollars for every state/local dollar.

If the CREP does not come to fruition stand-alone RIM Wetland easements will be secured. Restoration will also occur, when needed. Due to not having a signed CREP agreement at the time of this submittal, leverage has not been included in any of the budget figures and projected acreage outcomes represent a non-CREP stand-alone RIM option. If a CREP agreement is signed later in 2015, acreage totals and number of easements will increase by a maximum of approximately four times, and our request will shift to less easement money (since USDA will pay a majority of the payments to landowners through the CRP) and to more technical assistance, processing and stewardship money since it is estimated that the number of easements will increase dramatically. See attached CREP budget for further information.

These restored wetlands and native grassland complexes will provide critical habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife species in Minnesota. Wetlands and adjacent grasslands provide habitat for waterfowl, pheasants, deer and non-game species, including some that are threatened or endangered.

RIM Wetlands is a local-state-federal partnership delivered locally by Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). In addition, this partnership is possible through collaboration among many local, state and federal partners including Pheasants Forever (PF), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) and the United States Department of Interior - Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS).

In addition, the Conservation Assistance Acceleration Project (CAAP; formerly the Farm Bill Assistance Partnership) is included as a major component in the RIM Wetlands program. Local staff (funded through the CAAP) will promote RIM easements, assist with easement processing and provide key essential technical assistance and project management services. The progression of our wetlands program to reflect our standard RIM process meshes well with the use of CAAP technicians. Ducks Unlimited (DU) consultants were used in the past and were valued for their experience with Federal WRP processing but now we will utilize local staff, especially through the CAAP to perform RIM tasks. However, we will continue to work with DU on this and other efforts.

The RIM Reserve & Soil Conservation Committee – a subcommittee of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources – provides oversight and guidance on behalf of the BWSR.

Meetings will be held each year to provide program oversight and guidance for upcoming sign-ups. We will conduct a RIM Wetlands statewide sign-up in 2016. All applications will be scored and ranked using the RIM Wetland Restoration Evaluation Worksheet. The worksheet determines which projects will provide the greatest wetland functions and values and optimizes wildlife habitat on the selected and enrolled acres. The highest scoring applications will be selected for funding with Outdoor Heritage Funds.

Project Manager
First Name
Dave
Last Name
Rickert
Organization Name
Board of Water and Soil Resources
Street Address
520 Lafayette Road North
City
St. Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
(651) 296-0884
Email
dave.rickert@state.mn.us