Shallow Lake and Wetland Protection Program - Phase IV
Ducks Unlimited successfully completed this Phase 4 our land acquisition/restoration program to protect shallow lakes and restore wetlands by purchasing and restoring 1,004 acres of land with drained wetlands and land on shallow lakes as additions to state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) for the MNDNR throughout southern Minnesota. This accomplishment exceeded our 900-acre goal, was $81,225 under budget, and included a 644-acre parcel (one square mile) on the Swessinger WMA in Nobles County, a 285-acre parcel on the Rooney Run WMA in Martin County, and a 75-acre land parcel on Sanborn Lake WMA in Le Sueur County.
This grant began in July 2015, and over the course of eight years, DU successfully acquired and restored three parcels of land totally 1,004 acres, and exceeded our 900-acre OHF grant goal. These land acquisition and restoration accomplishments through this ML2015 OHF appropriation included the 644-acre Jones Tract on Swessinger WMA in Nobles County purchased in October 2015, the 75-acre Gintner Tract on Sanborn Lake WMA in Le Sueur County purchased in December 2015, and the 285-acre Krahmer Tract on Rooney Run WMA in Martin County purchased in January 2016. DU worked diligently appraise and arrange for each of these land acquisitions through Phase 3 of our program so that each could be purchase in a timely manner shortly after this OHF grant for our Phase 4 program was was appropriated. All three tracts were transferred to the Minnesota DNR in spring 2016 as restoration planning and implementation began.
Restoration of the smaller 75-acre Gintner Tract on Sanborn Lake WMA in LeSueur County was completed promptly in spring 2016 by a contractor seeding 25 acres of cropland back to native prairie grass and forbs with a native plant seeding drill. No wetland restorations were possible on this relatively small parcel, but existing wetlands were protected, and the acquisition adds more WMA habitat land around Sanborn Lake, which DU subsequently enhanced through another OHF grant program.
Restoration of the other two larger parcels took longer to survey, design, plan, get permitted, and implement due to their size and complexity, and work continued through the end of 2020. In each case, DU purchased a diverse mix of native seed for each tract with guidance from Minnesota DNR prairie ecologists and biologists, and DU engineers were required to help restore multiple large wetlands on each.
On the 644-acre Jones Tract at Swessinger WMA in Nobles County, restoration work began with Minnesota DNR field staff seeding 52 acres of the tract back to native grass and forbs in December 2015. DU then purchased a large quantity of additional native seed (100 different species) to restore over 500 additional upland and wetland acres of the tract in fall 2016 (based on expert guidance from Minnesota DNR prairie ecologists and wildlife biologists), which Minnesota DNR Wildlife staff broadcast seeded onto the site in fall 2016. At the same time, a private contractor hired by DU began wetland restorations in November 2016 and work continued until the ground froze in December 2016. Most wetlands were restored on the site by end of December 2016 except three larger wetland basins affecting county and township roads, which were later restored in 2018 and 2019 after DU and DNR negotiated with Nobles County and Bloom Township to develop mutually-acceptable restoration plans for each basin that maximized wetland hydrology restoration while meeting road safety and integrity concerns of the local units of government. All wetland work was eventually completed in fall 2019.
On the 285-acre Krahmer Tract on Rooney Run WMA in Martin County, DU hired a private contractor to "snow-seed" native plant seed on 200 acres of former cropland on Rooney Run WMA in March 2016. Wetland restorations on Rooney Run WMA were complex and involved disrupting 30 miles of subsurface pattern tile and altering a large county drainage tile, which required extensive engineering, and approval of Martin County. DU worked closely with Martin County, which approved legal judicial ditch modification required to alter county tile and restore wetlands, and DU hired a contractor
to perform the wetland restoration work in summer/fall 2020. All work was completed by end of December 2020 as required, within 5 years of when the land was purchased in early January, 2016.
In summary, DU successfully completed acquisition and restoration of all three large land acquisition projects totaling 1,004 acres (above our 900-acre goal), transferred them to MNDNR, and completed restoration of each of them by December 31, 2020. DU completed restoration of all three parcels too. Total acres protected was 248 wetland acres and 758 upland acres, much of which required restoration as most of each tract was cropland, except for the Gintner Tract on Sanborn Lake WMA. This work was completed $81,225 under OHF budget and included $532,860 in non-state private DU and federal NAWCA funds. The $81,225 unspent of this state appropriation was returned to the OHF, and was the result of competitive contractor prices to restore wetlands on Rooney Run WMA in Martin County in 2020 due to the C19 pandemic, along with an infusion of more private and federal NAWCA grant funds than originally anticipated ($532,860, well above the $60,000 in "leverage" originally pledged back in 2015).
$9,040,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Ducks Unlimited to acquire land in fee for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. A list of proposed acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Acquired in Fee with PILT Liability 1004 acres of wetland and prairie.
DU private funds and NAWCA federal funds