Shell Rock River Watershed Habitat Restoration Program - Phase VI
$1,779,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the Shell Rock River Watershed District to acquire land in fee, restore, and enhance aquatic habitat in the Shell Rock River watershed. A list of proposed acquisitions, restorations, and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - will be measured by the increase of use days for migrating waterfowl and improved habitat acres for unique species. The protected, restored and enhanced shallow lakes, wetlands, and streambanks will provide habitat to wildlife and support healthy natural resource conditions for long term benefits. They will offer an oasis for migratory waterfowl by re-establishing and connecting MCBS corridors, and flyway habitats. Improved and permanently protected areas will provide a lasting habitat for Minnesota's unique species. .
Local Option Sales Tax
The Shell Rock River Watershed District's Phase VI Habitat Restoration Program will restore, enhance and protect 359 acres of essential shallow lake, wetland and stream bank habitat across the watershed. Over the next five years, agricultural landscapes will be turned into wetland complexes, shallow lakes burdened with rough fish will be restored to provide breeding and migratory waterfowl habitats, streambanks will be enhanced, and key biological functioning parcels will be permanently protected. Projects in Phase VI are critical for the benefit of fish, waterfowl and wildlife populations, reversing the trend of wetland loss and habitat degradation.
The Shell Rock River Watershed District (SRRWD) covers 246 square miles inside Freeborn County and includes a complex system of wetlands, streams, and shallow lakes that drain into the Shell Rock River. Managing habitat for this complex system is imperative to the SRRWD as well as understanding its role for providing critical habitat for fish, waterfowl and wildlife. Habitat degradation of wetlands, streams, and shallow lakes is an issue of statewide importance that requires accelerated investment in projects to reverse this degradation. Protection and restoration of this critical habitat is the highest priority of the SRRWD and is directly affected by invasive aquatic vegetation, land use changes, increased water demands, populations of invasive fish species such as common carp, and artificial drainage. Degradation in habitat is influencing available food sources for game fish populations that include Northern Pike, Bluegill, Yellow Perch and Walleye, and duck populations that include Northern Pintail, Redhead, Canvasback and Lesser Scaup.With this growing concern, in 2014 the SRRWD created a phased, $20 million dollar approach to restore, protect, and enhance degraded habitat conditions through implementations of projects on a lake-shed basis. The Watershed Habitat Restoration Program is designed to accomplish the following objectives: remove rough fish species and restore desirable fish, waterfowl and wildlife populations, enhance native aquatic rooted vegetation, increase fish habitat and spawning areas, waterfowl nesting areas, improve waterfowl breeding and migratory success, restore streambanks, increase wildlife habitat and its natural prairie, increase and improve community use of restored natural resources and protect the watershed from invasive species.These long term goals will interconnect and re-establish important flyway habitats within Minnesota. Restored habitat will improve the breeding and migratory habitat base for species and recovery of their populations. The goal is to establish waterfowl and fish populations, increase habitat for wetland dependent wildlife, and create the wildlife mecca that was recorded in the late 1800's. Phase VI will contribute to these goals by:• Acquire 33 acres of key targeted lands to re-establish native vegetation, improve nesting habitat and waterfowl food sources.• Restore 35 acres of wetland basins to improve upland game and waterfowl nesting habitat.• Enhance 266 lake acres with rotenone treatment to control rough fish and re-establish native aquatic vegetation. • Restore 25 acres of streambank within the Shell Rock River Aquatic Management Area to improve wildlife habitat. The program includes projects that are prioritized on the significance of the benefits to aquatic habitat, urgency of the work, availability of leverage funding, location of projects and agreements with relevant planning documents. The SRRWD has a proven track record with the LSOHC and implementing projects that protect, restore and enhance natural resources. This proposal uses a programmatic approach to achieve prioritized aquatic habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement of lakes, wetlands and streams across the Watershed to once again create the wildlife mecca. Finally, this program will preserve an outdoor legacy for Minnesotans to use and enjoy for generations.