Southeast Minnesota Protection and Restoration - Phase V
$2,375,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire lands in fee for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes 86A.05, subdivision 8; to acquire land in fee for scientific and natural areas under Minnesota Statutes, sections 86A.05, subdivision 5; to acquire land in fee for state forest purposes under 86A.05, subdivision 7; to acquire permanent conservation easements; and to restore and enhance prairie, grasslands, forest, and savanna for agreements , as follows: $1,000,000 to The Nature Conservancy; $675,000 to The Trust for Public Land; $700,000 to Minnesota Land Trust, of which up to $80,000 is to Minnesota Land Trust for establishing a monitoring and enforcement fund, as approved in the accomplishment plan and subject to Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 17. Annual income statements and balance sheets for income and expenses from land acquired in fee with this appropriation and not transferred to the State of Minnesota or local government unit must be submitted to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Large corridors and complexes of biologically diverse wildlife habitat typical of the unglaciated region are restored and protected - We will track the acres of priority parcels protected within the Conservation Opportunity Areas identified in regional planning. Success within each Conservation Opportunity Area will be determined based on the percentage of area protected restored and/or enhanced. .
This project will protect approximately 680 acres and restore and enhance approximately 70 acres of declining habitat for species of greatest conservation need in strategically targeted areas of biodiversity significance in the Blufflands resulting in increased public access and habitat.
Investment in habitat protection and restoration in the Blufflands with use of Outdoor Heritage Funds in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Minnesota Land Trust (MLT) and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) would expand and connect larger contiguous blocks of protected lands, allowing land managers to restore and maintain native habitats at a scale difficult to accomplish with a fragmented ownership. Benefits of this program include the increased effectiveness of frequent prescribed fire necessary to reclaim "goat prairies", oak savanna and regenerate oak hardwood forests at a larger scale. This proposal will enhance prior conservation investments and ensure that the legacy of the Blufflands is preserved for future generations.Within the program area there are 86 different native plant community types mapped by the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS), covering nearly 149,670 acres. There are 183 species of state listed rare plants and animals, many of which are concentrated on 749 sites of biodiversity significance. Despite this high demand for outdoor recreation only 5% of the region is open to the public. Since 2008, approximately 7% of the grasslands in the focus area of this program have been converted to cropland threatening the coldwater trout streams that make the region unique. Fee Acquisition:The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land will coordinate with MN DNR on all potential fee-title acquisitions. TNC and TPL will assist the participating DNR Divisions by conducting all or some of the following activities: initial site reviews, negotiations with sellers, appraisals, environmental reviews and acquisition of fee title. TNC and TPL will transfer lands to the DNR except when TNC ownership is appropriate. Fee Acquisition of approximately 214 acres of forest and 66 acres of prairie along 1/2 mile of coldwater trout streams.Conservation Easements:Minnesota Land Trust will acquire approximately 360 acres of conservation easements and develop restoration and management plans for eased acres. MLT will use a competitive bidding and ranking system to prioritize the best projects and secure them at the lowest cost to the State.Restoration and Enhancement:Ecological restoration enhancement management plans will be developed in coordination with DNR Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife and Ecological and Water Resources. Enhancement and/or restoration of approximately 70 acres of bluff prairie and/or forest. The Nature Conservancy (the Conservancy) may be reimbursed for salary and fringe benefits based on a provisional fringe benefits rate consistent with federal regulations and negotiated annually with the Conservancy's cognizant agency. Within 180 days of the end of each Nature Conservancy fiscal year, the Conservancy will provide MN DNR with the actual fringe benefits rate for the prior year and reconcile any overpayment made by the State. This approach is consistent with ML 2016, Ch. 172, Art. 1, Sec. 2, Subd. 8 (Payment Conditions and Capital Equipment Expenditures).