Technical Evaluation Panel
$42,000 the first year to the commissioner of natural resources for a technical assistance panel to conduct up to ten restoration audits, under Minnesota Statutes, sections 97A.056, subdivision 10.
Three of the Six site assessments of Outdoor Heritage Fund restoration projects were conducted in the summer of 2012. Three projects were reviewed by the evaluation panel.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) are jointly responsible for convening a restoration evaluation Panel to annually evaluate a sample of up to 10 habitat restoration projects completed with outdoor heritage funding, as provided in M.L. 2010, Ch. 361, Art. 1. In 2012 the agencies assigned a coordinator for the Panel who is responsible for identifying the sample of projects to be evaluated by the Panel. As directed in Statute the Panel is comprised of at least five technical experts, including one technical representative from BWSR, one technical representative from DNR, one technical representative from the University of Minnesota or the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and two additional representatives with expertise related to the projects being evaluated. The Panel is also represented by an optional six member from Federal or local government. During 2012 and 2013 the Panel consisted of:
Chris Weir-Koetter – DNR, Parks and Trails
Greg Larson – BWSR
Sue Galatowitsch – University of Minnesota
Greg Berg – Stearns County SWCD
Greg Hoch – DNR, Wildlife
Mark Oja – MN NRCS
The Panel evaluated selected habitat restoration projects relative to the law, current science, stated goals and standards in the restoration plans, and applicable guidelines. The coordinator summarized the findings of the panel and providing the Fiscal Year 2012 restoration evaluation report to the chairs of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (L-SOHC) and respective Minnesota House and Senate policy and finance committees with jurisdiction over natural resources and Outdoor Heritage Fund spending. The report determined whether restorations were meeting planned goals, identified problems with implementation of restorations and provided recommendations on improving restorations. Three of the six Outdoor Heritage Fund habitat restoration projects evaluated during 2012 season were reported in the Fiscal Year 2012 report, the remaining three are presented in the Fiscal Year 2013 report. Details regarding process, site assessments and findings are available through the Legislative Library: http://archive.leg.state.mn.us/docs/2012/mandated/121281.pdf.
Evaluations conducted with ML 2011 funds, reported in the Fiscal Year 2012 report:
Appropriation: ML 09 – 2(a) Accelerated Prairie and Grassland Management
Project: Tatley WMA
Project Manager: MN DNR
Parcel Name County Twp Rng Sec TRDS # of acres
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 3
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 10
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 10
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 20
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 25
Tatley WMA Yellow Medicine 114 46 31 11446231 2
Appropriation: ML 09 – 5(a) Conservation Partners Grant Program – FY 2010 (ID A111)
Project: Restoration of Critical Forest Habitat in Northeast Minnesota
Project Sites: Caribou Fall Wayside, State Forest Land adjacent to Wolf Ridge, Hut Two Road Finland
Appropriation: ML 09 – 5(a) Conservation Partners Grant Program – FY 2010 (ID A025)
Project: MWA Lake Maria WMA Restoration
Project Manager: Minnesota Waterfowl Association
Passage of the Legacy Amendment reinforces the state’s continuing efforts to conserve the diversity of lands, waters, and fish and wildlife that provide the foundation for Minnesota’s high quality of life and also brings strong expectations for a greater level of transparency and accountability in the use of these public funds. The restoration evaluation program intends to increase accountability and transparency in the use of Legacy Funds by formalizing and elevating the process of assessing project performance and reporting findings to stakeholders. Site assessment teams will use project appropriate assessment measures to ensure established science based best practices are being applied on the ground in selected Legacy Fund restoration projects. This level of assessment goes beyond standard reporting requirements and exceeds operational capacity of most programs. This program also increases the communication of specific project outcomes and lessons learned from restoration implementation. Reports will focus on improving future restorations by providing feedback to practitioners regarding challenging situations and viable solutions. Creation of this continuous learning environment provides an important tool for improving restoration practice throughout the state.