Wetland Habitat Protection and Restoration Program - Phase 3
$1,786,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with
Minnesota Land Trust to acquire permanent
conservation easements and to restore and enhance
prairie, wetland, and other habitat in
high-priority wetland habitat complexes in the
prairie and forest/prairie transition regions. Of
this amount, up to $240,000 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 proposed conservation easement acquisitions
and restorations and enhancements must be
provided as part of the required accomplishment
Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands - This program will permanently protect 646 acres of wetland and upland habitat complexes and restore/enhance 745 acres of wetlands and prairies in the forest-prairie transition region. Measure: Acres protected; acres restored; acres enhanced..Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - This program will permanently protect 646 acres of wetland and upland habitat complexes and restore/enhance 745 acres of wetlands and prairies in the prairie region. Measure: Acres protected; acres restored; acres enhanced..
Private landowner donation of easement value, USFWS Staff
Phase 3 of the Wetland Habitat Protection and Restoration Program, will result in the protection of 646 acres of high priority wetland habitat complexes in Minnesota’s Prairie and Forest-Prairie Transition areas by securing permanent conservation easements within scientifically prioritized habitat complexes. The Minnesota Land Trust will use its innovative landowner bid model to maximize conservation benefit and financial leverage in protection project selection. In addition, an expanding partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Land Trust will restore/enhance 745 acres of wetlands and associated prairies to benefit important waterfowl and SGCN populations.
Wetlands and shallow lakes provide the essential backbone for the survival of waterfowl and other important wildlife species. In fact, more than 50% of Minnesota’s Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) use wetlands during their life cycle. Most of the plans developed to protect Minnesota’s wildlife—including Minnesota’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, the Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan, and the Long Range Duck Recovery Plan—cite the protection and restoration of the state’s remaining wetlands as one of the top priorities to achieve the State’s conservation goals. Moreover, these plans cite the use of conservation easements on private lands as one of the primary strategies to protect important wetland and shallow lake habitat. Minnesota Land Trust’s Wetlands Habitat Protection Program area extends from Meeker northwest to Becker County, located along a vast glacial moraine system at the edge of the of western Minnesota. This prairie pothole country is the core of Minnesota’s “duck factory” and is central to one of North America’s most important flyways for migratory waterfowl. Through Phases 1 and 2 of this program, the Land Trust has procured 10 conservation easements protecting nearly 1,800 acres of habitat and 70,000 feet of shoreline, with more on the way. Phase 3 will build on these accomplishments by broadening the Program’s focus to include – along with wetland protection – habitat restoration and enhancement. Through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, the Land Trust will restore/enhance 745 acres of important prairie and wetland habitat on private lands already protected within the Program area. In addition, the Land Trust will protect 646 acres of new priority wetland and associated upland habitat through conservation easements. The Program will be closely coordinated with other public agencies, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to ensure this Program meets multi-agency conservation goals. The Land Trust will continue to implement a criteria-based ranking system and market approach for purchasing conservation easements. The Program will continue to target projects that help complete gaps in existing public ownership, are of the highest ecological value, and provide the greatest leverage to the state. The Land Trust will seek donated easements in these areas whenever possible but also may purchase easements that help complete key complexes as necessary. To focus our easement protection work, we used the Prairie Plan and other data sets and plans to shape our Wetlands Program plan and identify important wetland complexes in this landscape based on the intersection of high-quality habitat, existing protected areas and restorable agricultural lands. These complexes include a mosaic of wetland, prairie/grassland, and forest habitats, as well as agricultural land. Outcomes from this project include: 1) healthy wetland habitat complexes and associated populations of waterfowl, upland birds, and SGCN; 2) improved water quality; 3) increased participation of private landowners in habitat conservation projects; and 3) enhancement of prior public investment in wetland and upland habitat protection.