Grassland ecosystems evolved to depend on periodic disturbances, such as fire and grazing, to maintain their health and stability. Periodic disturbances help control invasive species, add nutrients back into the soil, germinate plant seeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and more. In Minnesota habitat managers have used fire as a disturbance tool for decades but the use of grazing has been much rarer, mostly because of a lack of necessary infrastructure such as fencing.
Terrestrial invasive plants such as buckthorn, wild parsnip, garlic mustard, and others are becoming widespread threats throughout many sites in Minnesota. Present chemical and mechanical control methods tend to be costly, effective only in the short-term, or have other negative environmental impacts. However, an alternative practice of using grazing animals for invasive species management is used successfully in many parts of the western United States.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1982 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program collects information on the geology of Minnesota to create maps and reports depicting the characteristics and pollution sensitivity of Minnesota's ground-water resources.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1979 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This portion, called Part B and conducted by the DNR, analyzes water samples to understand water chemistry and sensitivity to pollution.
Over 527,000 acres of unmanaged woodlands are being used for livestock grazing throughout Minnesota. Managing these grazed woodlands based on the use of best management practices can provide environmental and economic opportunities, including improved water quality, maximized forage production, and higher-quality timber. The best management practices involved are commonly used in other parts of the country with other types of ecosystems, but have not been widely adopted in Minnesota due to a lack of knowledge and experience with implementing them within the ecosystems of Minnesota.
With this appropriation, the Minnesota Land Trust plans to protect approximately 500 acres of critical shoreline habitat along Minnesota's lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams by securing permanent conservation easements and dedicating funds for their perpetual monitoring, management, and enforcement. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Otter Tail, Pope, and Wabasha counties.
With only 1% of Minnesota’s native prairie remaining, many prairie plant and animal species have dramatically declined. Of the 12 butterfly species native to Minnesota prairies, two species, the Poweshiek skipperling and the Dakota skipper, have already largely disappeared from the state and are proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act despite being historically among the most common prairie butterflies and having their historic ranges concentrated in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Land Trust provides coordination, mapping, and data management for the Metropolitan Conservation Corridors partnership. Funds are being used to coordinate the partnership, guide strategic outreach and implementation efforts, manage project data, and provide reporting and mapping of accomplishments.
These funds will enable Great River Greening to restore approximately 121 acres of permanently protected forests, savanna, prairie, and wetland habitat and 0.18 miles of shoreland habitat while engaging hundreds of volunteers in the stewardship of the Metropolitan area's remaining natural areas. Specific activities include invasive species control, seeding/planting, prescribed burning, and other associated activities.
The Trust for Public Land is using this appropriation to purchase approximately 30 acres of land and 0.3 miles of shoreline with high ecological value and then convey the land to state or local governments for long-term stewardship and protection. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding include areas around the Rum River and Rice Creek in Anoka County, Lindstrom Natural Area in Chisago County, Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area and Pike Lake in Scott County, and St. Croix/Fraconia-Scandia Scientific and Natural Area in Washington County.
With this appropriation, the Minnesota Land Trust plans to protect 150 acres of high quality forest, prairie, or wetland habitat by securing permanent conservation easements and dedicating funds for their perpetual monitoring, management, and enforcement. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Anoka, Carver, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Washington, and Wright counties.
Project Outcome and Results
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc. acquired 96 acres of priority lands in the Minnesota River Valley floodplain in Sibley County to expand the Jessenland Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Of the 96 acres acquired, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund paid for 90 acres and the Minnesota Valley Trust paid for 6 acres with nonprofit and other non-state funds.