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.
Evaluate routing, safety, water management and other environmental and design issues of the Superior Hiking Trail and establish SHTA best practices methods for carrying out the resulting redesign plans.
New and innovatively designed greenhouse facilities have the potential to provide sustainable food, fuel, and other products year round by utilizing ecological processes and other practices to integrate production of fish, plants, and algae in a low input, self-sustainable system. The City of Silver Bay and researchers at the University of Minnesota – Duluth are using this appropriation to expand and enhance a demonstration greenhouse facility. Refined techniques developed at the facility have the potential to be transferred and replicated at similar facilities throughout the state.
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is working within the Leech Lake Reservation boundaries to address loss and degradation of aquatic habitat for wild rice and waterfowl. Efforts will include regulating water levels on shallow lakes by controlling beaver activity and conducting periodic water level draw-downs, reseeding of approximately 200 acres of wild rice, and implementing adaptive management based on analysis of wild rice productivity.
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.
Woody biomass energy systems have shown themselves to offer more locally-based, stable energy supplies for some communities. Itasca Community College is using this appropriation to design a renewable energy system based on woody biomass that will serve as a demonstration and educational tool in the region.
Running through the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota, the Mesabi Trail provides a recreational and alternate transportation corridor for hikers, bikers, skiers, and horseback riders, as well as some designated snow snowmobile use areas. When completed the trail will include 145 paved miles extending from the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Ely – 115 miles have been finished to date. The St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority are using this appropriation to develop 11 miles of trail segments near Vermilion State Park.
The Minnesota County Biological Survey (MCBS) is an ongoing effort begun in 1987 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that is systematically surveying, county-by-county, the state's natural habitats. The effort identifies significant natural areas and collects and interprets data on the status, distribution, and ecology of plants, animals, and native plant communities throughout the state. Through 2009 surveys have been completed in 74 of Minnesota's 87 counties and have added nearly 17,000 new records of rare features to the DNR's information systems.
Moose, one of Minnesota's prized wildlife species, are dying at much higher rates in Minnesota than elsewhere in North America. Recently observed increases in mortality rates amongst some moose in northeastern Minnesota have led to concern that the population there may be entering a decline like that seen in the northwestern part of the state, where moose populations fell from over 4,000 to fewer than 100 in less than 20 years. Additionally the specific causes of increased mortality amongst individual moose remain under investigation.
Prior to European settlement more than 18 million acres of prairie covered Minnesota. Today less than 1% of that native prairie remains, and about half of those remaining acres are in private landownership without any formal protection currently in place. Through this appropriation the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will work with private landowners of high quality native prairie sites to protect remaining native prairie using a variety of tools. Approximately 200 acres are expected to be permanently protected through Native Prairie Bank conservation easements.
A partnership among the City of Baxter, Brainerd Public Schools, Camp Ripley Sentinel Landscape program and The Conservation Fund will acquire 200 acres of riparian forest on the upper Mississippi River Headwaters.
Project Overview Minnesota, which was recently named "Best Trails State" in the country, is host to numerous state trails providing a variety of different outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the state. This appropriation is allowing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to acquire land expanding two of these state trails: the Brown's Creek segment of the Willard Munger Trail in Washington County and the Paul Bunyan Trail along Lake Bemidji.