The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Accelerated Prairie Grassland Restoration and Management Program had a successful first round of funding from the Legacy Funds. The program worked through the growing pains and obstacles in getting a new program up and operational and was successful in enhancing nearly 5,800 acres of prairie and grasslands in eight of the ecological subsections of Minnesota. A contractor base has been established for this type of work statewide that needs to be evaluated and expanded on for future appropriations.
This appropriation funded 283 projects totaling 21,953 acres. The two largest types of enhancement were 112 woody removal projects totaling 10,160 acres and 134 prescribed burns totaling 10,082 acres. Additionally, we seeded 30 sites totaling 1386 acres, put in infrastructure for conservation grazing of 236 acres on 3 sites, conducted 3 oak savanna enhancements totaling 42 acres, and treated 47 acres of invasive species on 2 sites.
The proposal was to accelerate the protection of 1,220 acres of prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat as State Wildlife Management Areas open to public hunting. Over the course of the appropriation, we acquired 11 parcels for a total of 1,484.05 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 1,220 acres by 264.05 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we acquired 876 acres in the metro, 152 acres in the forest/prairie, and 456 acres in the prairie. We have a balance of $52,798 that will be returned to the Fund despite exceeding our acre goals.
CMSM opened its new permanent site with increased capacity to serve as an informal learning center that playfully engages children, families, and school groups in interactive experiences with the art and cultural heritage of southern Minnesota. With its current appropriation, CMSM is poised to strengthen its core as an institution that promotes arts and cultural heritage learning through continued
CMSM will build upon the work that began with its 2015-16 appropriation by (1) Remediation and further development of exhibit areas that promote Arts & Cultural Heritage (ACH) learning (2) Expanding ACH learning opportunities for new audiences at off-site locations; (3) Engaging an outside Evaluation Consultant to help plan/implement strategies that meaningfully assess ACH learning outcomes and impacts; (4) Boosting the Museum’s capacity to serve more school/early learning groups.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) will complete the innovative community engagement process started with the previous Legacy grant. CMSM will build upon the progress created with the previous Legacy grant by transitioning the team's focus to carrying-out of strategic access strategies that engage a diversity of community members in the exhibit development process, resulting in the completion of fabrication plans for exhibits and environments that are accessible; engaging; and reflect the diverse art, culture, and heritage of southern Minnesota.
Building on the exhibit development community engagement process carried through three successive Legacy grants, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota used the 2013 direct appropriation to prepare for and begin building exhibit components for its permanent facility by combining professional museum expertise with local resources, volunteers, and community involvement.
Building on the exhibit development community engagement process carried out through four successive Legacy grants, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota will use the 2014-15 direct appropriation to complete fabrication and installation of several exhibit components for its permanent facility. Local resources, volunteers, and community involvement will be combined with museum expertise to complete this process.
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 Civics Education Coalition will create opportunities for students, enrich teacher capacity to engage students, and build state-wide networks. Work will include an interactive website, online youth summit, youth conference, new lessons for educators, teacher institutes, and expansion of the statewide Civic Education Network and its activities.
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.
This appropriation allowed the permanent protection of 887 acres in western Minnesota. These properties included 664 acres of remnant native prairie, 76 acres of associated wetlands complexes, and 8,500' of streamfront. For this phase we originally planned to protect 740 acres with a minimum of 375 native prairie. Both targets were exceeded - 120% of total acres and 177% of native prairie acres.
Phase Four of the MN Prairie Recovery Program resulted in a total of 1,707 acres protected, 37,567 acres enhanced, and 440 acres restored. When combined with Phases 1-3 of the Prairie Recovery Program we have cumulatively protected 5,777 acres, enhanced 95,701 acres and restored 754 acres using Outdoor Heritage Fund dollars. We will continue to implement subsequent Phases toward meeting the conservation goals described in the MN Prairie Conservation Plan.
Pheasants Forever, in cooperation with partners acquired and restored five parcels totaling 1,051 acres within Southern Minnesota and enrolled the parcels into the MNDNR WMA system. In addition, 66 acres of grassland enhancement was completed on existing WMAs.
Pheasants Forever and partners protected 1,020.7 acres of priority prairie grassland, wetland habitat as state wildlife management areas (WMA). In addition, acquired lands were restored and/or enhanced to prairie and/or wetland habitat. These WMAs will provide quality grassland/wetland habitat complexes that will benefit a myriad of game and non-game species and will provide public recreational opportunities for the citizens of Minnesota.
Adoption of renewable energy technologies and energy conservation practices can contribute in a variety of ways to the environmental and economic health of rural Minnesota communities through costs savings and emissions reductions. Engaging and coaching students as the leaders in the process of implementing such practices provides the added benefit of increasing knowledge, teaching about potential career paths, and developing leadership experience.