This proposal accelerates the protection of 1,030 acres of strategic prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitats as State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) open to public hunting. Pheasants Forever (PF) will be acquiring tracts that build onto or create a corridor between existing protected lands which will be transferred to the MN Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) to be included as a WMA. All acquisitions will occur within the prairie, prairie/forest transition, and metro planning regions. These areas have seen the greatest decline in upland and wetland habitat.
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 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 program accelerated the permanent protection of 2,267 acres of wetlands (465 acres) and grasslands (1,802 acres) as Waterfowl Production Areas open to public hunting in Minnesota. Over the course of the appropriation, PF acquired 18 parcels for a total of 2,267 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 2,250 acres by 17 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we exceeded our acre goal for both the metropolitan area by 61 acres and in the prairie area by 346 acres. We have exceeded anticipated match of $5,125,000 by $771,500.
This Phase 6 request for Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes program will enhance 1,000 acres of shallow lakes and restore 50 acres of small wetlands by engineering and installing water control structures for Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on public lands and wetlands under easement. Structures will be used by DNR and Service partners to restore wetland hydrology and actively manage shallow lake water levels to enhance their ecology for ducks, other birds, and hunters in the Prairie Region of Minnesota.
Phase 4 of our ongoing Living Lakes program will enhance 4,000 acres of shallow lakes and wetlands for waterfowl in the Prairie, Transition, and Metro Sections in partnership with Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other agencies.
Phase 2 of Ducks Unlimited's ongoing engineering program restored and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands by installing water level control structures to improve aquatic plant abundance and water clarity in partnership with the Minnesota DNR and U.S.
This Phase 5 request for Ducks Unlimited's Living Lakes program will enhance 2,000 acres of shallow lakes and restore 50 acres of small wetlands by engineering and installing water control structures for Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on public lands and wetlands under easement. Structures will be used by DNR and Service partners to restore wetland hydrology and actively manage shallow lake water levels to enhance their ecology for ducks, other birds, and hunters in the Prairie Region of Minnesota.
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.
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.
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.
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 100 acres of high quality forest, prairie, wetland, or shoreline 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 Chisago, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, and Washington counties.
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust is using this appropriation to purchase a total of approximately 100 acres of land and donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Many benefits are anticipated from this project, including improved habitat connectivity, protection of native species, improved water quality in the Minnesota River, and increased public access to natural lands for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing. Restoration and management plans will be completed for all acquired lands.
Metro Big Rivers Phase 8 will protect 100 acres in fee title and 130 acres in permanent conservation easement, and enhance 700 acres of priority habitat in the big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area. MBR partners will leverage the OHF appropriation by at least 40% with partner funds, private funds, local government contributions and Clean Water Funds, as well as landowner donations of easement value. Significant volunteer engagement will be invested in many habitat enhancement activities, although not technically counted as leverage.
Metro Big Rivers Phase 3 protected 67 acres of significant habitat along more than 1 mile of the Mississippi River, restored 8 acres of prairie and enhanced 495 acres of priority habitat (47 wetland acres, 50 prairie acres and 398 forest acres) in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area.
Metro Big Rivers Phase 5 will protect in fee title 215 acres, protect in conservation easement 175 acres, and enhance 229 acres of priority habitat within the big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area.
With this final report, Metro Big Rivers Phase 2 is complete and significantly exceeded its original acreage targets of protecting, restoring and enhancing priority wildlife habitat within the three big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area. Specifically:
* Metro Big Rivers 2 planned to protect 733 acres, but actually protected 1,430 acres.
* Metro Big Rivers 2 planned to restore 15 acres and enhance 135 acres, but actually restored 15 acres and enhanced 178 acres.
Phase 1 of the Metro Big Rivers Habitat Program protected 194 acres of critical habitat (173 acres by fee title acquisition and 21 acres by conservation easement) and enhanced 357 acres, all in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area.
Metro Big Rivers' restoration and enhancement partners (FMR and GRG) achieved their goals, converting through restoration a former rail yard in the urban core to 32 acres of prairie and enhancing 98 acres of prairie and forest at four other public conservation sites in the metropolitan area. The easement partner (MLT) exceeded goals and permanently protected 131 acres under two conservation easements in Washington County.
Metro Big Rivers Phase 7 will protect 280 acres (180 acres fee title and 100 acres conservation easement), restore 164 acres and enhance 613 acres of priority habitat in the big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area.
Metro Big Rivers Phase 6 will protect 245 acres (145 acres fee title and 100 acres conservation easement), restore 81 acres and enhance 489 acres of priority habitat in the big rivers corridors in the Metropolitan Urbanizing Area.
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.
Pollinators play a key role in ecosystem function and in agriculture, including thousands of native plants and more than one hundred U.S. crops that either need or benefit from pollinators. However, pollinators are in dramatic decline in Minnesota and throughout the country. The causes of the decline are not completely understood, but identified factors include loss of nesting sites, fewer flowers, increased disease, and increased pesticide use. Developing an aware, informed citizenry that understands this issue is one key to finding and implementing solutions to counteract these factors.
This Phase 7 request for Ducks Unlimited’s land acquisition and restoration program. DU will acquire and restore 550 acres of prairie and wetlands on state Wildlife Management Areas and managed shallow lakes in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota for transfer to the Minnesota DNR for inclusion in the WMA system. This land acquisition and restoration work will focus on land that buffers shallow lakes and wetlands, and restores breeding habitat for ducks and other prairie wildlife.
This Phase 6 request for Ducks Unlimited's land protection and restoration program will acquire and restore 600 acres of prairie land on shallow lakes and prairie land with restorable wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota for transfer to the Minnesota DNR for inclusion in the state Wildlife Management Area system. This land acquisition and restoration work will focus on land that buffers shallow lakes and provides breeding habitat for ducks and other prairie wildlife.
Ducks Unlimited's Phase 5 land program will acquire and restore 600 acres of prairie land and wetlands for inclusion in state Wildlife Management Areas for Minnesota DNR, with focus on restorable prairie lands and wetlands, and land buffering shallow lakes.
Ducks Unlimited's Phase 4 program will strive to acquire and restore approximately 900 acres of prairie land and wetlands for inclusion in Minnesota DNR state Wildlife Management Areas, with strategic focus on land containing drained wetlands and bordering shallow lakes.