“Acquiring Land and Creating Opportunities - A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘create new and expanded park and trail opportunities to satisfy current customers as well as to reach out to new ones’.
Strategic planning efforts guide the expenditure of Legacy funds towards desired outcomes which are derived from public and stakeholder input, research, analysis and input from a variety of experts and leadership. Parks and Trails planners conduct these efforts. Staffing levels were adjusted to complete this legacy work.
To address the problems caused by invasive species, the 1991 Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish the Invasive Species Program. The program is designed to implement actions to prevent the spread of invasive species and manage invasive aquatic plants and wild animals (Minnesota Statutes 84D).
The three primary goals of the DNR Invasive Species Program are to:
1. Prevent the introduction of new invasive species into Minnesota.
2. Prevent the spread of invasive species within Minnesota.
This project is studying the response of certain aquifers to groundwater pumping. Research involves an aquifer test, which is an experiment where a well is pumped at a known, constant, pumping rate; changes in groundwater levels and stream flows in the areas around the aquifer test site are observed while the well is being pumped. These tests help us understand how groundwater flows between aquifers, which are underground rock and sand layers that hold water.
The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.
Governor Mark Dayton's landmark buffer initiative was signed into law in 2015. The law establishes new perennial vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along rivers, streams, and ditches that will help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment. The new law provides flexibility and financial support for landowners to install and maintain buffers.
The DNR's role in Minnesota's new buffer law is to produce a statewide map of public waters and public ditches that require permanent vegetation buffers. The DNR is scheduled to produce these maps by July 2016.
The purpose of the DNR Wildlife Health Program is to monitor wildlife populations for diseases, to provide information to support management decisions based on accurate information, and to minimize negative ecological, recreational, and economic impacts.
“Connecting People to the Outdoors- A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘better develop Minnesota’s stewards of tomorrow through efforts to increase life-long participation in parks and trails.’
The Division of Parks and Trails (as directed by Chapter 172, Art. 3, Sec. 2, Subd. 3(c)) utilizes Conservation Corps of Minnesota services for restoration, maintenance, and other activities that supplement the ability to reach Legacy Fund goals. Budget associated with this program area capture an accounting of dollars that support CCM Summer Youth, Individual Placements, and special projects for park and trail renewal and development. Other dollars not accounted for in this program area are part of other PAT program areas and included as part of those budgets.
Deep, cold-water lakes have different physical properties and support different wildlife than their more numerous shallow counterparts. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is using this appropriation to conduct a study that will help identify, monitor, and predict the consequences of climate change and land use changes on water quality, habitat dynamics, and fish populations in deep, cold-water lakes.
“Coordinating with Partners- A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘enhance coordination across the large and complex network of public, private, and non-profit partners that support Minnesota’s parks and trails to ensure seamless, enjoyable park and trail experiences for Minnesotans.’
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 DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to convey valuable geologic and groundwater information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, private organizations and citizens.
The commissioner shall develop a ten-year strategic state parks and trails plan considering traditional funding and the funding available under the Minnesota Constitution, article XI, section 15. The plan shall incorporate the 25-year framework developed by the University of Minnesota Center for Changing Landscapes. (HF 1231, Art 3, Sec 2)
The DNR works with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health to determine the level of contamination from mercury and other harmful chemicals in fish from Minnesota's lakes and rivers and to track the success of efforts to reduce mercury pollution. Clean Water Legacy funding is being used to significantly increase (more than double) the number of lakes and rivers that are assessed for mercury contamination on an annual basis. Fish are collected during DNR fishery surveys, processed for laboratory testing, and analyzed for contaminants.
The Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council work with forest landowners, managers and loggers to implement a set of voluntary sustainable forest management guidelines that include water quality best management practices (BMPs) to ensure sustainable habitat, clean water, and productive forest soils, all contributing to healthy watersheds. This project will monitor the implementation of these forest management guidelines and BMPs on forested watersheds in MN.
Minnesota’s use of groundwater has increased over the last two decades. An increasing reliance on groundwater may not be a sustainable path for continued economic growth and development. The DNR is establishing three pilot groundwater management areas (GWMA) to help improve groundwater appropriation decisions and help groundwater users better understand and plan for future groundwater needs associated with economic development.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
DNR spent $140,689 to continue on-site field investigations to accelerate management of shallow lakes and adjacent wetland complexes and support the accomplishments of Ducks Unlimited through HCP 2c and 3c. Temporary field personnel (1 full time and up to 6 temporary) documented shallow lake habitat occurrence and quality. Habitat surveys were conducted on 171 lakes within seven HCP project areas. The lakes surveyed totaled over 82,831acres. The surveys were distributed more broadly than in the past with:
Pheasants Forever provides coordination, mapping, and data management for the Habitat 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 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.
This appropriation is enabling Ducks Unlimited to help state and federal wildlife conservation agencies protect and restore shallow lakes for waterfowl. Conservation easements will be acquired on approximately 150 acres of privately owned shoreland and up to 60 acres of lands previously converted for cropping will be restored back to wildlife habitat. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Beltrami, Douglas, Freeborn, Grant, Meeker, Pope, Stearns, Swift, and Wright counties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ducks Unlimited are working together to provide technical assistance to landowners that that will result in the protection of approximately 2,500 acres of prairies and wetlands in southern and western Minnesota. As a result of this appropriation, an estimated $4 million of additional funding for conservation is anticipated to be provided in match by the federal Wetland Reserve Program.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS The goal of this project was to improve habitat for waterfowl and other species that utilize wetlands on the Leech Lake Reservation in addition to analyzing a long term wild rice data set to determine if waterfowl numbers are influenced by rice abundance. A number of techniques were utilized to accomplish this work.
PROJECT OVERVIEW The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages over 2,135 state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and Aquatic Management Areas (AMA) containing over 1.3 million acres. This appropriation is enabling the DNR to develop an information system that will better facilitate the management of the state's WMAs and AMAs by helping to identify needs; prioritize, plan, and carry out related activities; track and assess results of activities; and make the information available to resource management professionals and the public.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS The impetus for this project was the need to better protect and manage functional lake ecosystems in Minnesota. There is widespread concern about the consequences of poorly planned development on water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Given the increased demands for water and shoreland, continued habitat fragmentation and loss of species diversity, protection of sensitive lakeshores is critical.
The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on the type and abundance of selected plants or animals. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) in streams to help determine whether these waterways are impacted by water pollution. The DNR has developed a similar tool for fish in lakes and is developing a tool for aquatic plants. Both are used to help the MPCA identify lakes that may be impacted by water pollution.