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 average Minnesotan and even most natural resource managers are not skilled in plant identification, yet the ability to positively identify plants is crucial to a number of conservation activities, including identifying areas that need protection, recognizing new or existing invasive species, monitoring restoration projects, and delineating wetlands. The Minnesota Wildflowers project attempts to fill this need with a free web-based field guide ultimately aimed at providing profiles for each of the over 2,100 vascular plant species in Minnesota.
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.
A state Breeding Bird Atlas is a comprehensive systematic field survey of the occurrence, distribution, diversity, and breeding status of bird species within every region of a state. Atlases are mainly used to set conservation priorities, develop conservation plans, and guide habitat protection, restoration, and management efforts – in addition to being useful for recreational bird watching. Minnesota is one of only seven states in the country that has yet to complete a Breeding Bird Atlas.
The groundwater contained in confined glacial aquifers provides clean drinking water to many Minnesota residents. An important factor affecting the long-term sustainability of these aquifers is how water infiltrates through clayey deposits of overlying glacial till, which act as barriers to contaminants but also limit water flow and aquifer recharge. Very little is actually known about the properties and infiltration of water through till, which hinders the ability to accurately define the sustainability of these aquifers.
Minnesota's wetlands provide crucial habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, assist in flood control, and help maintain water quality. However, the state has lost half the wetlands that existed before European settlement and these drained wetlands have not been mapped as part of the National Wetlands Inventory. This appropriation is enabling efforts by Ducks Unlimited to provide a complement to the National Wetlands Inventory by identifying and mapping drained wetlands that have the potential to be restored to provide their various benefits once again.
Zebra mussels are an aquatic species that are invasive in Minnesota and severely threaten native fish and other aquatic species by disrupting food webs and damaging spawning habitat. Their range continues to expand within Minnesota lakes and rivers, where they are spread through the transporting of water, vegetation, or equipment from an infested water body. Once established zebra mussels are very difficult to control and there is an immediate need for safe and effective control measures to reduce their impacts in the state.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS This project identified and prioritized areas in the Zumbro River Watershed that were determined critical for restoring and protecting water quality. Studies suggested that small areas of the landscape contribute disproportionately to nonpoint source pollution. So implementation of conservation projects that focus on those areas will maximize water quality benefits and ensure efficient use of resources.