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.
Acquire 960 acres of high priority habitat for designation as Wildlife Management Area (Prairie Planning Section) or Scientific and Natural Area (Prairie and SE Forest Planning Sections) emphasizing Prairie Conservation Plan implementation and coordination with partners. All lands will be open for public hunting and fishing (where applicable). WMA accomplishment is based on $5,000 per acre and should be considered a minimum estimate.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restore or enhance habitat to facilitate fish passage, restore degraded streams, and enhance habitat critical to fish and other aquatic life. Projects are prioritized based on ecological benefit, urgency, feasibility, and stakeholder support.
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.
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.
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.
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.