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.
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.
There funds are enabling Pheasants Forever to acquire in fee title approximately 86 acres of habitat along the borders of existing Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) or Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) in LeSueur, Lincoln, or Rice counties and convey the lands to a public agency for long term stewardship and protection. These strategic acquisitions will leverage and expand the existing habitat, water quality, and recreation benefits already provided by existing protected lands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oftentimes water conservation efforts are directed toward impaired waters. However, it is much more cost-effective to protect habitat and water resources before they become degraded. The Nature Conservancy is using this appropriation to create a broader, long-term, watershed-based framework for proactively protecting habitat and water resources in southeast MN, specifically the Cannon River and Zumbro River watersheds, before they become degraded.
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.
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.