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.
Many of Minnesota's wetlands have been lost and the remainder degraded. Recent tiling and ditching have accelerated this situation. Through this proposal, shallow lakes and wetlands will be designed, constructed, and intensively managed to benefit wetland wildlife and Minnesota residents.
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.
We protected 22.3 miles of trout streams and 1.3 miles of lakeshore via easements (585 acres in total), and 7.4 miles (504 acres) of lakeshore through fee-title purchase. We enhanced shoreline habitat on 524 acres of riparian land, and instream habitat on 3.1 miles of trout streams and 0.5 miles of warmwater rivers.
This proposal will address a backlog of shallow lake and wetland habitat work that will otherwise go unfunded. These projects will address work called for in the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, Long Range Duck Recovery Plan, and Shallow Lakes plan.
With these funds we were able to restore, protect, and enhance 24,611 acres of native and restored grassland in Minnesota. Much of this work was done through the DNR Roving Crews, a new program funded with these dollars that has significantly increased the state's habitat management capabilities. In addition to these enhancement activities we were able to enroll acres in the DNR's Native Prairie Bank Easement Program as well as acquire acres for the SNA program.
This program will increase populations of a variety of game and non-game wildlife species by protecting and enhancing forest habitats on which wildlife depends. This program of on-the-ground forest conservation projects will amplify the wildlife value of forest communities on DNR administered forestlands. Our forest enhancement will treat 4,472 ac. These activities are not conducted as part of the DNR's commercial timber operations. Additionally, our program will acquire 404 acres of forestland that contributes to habitat complexes and other high priorities.
Accomplishments of the appropriation include: i) protection of 3.9 miles of shoreline; ii) modification of 4 lake outlet structures to allow fish passage, benefiting 1,264 acres; iii) enhanced river and stream functions at 15 sites, benefiting over 17 river miles; and iv) enhance 4.5 miles of shoreline habitat on publicly-owned lakeshore.
The table below provides a short summary of the acres and sites accomplished. We enhanced or restored 59,495 acres in 458 separate habitat projects.Project Type # Sites # AcresFencing for conserv grazing 6 721grassland conversion 33 1,124Invasive Species Control 43 1,599mowing 3 104Prescribed burn 214 48,368Restoration 13 123Woody Removal 146 7,457
The proposal was to accelerate the protection of 1,275 acres of prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat as State Wildlife Management Areas open to public hunting. However, over the course of the appropriation, we acquired 10 parcels for a total of 1,498 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 1,275 acres by 223 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we exceed our acre goal for the metropolitan area by 97 acres.
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.
With funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and other leveraged sources, the Anoka Sand Plain Partnership restored/enhanced 1,866 acres of priority wildlife habitat within the Anoka Sand Plain and in the Rum River watershed in east-central Minnesota.
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.
Good habitat is critical to sustaining quality fish populations in both lakes and rivers. DNR proposes to restore or enhance aquatic habitat under two programs: stream restoration, and Aquatic Management Area (AMA) enhancement. Stream restoration includes major channel restorations and fish passage projects such as dam removals intended to improve or provide access to critical aquatic habitats.
This programmatic request will build on the DNR’s previous efforts to enhance and restore grasslands, prairies, and savannas. We will use the Prairie Conservation Plan and Pheasant Summit Action Plan to guide these efforts in a strategic and targeted manner. This proposal will work on a number of types of permanently protected habitats, most of which are open to public hunting, including; DNR WMAs, SNAs, AMAs, Prairie Bank Easements, State Forests, as well as USFWS WPAs and Refuges.
We propose continued efforts to restore and enhance prairies, grasslands, and savannas on state protected lands (WMA, SNA, Native Prairie Bank) as well as on bluff prairies on State Forest lands in southeastern Minnesota.
This project used a combination of invasive tree removal, seeding, and prescribed fire to improve habitat quality, diversity, and productivity on public lands in Minnesota. As we lose habitat to conversion and encroachment, it is increasingly important to maximize wildlife production on existing permanently protected lands. Today's public lands are expected to function at the highest level for not only wildlife usability but now also for other non game rare and threatened species, pollinators, and for water quality efforts in the state.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) 2009 work program focused on 6 habitat restoration projects totaling 3,664 acres (3,118-ENRTF funds; 546-other funds). Additional details, beyond the short summary below, are found in the more detailed reporting provided for each project.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The objective of this project was to accelerate Ducks Unlimited (DU) bio-engineering assistance to help agencies design and construct enhancement projects on shallow lakes for waterfowl using water control structures. DU biologists and engineers provided technical assistance to Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and private landowners around shallow lakes with a goal of:
An estimated 200 acres of lands acquired through this phase of the Habitat Corridors Partnership are expected to be transferred to the state for designation as Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using these funds to conduct habitat restoration on these new WMA lands, as well as develop the infrastructure necessary for public access to them.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is coordinating efforts to improve habitat for aquatic species and protect water quality on lakes, streams, and their surrounding sensitive shorelands. A total of up to 3.5 miles or 35 acres of water bodies in Kandiyohi, Otter Tail, Rice, or Stevens Counties are expected to benefit from restoration activities including installation of aeration systems, development of spawning areas, installation of native vegetation, and stabilization of stream banks.
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.
This on-going program is for detecting, mapping and controlling invasive plant species and re-establishing native vegetation in their place on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Trails. Control of invasive plant species furthers progress to preserve and restore the quality of native plant communities on Parks and Trails lands as well as helps prevent the spread of invasives to new locations.
These funds will enable Great River Greening to restore approximately 121 acres of permanently protected forests, savanna, prairie, and wetland habitat and 0.18 miles of shoreland habitat while engaging hundreds of volunteers in the stewardship of the Metropolitan area's remaining natural areas. Specific activities include invasive species control, seeding/planting, prescribed burning, and other associated activities.
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.