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.
The purchase of conservation easements—restrictions on land use that protect natural features while keeping land in private ownership—has proven to be an effective means to protect land at a lower initial cost than full state ownership. However, once an easement is purchased there are ongoing stewardship, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities necessary to ensure the terms of the agreement between the easement holder and the landowner are met.
Appropriations to non-state entities must be made through a formal contract with a state entity that manages all of the funds for the project on a reimbursement basis. This appropriation to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) funds the expenses incurred by the DNR in contracting, contract management, and expense re-imbursement for most of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations made to non-state entities, including new projects funded during the biennium and existing projects funded in previous bienniums.
Minnesota’s natural resource professional workforce is much less diverse than its citizenry and many other professional fields. The benefits of a more diverse workforce are many, including the ability of organizations to increase innovation and creativity, attract higher qualified candidate pools, and ensure services that meet the diverse interests and needs of all citizens.
Climate change has and will have profound effects on Minnesota’s economy, agriculture, tourism, and natural resources. While climate change is often discussed in the broader contexts of its potential impacts at a national or international level, research has shown that climate change education and behavior change happens more effectively when the issue is made local and relevant.
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.
With only 1% of Minnesota’s native prairie remaining, many prairie plant and animal species have dramatically declined. Of the 12 butterfly species native to Minnesota prairies, two species, the Poweshiek skipperling and the Dakota skipper, have already largely disappeared from the state and are proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act despite being historically among the most common prairie butterflies and having their historic ranges concentrated in Minnesota.
Woody biomass energy systems have shown themselves to offer more locally-based, stable energy supplies for some communities. Itasca Community College is using this appropriation to design a renewable energy system based on woody biomass that will serve as a demonstration and educational tool in the region.
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 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.
Friends of the Mississippi is using this appropriation to permanently protect six acres through fee title acquisition for addition to Fish Creek Natural Area near Maplewood, MN, and to restore and enhance approximately 134 acres of permanently protected prairie, savanna, wetland, and forest habitat in Dakota, Washington, Ramsey, and Hennepin counties. Specific restoration and enhancement activities will include updating management plans, soil preparation, prescribed burning, native vegetation installation, woody encroachment removal, and invasive species control.
These funds will enable Great River Greening to restore approximately 90 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.
The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) is an ongoing effort begun in 1987 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that is systematically surveying, county-by-county, the state’s natural habitats. The effort identifies significant natural areas and collects and interprets data on the status, distribution, and ecology of plants, animals, and native plant communities throughout the state. To date, surveys have been completed in 81 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and nearly 20,000 records of rare features have been recorded.
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 Minnesota County Biological Survey (MCBS) is an ongoing effort begun in 1987 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that is systematically surveying, county-by-county, the state's natural habitats. The effort identifies significant natural areas and collects and interprets data on the status, distribution, and ecology of plants, animals, and native plant communities throughout the state. Through 2009 surveys have been completed in 74 of Minnesota's 87 counties and have added nearly 17,000 new records of rare features to the DNR's information systems.
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.
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.