Many of Minnesota's wetlands have been lost and the remainder degraded. The original proposal planned for 15,000 acres of wetland/shallow lake enhancement to provide critical habitat for each life stage of waterfowl and wetland wildlife. The six projects subsequently completed with this appropriation enhanced 13,800 acres of wetlands and shallow lakes in the Prarie and Forest/Prairie Ecosections of Minnestoa.
The proposal was to accelerate the protection of 1,220 acres of prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat as State Wildlife Management Areas open to public hunting. Over the course of the appropriation, we acquired 11 parcels for a total of 1,484.05 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 1,220 acres by 264.05 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we acquired 876 acres in the metro, 152 acres in the forest/prairie, and 456 acres in the prairie. We have a balance of $52,798 that will be returned to the Fund despite exceeding our acre goals.
The Albert Lea Lake Management project replaced the previous Albert Lea Lake fix-crest dam with a 3-in-1 structure that included a rock riffle dam, a lake level management structure, and an electric fish barrier. The benefits from this project include improved aquatic and waterfowl habitat, invasive species management, and improved desirable fish populations.
Aquatic invasive species pose critical ecological and economic challenges for the entire state and beyond. They can cause irreparable harm to fisheries and aquatic habitat as well as damage to infrastructure. The problems posed by aquatic invasive species continue to grow as existing infestations expand and new exotic species arrive, most of which are poorly understood. New ideas and approaches are needed to develop real solutions.
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.
Bees play a key role in ecosystem function and in agriculture, including more than one hundred U.S. crops either need or benefit from pollinators. However, bee pollinators are in dramatic decline in Minnesota and throughout the country. One of the potential causes appears to be a scarcity of bee-friendly flowers, particularly in urban areas, which is leading to nutritional deficiencies, chronic exposure to pesticides, and debilitating diseases and parasites.
Permanently protected 496 acres (142% of our protect goal) within the Cannon River watershed; areas include wetlands, prairies, Big Woods forest, and shallow lake shoreline. This has reversed habitat loss, improved watershed function, and increased access to public lands.
The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program (CPL) is managed by the Department of Natural Resources to provide competitive matching grants of up to $400,000 to local, regional, state, and national non-profit organizations, including governments.
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.
Grassland ecosystems evolved to depend on periodic disturbances, such as fire and grazing, to maintain their health and stability. Periodic disturbances help control invasive species, add nutrients back into the soil, germinate plant seeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and more. In Minnesota habitat managers have used fire as a disturbance tool for decades but the use of grazing has been much rarer, mostly because of a lack of necessary infrastructure such as fencing.
Enrollment of private lands in conservation programs can provide important natural resource and other public benefits by taking the lands out of production so that they can provide various wildlife, water quality, and ecological benefits. This appropriation is enabling the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources to continue to provide grants to local soil and water conservation districts for employment of technical staff to assist private landowners in implementing conservation programs.
Seven conservation easements were completed by this program resulting in the protection of 911 acres of high quality wildlife habitat and 28,181 feet (approximately 5.38 miles) of critical shoreline along priority lakes and rivers of northeast Minnesota. This project outcome exceeded by 211 acres that proposed for the grant. Total leverage through donated easements by landowners is estimated at $948,500, all in excess of proposed.
This project will protect 730 acres of habitat along the Vermillion, Cannon and Mississppi Rivers, Marcott and Chub Lake and the largest privately owned forest in Dakota County through acquisition of conservation easements and fee title, as well as restore/enhance 350 acres.
DNR completed nine stream habitat projects with this appropriation. Four fish passage projects opened up access to 180 miles of river and 13,521 acres of lake and wetland habitat. We enhanced habitat on 39 Aquatic Management Areas, totalling 1440 acres, through the efforts of four positions funded by this appropriation. It also funded two stream habitat positions that oversaw the completion of 23 DNR projects and over 50 partner-lead projects funded by various OHF sources.
Our program will coordinate with partners, with emphasis on Prairie Conservation Plan implementation, and acquire priority lands for Wildlife Management Areas, Scientific and Natural Areas, and Native Prairie Bank easesments for public hunting, trapping and compatible outdoor uses consistent with the Outdoor Recreation Act.
The Frogtown area of St. Paul is a culturally diverse, low-income neighborhood having less green space per child than any other neighborhood in the city and was recently identified as an area in need of a new park. This appropriation is being used by The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the City of St. Paul, to acquire a portion of twelve acres of a currently vacant space in the area to establish the multi-purpose Frogtown Farm and Park.
This pilot project tested the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of acquiring grassland conservation easements and protected 459 acres of critical and threatened grassland habitat, through one MLT easement and two BWSR-RIM easements. Through partner coordination among BWSR, MLT, TCF and local SWCD's, this proposal contributed to implementation of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan.
No project funds were spent. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council did not request that any services be performed with project funds. Accordingly, the $50,000 appropriation will be returned to the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum is the largest and most diverse horticultural site in Minnesota. It features gardens and natural areas representative of Minnesota and the upper-Midwest that can be explored using several miles of trails. Additionally it conducts fruit and plant breeding research to develop cultivars that have particular desired characteristics, such as cold hardiness or disease resistance. The arboretum has a long-term goal of protecting the entire watershed of which it is a part.
The Lower Mississippi River Habitat Partnership included three distinct project components. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enhanced 700 acres of wetland and bottomland forest habitat on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge’s (Refuge) Root River Tract in Houston County.
Since 2000, a diverse group of partners has been collectively working in northwestern Minnesota on one of the largest prairie-wetland restorations in the world. Spanning 22,000 acres and adjacent to an additional 16,000 acres of public and private conservation land, the goal of the Glacial Ridge Project has been to demonstrate whether large-scale habitat restoration is a viable way to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Prior to beginning restoration efforts on the project, a comprehensive baseline hydrologic study of the area was completed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
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.
Through this appropriation Dakota County plans to permanently protect approximately 27 acres of shoreland and contiguous upland in the Marcott Lakes area of Inver Grove Heights by securing a conservation easement from a willing landowner. For all acres protected, natural resource management plans will be prepared to ensure their long term stewardship. Additionally, restoration and enhancement activities are expected to occur on approximately 40 acres.
The Trust for Public Land is using this appropriation to purchase approximately 24 acres of land and 0.2 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 an areas around the Rum River in Anoka County, Lindstrom Natural Area in Chisago County, and Carnelian Creek and Keystone Woods 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.
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust is using this appropriation to purchase a total of approximately 100 acres of land and donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Many benefits are anticipated from this project, including improved habitat connectivity, protection of native species, improved water quality in the Minnesota River, and increased public access to natural lands for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing. Restoration and management plans will be completed for all acquired lands.
Metro Big Rivers' restoration and enhancement partners (FMR and GRG) achieved their goals, converting through restoration a former rail yard in the urban core to 32 acres of prairie and enhancing 98 acres of prairie and forest at four other public conservation sites in the metropolitan area. The easement partner (MLT) exceeded goals and permanently protected 131 acres under two conservation easements in Washington County.
This project is was the third request of LSOHC to target riparian buffers for clean water and wildlife using the Reinvest In Minnesota easement program. The Clean Water Fund and OHF were be used in cooperation to secure priority buffers permanently. Five hundred and thirty three acres of enhanced wildlife and water quality buffers were protected with OHF dollars and a total of 1,208 acres were protected from all sources of funding.
The Arboretum, consistent with the priorities of the LSOHC, successfully purchased 78.13 acres in Victoria, Minnesota adjacent to Arboretum property. The purchase will ensure the protection of the deepest lake in Carver County and valuable habitat for future generations.
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.
Minnesota Trout Unlimited and our volunteers, chapters and partners will directly enhance habitat for fish and wildlife in and along thirteen coldwater streams located in existing Aquatic Management Areas and on existing public lands around the state.
The Minnesota Moose Habitat Collaborative enhances approximately 4,477 acres of moose habitat in northern forests of Northeastern Minnesota within Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties on county, state, federal and tribal lands.
Moose, one of Minnesota’s most iconic wildlife species, are dying at increasingly higher rates in Minnesota and there is uncertainty as to why. Estimates suggest the population declined 35 percent just between 2012 to 2013, and projections suggest moose could be nearly gone from the state by 2020 if this trend is not halted and, ideally, reversed.
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.
This program acquired 1 parcel for a total of 396 acres which fell short of our total acre goal of 410 acres by 14 acres. The Gun Lake parcel purchased in this appropriation illustrates how we are working together to protect only strategic habitat critical to improving sharp-tailed grouse populations. All acquired acres are within the northern forest region. We have a balance of $24,300 that will be returned to the Fund.
Construction was completed in 2018 on the three components that made up the major infrastructure project at Pelican Lake - construction of a gravity outlet, water control structure, and pump lift station. This work will allow for a drawdown and enhancement of Pelican Lake to return it to what was once one of the region's premier waterfowl and wetland wildlife habitats. Ducks Unlimited provided the engineering and construction oversight of this significant project.