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.
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.
On many public lands in northwest Minnesota, cattail growth has far exceeded the distribution recommended for optimum wetland wildlife habitat and a need for cattail control has become recognized. Cattails have also recently been demonstrated to have bioenergy potential.
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.
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).
This program initiated strategies toward a 15-year goal to provide protection to the remaining 90,000 acres of native prairie/savanna, a 20-year goal to restore and protect an additional 500,000 acres of diverse grasslands/savannas, and a 10-year goal to increase management capacity to annually manage 300,000 acres of grassland and savannas per year. This proposal took the first steps to achieve these goals by initiating a comprehensive, coordinated and collaborative prairie conservation initiative. Annual investments by the LSOHC will be required to realize these ultimate outcomes.
This project will advance the prairie protection, restoration and enhancement goals established in the 2011 MN Prairie Conservation Plan. It builds upon the successful model established in Phases 1 - 6 and seeks to protect 200 acres in fee without PILT obligations to be held by The Nature Conservancy, protect an additional 100 acres with PILT for inclusion in the State's Wildlife Management or Scientific Natural Area systems, enhance 7,500 acres of permanently protected grasslands, and restore 100 acres of prairie habitat.
This project contributes to the goals of the MN Prairie Conservation Plan by protecting 800 acres of prairie/wetland/savanna habitat; restoring 150 acres prairie/wetland; and enhancing 6,000 acres of prairies, wetlands, grasslands and savanna.
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 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.
This project will advance the prairie protection, restoration and enhancement goals established in the 2011 MN Prairie Conservation Plan. It builds upon the successful model established in Phases 1 - 7 and seeks to protect 350 acres in fee without PILT obligations to be held by The Nature Conservancy, enhance 12,500 acres of permanently protected grasslands, and restore 100 acres of prairie and wetland habitat .
Phase Four of the MN Prairie Recovery Program resulted in a total of 1,707 acres protected, 37,567 acres enhanced, and 440 acres restored. When combined with Phases 1-3 of the Prairie Recovery Program we have cumulatively protected 5,777 acres, enhanced 95,701 acres and restored 754 acres using Outdoor Heritage Fund dollars. We will continue to implement subsequent Phases toward meeting the conservation goals described in the MN Prairie Conservation Plan.
This proposal contributes to the goals of the MN Prairie Conservation Plan by protecting 900 acres of native prairie/wetland/savanna; restoring 150 acres prairie/wetland; and enhancing 5,000 acres grassland/savanna. Fee-title acquisitions and enhancement projects will be targeted to prairie core and cooridor geographies as identified in the Plan.
The Prairie Chicken Habitat Partnership will permanently protect, restore, and enhance 650 acres of prairie chicken habitat in the Southern Red River Valley of Northwest Minnesota. Land protected will become either WMA or WPA and open to public recreation.