Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered to permanently protect, restore and enhance 1,630 acres of grassland and 294 acres of wetland as Waterfowl Production Areas in Western and Southern Minnesota. All lands acquired will be owned and managed in perpetuity by the USFWS as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and open for public recreation.
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.
This proposal will accomplish shallow lake and wetland habitat work that will otherwise go unfunded. This work is called for in the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, Long Range Duck Recovery Plan, and Shallow Lakes plan.
The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program, managed by the Department of Natural Resources, provided 56 competitive matching grants to non-profit organizations and governments, appropriating all the available ML12 funds.
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.
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.
Phase 4 of our ongoing Living Lakes program will enhance 4,000 acres of shallow lakes and wetlands for waterfowl in the Prairie, Transition, and Metro Sections in partnership with Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and other agencies.
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.
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.
This proposal will accomplish 25,000 acres of shallow lake and wetland enhancement and restoration work throughout Minnesota, with a focus on the prairie region. The proposal is comprised of three components: (1) twenty-seven projects to engineer and/or construct wetland infrastructure or to enhance wetlands and shallow lakes; (2) funding for the existing Roving Habitat Crew in Region 4 to continue wetland and shallow lake enhancement work, and; (3) funding to base a new Shallow Lakes program specialist in Windom to accelerate shallow lakes work in the prairie region of SW Minnesota