This proposal accelerates the strategic permanent protection of 915 acres (220 wetlands and 695 grasslands) of Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) open to public hunting in Minnesota. Pheasants Forever (PF) will strategically acquire parcels that are adjacent to existing public land or create corridors between complexes. All acquisitions will occur in the prairie, prairie/forest transition, or metro regions.
This proposal accelerates the protection of 1,030 acres of strategic prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitats as State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) open to public hunting. Pheasants Forever (PF) will be acquiring tracts that build onto or create a corridor between existing protected lands which will be transferred to the MN Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) to be included as a WMA. All acquisitions will occur within the prairie, prairie/forest transition, and metro planning regions. These areas have seen the greatest decline in upland and wetland habitat.
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.
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 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
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.
Ducks Unlimited enhanced 6,882 wetland acres through the bio-engineering and installation of water control structures on managed shallow lake outlets for Minnesota DNR, and protected 76 wetland and 103 upland acres on a shallow lake through a purchased conservation easement.
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.
We propose restoration and enhancement of prairie and savanna on WMA’s, SNA’s, and Native Prairie Banks in Minnesota and restoration and enhancement of bluff prairies on State Forest Land in southeast Minnesota.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restore or enhance habitat to facilitate fish passage, restore degraded streams, and enhance habitat critical to fish and other aquatic life. Projects are prioritized based on ecological benefit, urgency, feasibility, and stakeholder support.
Acquire 910 acres of high priority habitats for designation as Wildlife Management Areas or Scientific & Natural Areas emphasizing Prairie Conservation Plan implementation and coordinating with partners. All lands will be open for public hunting, fishing and trapping.
Acquire 600 acres of high priority habitats for designation as Wildlife Management Area or Scientific and Natural Area emphasizing Prairie Conservation Plan implementation and coordinating with partners. All lands will be open for public hunting, fishing and trapping.
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.
This Phase 6 request for Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes program will enhance 1,000 acres of shallow lakes and restore 50 acres of small wetlands by engineering and installing water control structures for Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on public lands and wetlands under easement. Structures will be used by DNR and Service partners to restore wetland hydrology and actively manage shallow lake water levels to enhance their ecology for ducks, other birds, and hunters in the Prairie Region of Minnesota.
This Phase 5 request for Ducks Unlimited's Living Lakes program will enhance 2,000 acres of shallow lakes and restore 50 acres of small wetlands by engineering and installing water control structures for Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on public lands and wetlands under easement. Structures will be used by DNR and Service partners to restore wetland hydrology and actively manage shallow lake water levels to enhance their ecology for ducks, other birds, and hunters in the Prairie Region of Minnesota.
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.
Many lakes in Minnesota are classified as “impaired” for aquatic recreation and aquatic life as the result of nonpoint source pollution. These impairments can be addressed by the citizens that live by and have a vested interest in these water bodies, but there is often a lack of knowledge and resources to take effective action. The Freshwater Society is using this appropriation to train citizen groups in lake ecology and management in order to guide them in implementing water quality improvement projects for their local water bodies.
Phase 3 of the Wetland Habitat Protection and Restoration Program, will result in the protection of 646 acres of high priority wetland habitat complexes in Minnesota’s Prairie and Forest-Prairie Transition areas by securing permanent conservation easements within scientifically prioritized habitat complexes. The Minnesota Land Trust will use its innovative landowner bid model to maximize conservation benefit and financial leverage in protection project selection.
Fourteen conservation easements were completed by this program resulting in the protection of 1,962 acres of high quality wetland and associated upland habitat complexes and 78,596 feet (approximately 15 miles) of shoreland along priority lakes and rivers in west-central Minnesota. This program exceeded by 862 acres the amount proposed for the grant. Total leverage through donated easements by landowners is estimated at $1,209,700, all in excess of that proposed.