Pheasants Forever (PF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will cooperate to permanently restore and protect approximately 1397.31 acres as Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) in western and southern Minnesota. All lands acquired through this grant proposal will be owned and managed by the Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
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.
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.
This appropriation funded 283 projects totaling 21,953 acres. The two largest types of enhancement were 112 woody removal projects totaling 10,160 acres and 134 prescribed burns totaling 10,082 acres. Additionally, we seeded 30 sites totaling 1386 acres, put in infrastructure for conservation grazing of 236 acres on 3 sites, conducted 3 oak savanna enhancements totaling 42 acres, and treated 47 acres of invasive species on 2 sites.
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.
Strategic planning efforts guide the expenditure of Legacy funds towards desired outcomes which are derived from public and stakeholder input, research, analysis and input from a variety of experts and leadership. Parks and Trails planners conduct these efforts. Staffing levels were adjusted to complete this legacy work. Legacy funds have also substantially increased the numbers of projects completed each year. Design and project management levels of work have increased correspondingly. Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Parks and Trails staff conduct these efforts.
The goal of the Chippewa River Watershed Protection project is to protect unimpaired areas of the watershed. This will be accomplished through education and outreach with landowners and through implementation of best management practices.
The Division of Parks and Trails (as directed by Chapter 172, Art. 3, Sec. 2, Subd. 3(c)) utilizes Conservation Corps of Minnesota services for restoration, maintenance, and other activities that supplement the ability to reach Legacy Fund goals. Budget associated with this program area capture an accounting of dollars that support CCM Summer Youth, Individual Placements, and special projects for park and trail renewal and development. Other dollars not accounted for in this program area are part of other PAT program areas and included as part of those budgets.
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.
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.
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.
This on-going program is for detecting, mapping and controlling invasive plant species and re-establishing native vegetation in their place on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Trails. Control of invasive plant species furthers progress to preserve and restore the quality of native plant communities on Parks and Trails lands as well as helps prevent the spread of invasives to new locations.
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.
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 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.
The goals for this project were to: protect 1,200 acres native prairie/wetland/savanna; restore 250 acres prairie/wetland; enhance 6,000 acres grassland/savanna with fire, invasive species removal, and grazing; and continue a new prairie conservation model. This phase resulted in a total of 1,425 acres protected, 22,298 acres enhanced, and 110 acres restored. When combined with phases 1 and 2 of the Prairie Recovery Program we have cumulatively protected 4,070 acres, enhanced 58,134 acres and restored 314 acres using OHF funds.
Goals for Phase 2 of the MN Prairie Recovery Program were to: protect 1200 acres native prairie/savanna; restore 250 acres grassland; enhance 6000 acres grassland/savanna with fire, invasive species removal, and grazing; and continue a new prairie conservation model.
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 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.
This project works with local partners that implement conservation project to provide learning opportunities, technical help, and grants that result in cleaner water through healthier watersheds and shorelands. The DNR's natural resource experts help prioritize conservation areas and target project locations so they improve water quality while providing habitat and other benefits. Stream experts provide designs for stream projects that provide long-term stability by using natural features.
The Pomme de Terre River watershed is located in west central Minnesota and occupies a portion of six counties. For many years surface water quality within the watershed has been a concern to local government, and in 1982 the Counties and SWCDs within the watershed area formed the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity.The project partners are collaborating to improve surface water quality within the watershed with a grant from the Clean Water Fund.
The Pomme de Terre River watershed is located in west central Minnesota and occupies a portion of six counties. For many years surface water quality within the watershed has been a concern to local government. In 1982 the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board was formed to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity. This project is a continuation of a 2011 Clean Water Fund project.
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.
The DNR's Regional Clean Water Specialists and Area Hydrologists work with other state agencies and local partners to help identify the causes of pollution problems and determine the best strategies for fixing them. A statewide coordinator works with the DNR and external partners to ensure funds are spent in the most effective and efficient manner to meet the State's clean water goals.
The DNR provides technical support to watershed managers and landowners regarding drainage issues. Drainage experts are using a state of the art computer model to look at cumulative impacts of drainage and land-use practices and determine the benefits of site-specific best management practice. This work is with multiple partners and at multiple scales.