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.
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.
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 AgBMP Loan Program provides needed funding for local implementation of clean water practices at an extremely low cost, is unique in its structure and is not duplicated by any other source of funding.The AgBMP loan program provides 3% loans through local lenders to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses.
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.
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.
Provide education, outreach and civic engagement necessary for the development of structural and non-structural best management practices needed to improve water quality within the Greater Blue Earth River Basin. General Education will have a regional focus to landowners. Outreach effort will be focused on regional officials, staff and landowners. Civic engagement efforts will have a smaller watershed scale focus with efforts resulting in structural BMPs being placed on the land and non-structural BMPs being adopted. Implementation of structural best management practices on the land.
The purpose of this project is to develop a framework to implement best management practices (BMPs) on ditches in headwater areas utilizing a partnership between drainage staff and the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA). By replacing failing side-inlets with an alternative design, we can make strides towards our water quality and water quantity goals. The alternative inlets serve to prevent sediment and phosphorus from washing downstream and the design can also alleviate peak flows by temporarily storing stormwater.
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 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.
This program is a part of a comprehensive clean water strategy to prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; protect groundwater and wetlands. Specifically the Riparian Buffer Easement Program targets creating buffers on riparian lands adjacent to public waters, except wetlands. Through the Reinvest in Minnesota Program (RIM) and in partnership with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and private landowners, permanent conservation easements are purchased and buffers established.
The goal of this project is the continued development of an overall strategy for reduction of turbidity/TSS, with sets of sediment reduction initiatives and actions for various sources, to address the Minnesota River Turbidity TMDL and the South Metro Mississippi River TSS TMDL. The overall strategy will be used to help establish a path towards achieving the required reductions of turbidity/TSS.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin is a large area within the Watonwan, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth River watersheds. Recent research by University of Minnesota, the National Center for Earth Dynamics, and others has found this basin to be the largest contributor of sediment to Lake Pepin.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA), a nine County/SWCD JPO has identified buffers as a basin priority. This initiative will work towards the goal of identifying all DNR protected shoreland in the GBERBA counties without a 50 foot vegetative buffer. Buffer strips protect surface and groundwater from a multitude of pollutants. During stormwater run off events buffers can remove between 50 and 100 percent of nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, and sediment. The estimated sediment reduction for this project is 756 tons per year prevented from entering our waters.
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.