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.
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.
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 program protected 810 acres of new wildlife habitat in the Prairie, Deciduous Transition, and Southeast Bluffland ecological sections of Minnesota through fee title acquisition. Title of lands acquired are held by the State and are designated as WMAs.
This program protected and restored 734 acres of new wetland wildlife habitat in wetland complexes in Minnesota through fee title acquisition. Title of all lands acquired are held by the State and designated as Wildlife Management Area.
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.
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.
This program will increase populations of a variety of game and non-game wildlife species by protecting and enhancing forest habitats on which wildlife depends. This program of on-the-ground forest conservation projects will amplify the wildlife value of forest communities on DNR administered forestlands. Our forest enhancement will treat 4,472 ac. These activities are not conducted as part of the DNR's commercial timber operations. Additionally, our program will acquire 404 acres of forestland that contributes to habitat complexes and other high priorities.
Ducks Unlimited and Minnesota DNR Section of Wildlife completed 26 project affecting 7,603 acres, including three wetland restoration projects restoring 97 acres, 18 shallow lake enhancement projects enhancing 7,154 wetland acres, and five fee-title land acquisition projects protecting 352 acres.
Accomplishments of the appropriation include: i) protection of 3.9 miles of shoreline; ii) modification of 4 lake outlet structures to allow fish passage, benefiting 1,264 acres; iii) enhanced river and stream functions at 15 sites, benefiting over 17 river miles; and iv) enhance 4.5 miles of shoreline habitat on publicly-owned lakeshore.
The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.
This initiative protected 548 acres of habit in the blufflands region of southeastern Minnesota--an area that contains unique and ecologically important prairie, oak savanna and grassland habitat along with outstanding forested bluffs, woodlands, floodplains and cold water trout streams.
The I Can Camp! program provides people new to the outdoors with a safe and comfortable way to learn the basics of tent camping, through first-hand experience, providing all equipment and instruction, combined with conservation education and hands-on outdoor recreational skills activities. The DNR offered and conducted four, one-overnight workshops each week for a 10-week period from mid-June through the third week in August, 2010.
Many people are interested in paddling but don’t have the equipment or expertise to head out on their own. The “I Can Paddle!” program is designed to provide participants with first-hand opportunities to learn basic skills necessary for planning and taking a safe, fun and efficient canoe trip on both Minnesota’s lakes and rivers.
This program is designed to attract new audiences to Minnesota State Parks. Primarily young families and young adults that often look beyond state parks for their means of recreation, along with youth looking for an “extreme” or “adventure” experience. Programs will offer participants the opportunity to experience rock climbing, outdoors on real rock. This program targets the state’s climbing parks (Blue Mounds, Interstate and Tettegouche State Parks) by offering one “I Can Climb!” - rock climbing experience - every month from June to August at each of the climbing parks.
The I Can Camp! program provides people new to the outdoors with a safe and comfortable way to learn the basics of tent camping, through first-hand experience, providing all equipment and instruction, combined with conservation education and hands-on outdoor recreational skills activities. The DNR offered and conducted two, overnight workshops each week from June 4 through the September 4, 2011.
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.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1982 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program collects information on the geology of Minnesota to create maps and reports depicting the characteristics and pollution sensitivity of Minnesota's ground-water resources.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to convey valuable geologic and groundwater information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, private organizations and citizens. The MGS focuses on geology (Part A reports) and DNR focuses on groundwater (Part B reports). These provide useful information for projects completed by community planners, industry, agriculture, citizens and state agencies related to groundwater.
The commissioner shall develop a ten-year strategic state parks and trails plan considering traditional funding and the funding available under the Minnesota Constitution, article XI, section 15. The plan shall incorporate the 25-year framework developed by the University of Minnesota Center for Changing Landscapes. (HF 1231, Art 3, Sec 2)
The Division of Parks and Trails is creating innovative programs to attract new audiences, particularly young families, to Minnesota state parks and trails. Skill-building programs, such as "I Can Camp!," provide a trial opportunity by eliminating the barriers of needing to have pre-existing knowledge or gear for the activity. Special events, such as National Get Outdoors Day, generate enthusiasm and a sense of urgency to visit. Gateway programs introduce visitors to a host of outdoor pursuits, including those offered by other divisions of the Minnesota DNR.
The Division of Parks and Trails is providing expanded cross-country ski, snowshoe and other winter activities in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas; Minnesota state trails; and Minnesota state forests. The division is re-establishing trails that had been closed due to a lack of funding; enhanced a number of existing facilities by brushing, mowing or improving trail condition prior to snowfall. The division has also enhanced existing facilities by maintaining additional parking lots or staging areas and, in the case of trails, by providing winter grooming.
The objective of the project is to integrate Division-wide stand-alone datasets into a single information system that eliminates redundancies and inconsistencies and better meets the business requirements of the Division. Once completed, the information system will serve as the authoritative source of MN State Parks and Trails data for updates, maintenance, and reporting, and will be poised to take advantage of emerging technologies.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health to determine the level of contamination from mercury and other harmful chemicals in fish from Minnesota's lakes and rivers and to track the success of efforts to reduce mercury pollution. Clean Water Legacy funding is being used to significantly increase (more than double) the number of lakes and rivers that are assessed for mercury contamination on an annual basis. Fish are collected during DNR fishery surveys, processed for laboratory testing, and analyzed for contaminants.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The objective of this project was to accelerate Ducks Unlimited (DU) bio-engineering assistance to help agencies design and construct enhancement projects on shallow lakes for waterfowl using water control structures. DU biologists and engineers provided technical assistance to Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and private landowners around shallow lakes with a goal of: