Over a three-month period in 2010, approximately five million barrels of oil was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and resulting in significant losses in fish and wildlife populations. A number of Minnesota's migratory bird species spend parts of their lives in the areas impacted by the spill and impacts on their populations in the state could become evident over time.
Appropriations to non-state entities must be made through a formal contract with a state entity that manages all of the funds for the project on a reimbursement basis. This appropriation to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) funds the expenses incurred by the DNR in contracting, contract management, and expense re-imbursement for most of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations made to non-state entities, including both new projects funded during the biennium and existing projects funded in previous bienniums.
Minnesota’s natural resource professional workforce is much less diverse than its citizenry and many other professional fields. The benefits of a more diverse workforce are many, including the ability of organizations to increase innovation and creativity, attract higher qualified candidate pools, and ensure services that meet the diverse interests and needs of all citizens.
Climate change has and will have profound effects on Minnesota’s economy, agriculture, tourism, and natural resources. While climate change is often discussed in the broader contexts of its potential impacts at a national or international level, research has shown that climate change education and behavior change happens more effectively when the issue is made local and relevant.
The average Minnesotan and even most natural resource managers are not skilled in plant identification, yet the ability to positively identify plants is crucial to a number of conservation activities, including identifying areas that need protection, recognizing new or existing invasive species, monitoring restoration projects, and delineating wetlands. The Minnesota Wildflowers project attempts to fill this need with a free web-based field guide ultimately aimed at providing profiles for each of the over 2,100 vascular plant species in Minnesota.
Pheasants Forever provides coordination, mapping, and data management for the Habitat Corridors Partnership. Funds are being used to coordinate the partnership, guide strategic outreach and implementation efforts, manage project data, and provide reporting and mapping of accomplishments.
The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe is working within the Leech Lake Reservation boundaries to address loss and degradation of aquatic habitat for wild rice and waterfowl. Efforts will include regulating water levels on shallow lakes by controlling beaver activity and conducting periodic water level draw-downs, reseeding of approximately 200 acres of wild rice, and implementing adaptive management based on analysis of wild rice productivity.
An estimated 200 acres of lands acquired through this phase of the Habitat Corridors Partnership are expected to be transferred to the state for designation as Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using these funds to conduct habitat restoration on these new WMA lands, as well as develop the infrastructure necessary for public access to them.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is coordinating efforts to improve habitat for aquatic species and protect water quality on lakes, streams, and their surrounding sensitive shorelands. A total of up to 3.5 miles or 35 acres of water bodies in Kandiyohi, Otter Tail, Rice, or Stevens Counties are expected to benefit from restoration activities including installation of aeration systems, development of spawning areas, installation of native vegetation, and stabilization of stream banks.
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 appropriation is enabling Ducks Unlimited to help state and federal wildlife conservation agencies protect and restore shallow lakes for waterfowl. Conservation easements will be acquired on approximately 150 acres of privately owned shoreland and up to 60 acres of lands previously converted for cropping will be restored back to wildlife habitat. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Beltrami, Douglas, Freeborn, Grant, Meeker, Pope, Stearns, Swift, and Wright counties.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ducks Unlimited are working together to provide technical assistance to landowners that that will result in the protection of approximately 2,500 acres of prairies and wetlands in southern and western Minnesota. As a result of this appropriation, an estimated $4 million of additional funding for conservation is anticipated to be provided in match by the federal Wetland Reserve Program.
The Trust for Public Land is using this appropriation to acquire in fee title approximately 44 acres of high quality habitat and convey it the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for long-term stewardship and protection. Priority will be given to shoreland and other lands that provide natural buffers to water resources. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Hubbard, Kandiyohi, LeSueur, and Rice counties.
An estimated 400 acres acquired by other Habitat Corridors Partnership (HCP) partners is expected to be transferred to the DNR for long-term management during this phase of the partnership. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is using these funds to cover professional services costs associated with these property transfers.
Endocrine-disrupting contaminants such as environmental estrogens have been found and studied in large lakes and streams and shown to exist at concentrations that have adverse effects on wildlife. However, very little is known about the sources and effects of environmental estrogens in small, shallow lakes. Preliminary data suggests that these compounds are present in shallow lakes and have an effect on the survival and reproduction of wildlife. Researchers at the University of St.
PROJECT OVERVIEW The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages over 2,135 state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and Aquatic Management Areas (AMA) containing over 1.3 million acres. This appropriation is enabling the DNR to develop an information system that will better facilitate the management of the state's WMAs and AMAs by helping to identify needs; prioritize, plan, and carry out related activities; track and assess results of activities; and make the information available to resource management professionals and the public.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS The impetus for this project was the need to better protect and manage functional lake ecosystems in Minnesota. There is widespread concern about the consequences of poorly planned development on water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Given the increased demands for water and shoreland, continued habitat fragmentation and loss of species diversity, protection of sensitive lakeshores is critical.
Woody biomass energy systems have shown themselves to offer more locally-based, stable energy supplies for some communities. Itasca Community College is using this appropriation to design a renewable energy system based on woody biomass that will serve as a demonstration and educational tool in the region.
The Minnesota Land Trust provides coordination, mapping, and data management for the Metropolitan Conservation Corridors partnership. Funds are being used to coordinate the partnership, guide strategic outreach and implementation efforts, manage project data, and provide reporting and mapping of accomplishments.
The Trust for Public Land is using this appropriation to purchase approximately 30 acres of land and 0.3 miles of shoreline with high ecological value and then convey the land to state or local governments for long-term stewardship and protection. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding include areas around the Rum River and Rice Creek in Anoka County, Lindstrom Natural Area in Chisago County, Savage Fen Scientific and Natural Area and Pike Lake in Scott County, and St. Croix/Fraconia-Scandia Scientific and Natural Area in Washington County.
With this appropriation, the Minnesota Land Trust plans to protect 150 acres of high quality forest, prairie, or wetland habitat 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 Anoka, Carver, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Washington, and Wright counties.
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.
A state Breeding Bird Atlas is a comprehensive systematic field survey of the occurrence, distribution, diversity, and breeding status of bird species within every region of a state. Atlases are mainly used to set conservation priorities, develop conservation plans, and guide habitat protection, restoration, and management efforts – in addition to being useful for recreational bird watching. Minnesota is one of only seven states in the country that has yet to complete a Breeding Bird Atlas.
Moose, one of Minnesota's prized wildlife species, are dying at much higher rates in Minnesota than elsewhere in North America. Recently observed increases in mortality rates amongst some moose in northeastern Minnesota have led to concern that the population there may be entering a decline like that seen in the northwestern part of the state, where moose populations fell from over 4,000 to fewer than 100 in less than 20 years. Additionally the specific causes of increased mortality amongst individual moose remain under investigation.
The groundwater contained in confined glacial aquifers provides clean drinking water to many Minnesota residents. An important factor affecting the long-term sustainability of these aquifers is how water infiltrates through clayey deposits of overlying glacial till, which act as barriers to contaminants but also limit water flow and aquifer recharge. Very little is actually known about the properties and infiltration of water through till, which hinders the ability to accurately define the sustainability of these aquifers.
Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) Program is an effort to preserve and perpetuate the state’s ecological diversity and ensure that no single rare feature is lost from any region of the state. This includes landforms, fossil remains, plant and animal communities, rare and endangered species, and other unique biotic or geological features. These sites play an important role in scientific study, public education, and outdoor recreation.
Over the past several years six environmental learning centers located around the state - Audubon Center of the North Woods, Deep Portage Learning Center, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Laurentian Environmental Learning Center, Long Lake Conservation Center and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center – have been implementing demonstrations of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy on their campuses for use as educational tools for the thousands of students and visitors that come to the centers each year.
Natural springs occur throughout Minnesota and provide critical services for the state, such as creating trout streams and cool water fisheries, sustaining base flows in streams, creating unique ecological habitats, and maintaining the integrity of aquatic ecosystems against invasive species. In order to protect springs and the groundwater-dependent resources that depend on them, though, it is important to understand spring locations and status – information that is currently lacking in many areas of the state.