Many of Minnesota's wetlands have been lost and the remainder degraded. The original proposal planned for 15,000 acres of wetland/shallow lake enhancement to provide critical habitat for each life stage of waterfowl and wetland wildlife. The six projects subsequently completed with this appropriation enhanced 13,800 acres of wetlands and shallow lakes in the Prarie and Forest/Prairie Ecosections of Minnestoa.
The proposal was to accelerate the protection of 1,220 acres of prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat as State Wildlife Management Areas open to public hunting. Over the course of the appropriation, we acquired 11 parcels for a total of 1,484.05 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 1,220 acres by 264.05 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we acquired 876 acres in the metro, 152 acres in the forest/prairie, and 456 acres in the prairie. We have a balance of $52,798 that will be returned to the Fund despite exceeding our acre goals.
The program was to accelerate the protection of 1,230 acres of prairie grassland, wetland, and other wildlife habitat as Waterfowl Production Areas open to public hunting in Minnesota. Over the course of the appropriation, we acquired 14 parcels for a total of 1,240.79 acres which exceeded our total acre goal of 1,230 acres by 10.79 acres. Breaking down acres by ecological section we acquired 160 acres in the forest/prairie and 1,080.79 acres in the prairie. We have a balance that will be returned to the Fund despite exceeding our acre goals.
“Acquiring Land and Creating Opportunities - A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘create new and expanded park and trail opportunities to satisfy current customers as well as to reach out to new ones’.
The occurrences of contaminants including antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in the environment have gained increasing attention in recent years because of their potential health and ecological impacts. However, serious gaps remain in our understanding of these contaminants and the significance of the threats they may pose, such as to drinking water. Through this appropriation scientists at the University of St.
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.
Garlic mustard is a non-native, invasive plant species that is severely threatening native plant communities and degrading wildlife habitat in forest and riparian zones throughout the state. The plant is considered the highest priority species for development of long-term management solutions such as biological control, which involves using natural enemies of a non-native species from its native region to control or reduce the impact of the species in the areas where they are invasive.
Permanently protected 496 acres (142% of our protect goal) within the Cannon River watershed; areas include wetlands, prairies, Big Woods forest, and shallow lake shoreline. This has reversed habitat loss, improved watershed function, and increased access to public lands.
“Connecting People to the Outdoors- A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘better develop Minnesota’s stewards of tomorrow through efforts to increase life-long participation in parks and trails.’
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.
The purchase of conservation easements—restrictions on land use that protect natural features while keeping land in private ownership—has proven to be an effective means to protect land at a lower initial cost than full state ownership. However, once an easement is purchased there are ongoing stewardship, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities necessary to ensure the terms of the agreement between the easement holder and the landowner are met.
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.
Terrestrial invasive plants such as buckthorn, wild parsnip, garlic mustard, and others are becoming widespread threats throughout many sites in Minnesota. Present chemical and mechanical control methods tend to be costly, effective only in the short-term, or have other negative environmental impacts. However, an alternative practice of using grazing animals for invasive species management is used successfully in many parts of the western United States.
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 Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1979 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This portion, called Part B and conducted by the DNR, analyzes water samples to understand water chemistry and sensitivity to pollution.
During this grant time frame, Dakota County was able to protect habitat through acquisition of seven parcels, totaling 409 acres. The fee title ownership of three of the parcels, totaling 197 acres, was transferred to the Minnesota DNR as part of establishing the new Hampton Woods Wildlife Management Area in Hampton and Castle Rock townships.
This is a legislatively mandated project. In order to receive $1,075,000 in water recreation account appropriations for enhancing public water access facilities in FY 2014 and FY 2015 respectively, the commissioner must develop design standards and best management practices specifically for improving water quality by avoiding shoreline erosion and runoff for water accesses.
Asian carp pose a real and serious threat to Minnesota’s aquatic ecosystems. While there are a few instances of individual carp being found in Minnesota waters, including the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers, it is not presently believed that there are significant established populations in the state. In order to quickly and effectively respond to threats posed by Asian carp in the future, though, detailed information about the fish themselves is needed.
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.
This program provides critical assistance to MN DNR Parks and Trails Division Regional and District offices to assist with renewal and rehabilitation efforts prioritized locally by field staff. Projects include the following types: State Park Building and Facilities Emergency Repair and Maintenance, Paved Trail Maintenance and Asset Preservation, and State Park and State Forest Trail Renewal. This project is a newly reorganized budget area that consolidates these three smaller project areas reported on in previous years.
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 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.
The Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council work with forest landowners, managers and loggers to implement a set of voluntary sustainable forest management guidelines that include water quality best management practices (BMPs) to ensure sustainable habitat, clean water, and productive forest soils, all contributing to healthy watersheds. This project will monitor the implementation of these forest management guidelines and BMPs on forested watersheds in MN.
Minnesota’s use of groundwater has increased over the last two decades. An increasing reliance on groundwater may not be a sustainable path for continued economic growth and development. The DNR is establishing three pilot groundwater management areas (GWMA) to help improve groundwater appropriation decisions and help groundwater users better understand and plan for future groundwater needs associated with economic development.
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.
The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on the type and abundance of selected plants or animals. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) in streams to help determine whether these waterways are impacted by water pollution. The DNR has developed a similar tool for fish in lakes and is developing a tool for aquatic plants. Both are used to help the MPCA identify lakes that may be impacted by water pollution.
The Lower Mississippi River Habitat Partnership included three distinct project components. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enhanced 700 acres of wetland and bottomland forest habitat on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge’s (Refuge) Root River Tract in Houston County.
“Maintaining Existing Holdings - A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan calls this ‘Take Care of What We Have,’ and identifies its purpose to ‘provide safe, high-quality park and trail experiences by regular re-investment in park and trail infrastructure, and natural resource management.’
Since 2000, a diverse group of partners has been collectively working in northwestern Minnesota on one of the largest prairie-wetland restorations in the world. Spanning 22,000 acres and adjacent to an additional 16,000 acres of public and private conservation land, the goal of the Glacial Ridge Project has been to demonstrate whether large-scale habitat restoration is a viable way to reduce flooding and improve water quality. Prior to beginning restoration efforts on the project, a comprehensive baseline hydrologic study of the area was completed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Friends of the Mississippi is using this appropriation to permanently protect six acres through fee title acquisition for addition to Fish Creek Natural Area near Maplewood, MN, and to restore and enhance approximately 134 acres of permanently protected prairie, savanna, wetland, and forest habitat in Dakota, Washington, Ramsey, and Hennepin counties. Specific restoration and enhancement activities will include updating management plans, soil preparation, prescribed burning, native vegetation installation, woody encroachment removal, and invasive species control.
These funds will enable Great River Greening to restore approximately 90 acres of permanently protected forests, savanna, prairie, and wetland habitat and 0.18 miles of shoreland habitat while engaging hundreds of volunteers in the stewardship of the Metropolitan area's remaining natural areas. Specific activities include invasive species control, seeding/planting, prescribed burning, and other associated activities.
Through this appropriation Dakota County plans to permanently protect approximately 27 acres of shoreland and contiguous upland in the Marcott Lakes area of Inver Grove Heights by securing a conservation easement from a willing landowner. For all acres protected, natural resource management plans will be prepared to ensure their long term stewardship. Additionally, restoration and enhancement activities are expected to occur on approximately 40 acres.
The Trust for Public Land is using this appropriation to purchase approximately 24 acres of land and 0.2 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 an areas around the Rum River in Anoka County, Lindstrom Natural Area in Chisago County, and Carnelian Creek and Keystone Woods area in Washington County.
With this appropriation, the Minnesota Land Trust plans to protect 100 acres of high quality forest, prairie, wetland, or shoreline 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 Chisago, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, and Washington counties.
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust is using this appropriation to purchase a total of approximately 100 acres of land and donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Many benefits are anticipated from this project, including improved habitat connectivity, protection of native species, improved water quality in the Minnesota River, and increased public access to natural lands for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing. Restoration and management plans will be completed for all acquired lands.
This project will establish a groundwater monitoring network in the 11 county metropolitan area. The network will provide information about aquifer characteristics and natural water trends by monitoring healthy aquifers (non-stressed systems). The project will also develop an automated system that captures groundwater level and water use data. This system will enhance evaluation of changes in aquifers that are stressed by pumping from existing wells.
Metro Big Rivers' restoration and enhancement partners (FMR and GRG) achieved their goals, converting through restoration a former rail yard in the urban core to 32 acres of prairie and enhancing 98 acres of prairie and forest at four other public conservation sites in the metropolitan area. The easement partner (MLT) exceeded goals and permanently protected 131 acres under two conservation easements in Washington County.