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.
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.
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.
Minnesota has 9.5 million acres of public forest lands that play an important role in sustaining Minnesota’s environment and economy. The policies and programs used by public timber sale programs can impact post-harvest ecological conditions and have pronounced effects on the composition, structure, and productivity of the forest in the future. Additionally, timber harvesting revenues play an important role in economic activity, employment, and tax revenue.
Over 527,000 acres of unmanaged woodlands are being used for livestock grazing throughout Minnesota. Managing these grazed woodlands based on the use of best management practices can provide environmental and economic opportunities, including improved water quality, maximized forage production, and higher-quality timber. The best management practices involved are commonly used in other parts of the country with other types of ecosystems, but have not been widely adopted in Minnesota due to a lack of knowledge and experience with implementing them within the ecosystems of Minnesota.
Minnesota has 15.9 million acres of forest land managed by a variety of county, state and federal agencies, and private landowners for timber production, wildlife habitat, and ecological considerations. Forest managers rely on inventory data to make effective planning and management decisions. Because forests are continually changing through natural and human processes, forest inventory data is periodically updated. However, doing so is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and, as a result, much of Minnesota’s forest inventory data is currently out of date.
The University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum is the largest and most diverse horticultural site in Minnesota. It features gardens and natural areas representative of Minnesota and the upper-Midwest that can be explored using several miles of trails. Additionally it conducts fruit and plant breeding research to develop cultivars that have particular desired characteristics, such as cold hardiness or disease resistance. The arboretum has a long-term goal of protecting the entire watershed of which it is a part.
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.
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.
Moose, one of Minnesota’s most iconic wildlife species, are dying at increasingly higher rates in Minnesota and there is uncertainty as to why. Estimates suggest the population declined 35 percent just between 2012 to 2013, and projections suggest moose could be nearly gone from the state by 2020 if this trend is not halted and, ideally, reversed.
Prior to European settlement more than 18 million acres of prairie covered Minnesota. Today less than 1% of that native prairie remains, and about half of those remaining acres are in private landownership without any formal protection currently in place. Through this appropriation the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will work with private landowners of high quality native prairie sites to protect remaining native prairie using a variety of tools. Approximately 200 acres are expected to be permanently protected through Native Prairie Bank conservation easements.
The Avon Hills area is a unique 65,000-acre glacial moraine landscape located in Stearns County just west of St. Cloud. It has been identified as having statewide ecological significance and includes the highest concentration of native plant communities in the county – including oak and maple-basswood forests, tamarack and mixed-hardwood swamps, and wet meadows – and several rare plants and animal species, including American ginseng, cerulean warbler, red-shouldered hawk, and Blanding’s turtle. This appropriation is being used by the St. John’s Arboretum at St.
Minnesota’s extensive state park and trail system, the second oldest in the country, is currently comprised of a total of 76 state parks and recreation areas and 13 state trails scattered throughout the state. Some of Minnesota’s state parks and trails have privately owned lands within the designated park boundaries or trail corridors. Purchase of these lands from willing landowners for addition to the state park and trail system makes them permanently available for public recreation and enjoyment and facilitates more efficient management.
Over the past 100 years, about half of Minnesota’s original 22 million acres of wetlands have been drained or filled. Some regions of the State have lost more than 90 percent of their original wetlands. The National Wetland Inventory, a program initiated in the 1970s, is an important tool used at all levels of government and by private industry, non-profit organizations, and private landowners for wetland regulation and management, land management and conservation planning, environmental impact assessment, and natural resource inventories.