MN Laws 2013, Chapter 52, Section 2 (beginning July 1, 2013)
For the next biennium (July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015), approximately $33.8 million is available each fiscal year (Total = $67,620,000) for funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. In response to the 2013 Request for Proposal, 169 proposals requesting a total of approximately $155 million were received. Through a competitive, multi-step process 66 of these proposals, requesting a total of $73 million, were chosen to present to the LCCMR and 46 of those proposals, totaling $38.2 million (all FY 2014 funds and part of the FY 2015 funds), were chosen to receive a recommendation for funding to the 2013 MN Legislature. The Legislature adopted all 46 of these project recommendations and added one additional project. All 47 appropriations were signed into law by the Governor on 05/09/13. $29.6 million remains availble for LCCMR funding recommendations to the ML 2014 Legislature.
NOTE: For all projects, contact us to obtain the most up-to-date work programs for current projects (project updates are required twice each year) or the final reports of completed projects.
When available, we have provided links to web sites related to the project. The sites linked to this page are not created, maintained, or endorsed by the LCCMR office or the Minnesota Legislature.
|Subd. 03 Natural Resource Data and Information|
|03a||Minnesota Biological Survey|
|03b||County Geologic Atlases - Part A|
|03c||County Geologic Atlas - Part B|
|03d||Updating the National Wetland Inventory for Minnesota - Phase IV|
|03e||Conservation Easement Stewardship Program - Phase III|
|03f||Harnessing Soudan Mine Microbes: Bioremediation, Bioenergy and Biocontrol - RESEARCH|
|03g||Improved Rapid Forest Ecosystem and Habitat Inventory|
|03h||Finding Disease Resistant Elm Trees in Minnesota - RESEARCH|
|03i||Enhancing Timber Sale Program Environmental and Economic Sustainability|
|03j||Enhancing Environmental and Economic Benefits of Woodland Grazing - RESEARCH|
|Subd. 04 Land, Habitat, Restoration, and Recreation|
|04a||State Parks and State Trails Land Acquisition|
|04b||Scientific and Natural Areas Restoration, Enhancement and Citizen Engagement|
|04c||Native Prairie Stewardship and Prairie Bank Easement Acquisition|
|04d||Metropolitan Conservation Corridors (MeCC) - Phase VII|
|04e||Landscape Arboretum Acquisition Lake Tamarack|
|04f||Conservation Program Technical Assistance|
|04g||Moose Habitat Restoration in Northeastern Minnesota - RESEARCH|
|04h||Bee Pollinator Habitat Enhancement|
|04i||Conservation Grazing to Improve Wildlife Habitat on Wildlife Management Areas|
|04j||Preserving the Avon Hills Landscape - Phase II|
|04k||Frogtown Farm and Park Acquisition|
|Subd. 05 Water Resources|
|05a||Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment - Phase II - RESEARCH|
|05b||Assessment of Natural Copper-Nickel Bedrocks on Water Quality - RESEARCH|
|05c||Heron Lake Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction Implementation Projects|
|05d||Southern Minnesota Lakes Restoration|
|05e||Measuring Hydrologic Benefits from Glacial Ridge Habitat Restoration - RESEARCH|
|05f||Evaluation of Lake Superior Water Quality Health - RESEARCH|
|05g||Membranes for Wastewater-Generated Hydrogen and Clean Water - RESEARCH|
|05h||Antibiotics in Minnesota Waters - Phase II - Mississippi River - RESEARCH|
|Subd. 06 Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species|
|06a||An Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center - RESEARCH|
|06b||Detection and Monitoring of Asian Carp Populations|
|06c||Improving Emerald Ash Borer Detection Efficacy for Control|
|06d||Elimination of Target Invasive Plant Species|
|06e||Biological Control of Garlic Mustard - RESEARCH|
|06f||Zebra Mussel Control Research and Evaluation in Minnesota Waters - RESEARCH|
|06g||Controlling Terrestrial Invasive Plants with Grazing Animals|
|Subd. 07 Environmental Education|
|07a||Minnesota Conservation Apprentice Academy|
|07b||Youth Outdoors: Mississippi River Education and Employment Opportunities|
|Subd. 08 Administration and Contract Management|
|08a||Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources|
|08b||Contract Agreement Reimbursement|
Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (TF)
500 Lafayette Rd
St Paul, MN 55155
$2,650,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for continuation of the Minnesota biological survey to provide a foundation for conserving biological diversity by systematically collecting, interpreting, monitoring, and delivering data on plant and animal distribution and ecology, native plant communities, and functional landscapes.
The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) is an ongoing effort begun in 1987 by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that is systematically surveying, county-by-county, the state's natural habitats. The effort identifies significant natural areas and collects and interprets data on the status, distribution, and ecology of plants, animals, and native plant communities throughout the state. To date, surveys have been completed in 81 of Minnesota's 87 counties and nearly 20,000 records of rare features have been recorded. MBS data is used by all levels of government in natural resource planning and use decisions, including prioritization of protection of park lands and scientific and natural areas. This appropriation will permit continuation of the survey in Lake, St. Louis, Clearwater, Beltrami, Lake of the Woods, and Koochiching counties. Additionally sites containing select native plant communities or select rare plant and animal populations will be monitored, conservation technical assistance will be provided, and interpretive products and publications will be developed to make the information useful to a variety of audiences.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The need to protect and manage functional ecological systems, including ecological processes and component organisms continues to accelerate with increased demands for land, water, and energy, continued habitat fragmentation, loss of species and genetic diversity, invasive species expansion, climate change, and other changing environmental conditions.
Since 1987 the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) has systematically collected, interpreted and delivered baseline data on the distribution and ecology of plants, animals, native plant communities, and functional landscapes. These data help prioritize actions to conserve and manage Minnesota's ecological systems and critical components of biological diversity.
Since July 2013, MBS contributed 1,326 new rare features records to the Rare Features Database, surveyed 72 lakes for rare plants and vegetation, and added 439 vegetation plots (releve) to the statewide database. Since 1987, MBS has added a total of 21,478 new rare feature records statewide; MBS botanists have documented 1,245 rare aquatic plants during targeted surveys of 1,983 lakes in 46 counties; MBS plant ecologists have contributed 5,392 of the 10,269 vegetation plot records in the DNR's releve database. Statewide 10,734 MBS sites of Biodiversity Significance and 83,913 polygons of native plant communities are now publically available on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons.
During this project period baseline surveys continued, focused in northern Minnesota (see map) within large functional landscapes of forests, peatlands, wetlands, and undeveloped lakes and streams. Highlights include helicopter-assisted field surveys of the most remote areas within northwest Minnesota's patterned peatlands, remote-access-only vegetation and botanical field surveys of the Border Lakes, and the discovery of a new state-record species of sedge, (Carex tincta), along with numerous other examples of new and expanded distribution data for native plant species.
MBS continued monitoring to measure the effectiveness of management and policy activities. For example, as part of DNR's forest certification high conservation value forest sites in southeastern Minnesota have been targeted as monitoring sites with field survey efforts focused on detailed rare plant surveys. This work provided updates to existing data that is often more than 20 years old, set a foundation from which to more precisely track target species' populations through time, and improved the relevance of MBS data to monitoring needs.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
MBS data are stored primarily in the Division of Ecological and Water Resources information systems, which are increasingly linked to other databases in the MN DNR. For example, MBS, in collaboration with other DNR partners, developed and operationalized a DNR-wide native plant community GIS database that integrates native plant community mapping by all DNR Divisions. In addition, MBS procedures, updates, recent maps, and links to related data are presented on the DNR website. Many MBS GIS datasets are delivered to clients through the Minnesota Geospatial Commons. MBS regularly provides vegetation plot data from the releve database to researchers at academic institutions and other agencies and organizations. Non-public rare species data are available through agreements with the requesting agency and the DNR.
MBS publishes and distributes survey results in a variety of formats for various audiences. Many products are available on the DNR website, including GIS shape files of native plant communities and MBS sites, native plant community field guides, and guides to sampling techniques such as vegetation plot data collection using the releve method. MBS web pages are updated with new information and have links to associated resources: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/mcbs/index.html.
The DNR and Legislative libraries and other local information repositories (such as libraries within counties) have access to published products, including books, maps, reports, field guides and digital media. MBS has published several books and field guides and the publication of a natural history book based on MBS data collected in the northwestern prairie region and Red River Valley is underway. Based on local collaborator interest and the results of regional focus groups, this book will include a guide to selected natural areas of the region. A Minnesota publisher has agreed to publish this book.
Staff routinely make presentations that describe MBS methodologies and results to a wide range of audiences including county boards, local planning groups, citizen advisory groups, other biologists, land managers, and students. MBS staff provide local planners with ecological interpretations describing important sites of biodiversity identified during the Survey to assist with management plans. Staff lead or participate in technical workshops and field trips to exchange ideas on survey methodology and provide training in the application and interpretation of the data. For example, in 2014-15, MBS botanists and plant ecologists in collaboration with partners delivered nine field workshops to over 200 natural resource professionals. These field workshops focused on plant identification, native plant community classification, and how these skills can be used to inform management decisions.
Physical collections are deposited at Minnesota repositories, primarily at the University of Minnesota's J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History and at the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul. As part of a larger network of museums and herbaria, these cooperators are essential to the documentation and sharing of MBS results. MBS and museum staff meet periodically to address curatorial, data management, and interpretive needs. During this project period, MBS deposited over 2,000 plant specimens to the Bell Museum Herbarium.
MBS also delivers data through an international organization, NatureServe, and also shares data with cooperators at colleges and universities and with others in ecological regions where surveys are ongoing or completed.
U of MN - Minnesota Geological Survey
2642 University Ave W
St. Paul, MN 55114-1057
|Phone:||(612) 627-4780 x2|
$1,200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to continue the acceleration of the production of county geologic atlases that define aquifer boundaries and the connection of aquifers to the land surface and surface water resources for the purpose of sustainable management of surface water and groundwater resources. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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 A and conducted by the Minnesota Geological Survey, collects geologic information to produce maps and databases that define aquifer boundaries and the connection of aquifers to the land surface and surface water resources. The information is used in planning and environmental protection efforts at all levels of government, by businesses, and by homeowners to ensure sound and sustainable planning, management, and protection of water resources used for drinking, agriculture, industry, and more. This appropriation will initiate Part A geologic atlases for three additional counties yet to be determined depending on county participation and other priorities.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Minnesota Geological Survey maps sediment and rock because these materials control where water can enter the subsurface (recharge), where and how much water can reside in the ground (aquifers), where the water re-emerges (discharge), and at what rates this movement occurs. This information is essential to managing the quality of our water and the quantity that can be sustainably pumped. This project completed geologic atlases for Meeker, Redwood, and Kanabec counties, and contributed to ongoing atlas work in Brown, Wadena, Becker, and Hubbard counties. Information about the geology is gleaned from the records of domestic wells, and from drilling conducted for this project. In Meeker County we used 3,600 wells and 6 cores, in Redwood we used 1,900 wells and 10 cores, in Brown County we used 1,700 wells and 8 cores, in Wadena County we used 2,787 wells and 3 cores, in Becker we used 8,887 wells and 5 cores, in Hubbard we are using 9,550 wells and 3 cores, and in Kanabec we used 4,055 wells and 7 cores. In all cases these are augmented with soil borings and geophysical surveys. From the data we created maps of the geology immediately beneath the soil; the aquifers within the glacial sediment; and the shape, elevation, and rock types of the bedrock surface. These maps and data support monitoring, wellhead protection, water appropriation, clean-ups, and water supply management.
In large portions of Redwood counties the glacial materials are relatively thin, and most of the bedrock types present do not provide much water. This makes the mapping of glacial sand bodies, which are potential aquifers, very important. In Becker, Hubbard, and Wadena counties the glacial deposits are the only viable water source. Irrigation is an important water use in those counties, and the atlas information will be useful in managing water for maximum benefit. In Meeker, Brown, and Kanabec counties, the glacial deposits vary in thickness, and the bedrock includes some formations that can serve as aquifers. In every county the database of well construction records we have compiled is an excellent indicator of which aquifers the population is currently relying on. Printed and digital versions of all these atlases will be delivered to LCCMR.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
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 A and conducted by the Minnesota Geological Survey, collects geologic information to produce maps and databases that define aquifer boundaries and the connection of aquifers to the land surface and surface water resources. The information is used in planning and environmental protection efforts at all levels of government, by businesses, and by homeowners to ensure sound and sustainable planning, management, and protection of water resources used for drinking, agriculture, industry, and more. This appropriation will initiate Part A geologic atlases for three additional counties yet to be determined depending on county participation and other priorities.
500 Lafayette Rd
St Paul, MN 55155-4032
$1,200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to continue the analysis and compilation of groundwater data for the production of county geologic atlases, publication of geospatial groundwater data, and continued mapping of springsheds and karst features for Winona and Houston Counties. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. The information is used in planning and environmental protection efforts at all levels of government, by businesses, and by homeowners to ensure sound and sustainable planning, management, and protection of water resources used for drinking, agriculture, industry, and more. This appropriation will continue or complete work on Part B geologic atlases for Blue Earth, Chisago, Nicollet, Sibley, Anoka, Wright, Renville, and Clay counties and potentially begin work on Part B atlases for Sherburne and Morrison counties. Additionally springshed mapping will be continued in the karst area of southeastern Minnesota in Winona, Houston, and Fillmore counties.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The County Geologic Atlas and Special Projects unit provides information about groundwater to help citizens and organizations improve sustainable management of groundwater resources. Delineated and mapped aquifers, recharge areas, and springsheds are essential information to help guide management decisions.
The County Geologic Atlas (CGA) Part B describes the hydrogeologic setting, water levels, chemistry, pollution sensitivity, and groundwater use in a county. It includes selected hydrogeologic cross sections indicating groundwater flow direction, residence time within aquifers and groundwater-surface water interactions. Completed counties that were partially funded by this project include Chisago, Nicollet, Sibley, Blue Earth, and Anoka. Also partially funded by this project, with plans to complete after June 30, 2017, are Renville, Clay, Sherburne, Wright, Houston, Winona, Morrison, and Meeker counties.
The Minnesota Hydrogeology Atlas (MHA) contains statewide thematic maps that have compiled information previously only available in the county format. This wider information is useful in multi-county or watershed evaluations. Statewide thematic maps include “Pollution Sensitivity of the Bedrock Surface” (HG-01), “Pollution Sensitivity of Near-Surface Materials” (HG-02), “Water-Table Elevation and Depth” (HG-03), and Minnesota Regions Prone to Surface Karst Feature Development (GW-01). Method documents (found on the Resources web page) include: “Methods to Estimate Near-Surface Pollution Sensitivity” (GW-03), and “Methods for Estimating Water-table Elevation and Depth to Water Table” (GW-04).
Springshed Mapping partial funding was provided to determine the size and nature of the land area contributing to groundwater and spring discharge. Studies are conducted by introducing dye into sinkholes or sinking streams and monitoring resurgences at nearby springs. Understanding the extent of springsheds is important for protection of numerous trout fisheries in southeastern Minnesota. Over 100 springshed mapping reports are now available on the “Dye Trace Reports” page. The current area of mapped springsheds in Minnesota is 348 square miles.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
This funding helps produce three types of products, found at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/groundwater_section/mapping/atlases.html and described as follows.
Activity 1 – County Geologic Atlas, Part B
DNR staff assisted with development and delivery of training sessions at four Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) conferences at various locations in the state in 2015 DNR presented information about CGA content and uses.
Activity 2 – Minnesota Hydrogeologic Atlas
Springshed mapping and preliminary MHA results were presented at the University of Minnesota Water Resources Conference in September 2015.
DNR CGA staff and others presented general groundwater education workshops to Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Duluth, Thief River, and St. Peter in 2016. The workshops provided examples of how to use the MHA products.
Activity 3 -- Springshed Mapping
The springshed work was the subject of a feature article in the March-April 2016 issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer (113,000 copies in print). The article emphasized the importance of land use management and the discovery that springs emanating from deep strata in the incised valleys of the Driftless Area can be connected to the land surface. The article is available on-line at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/groundwater_section/mapping/atlases.html
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 25
St Paul, MN 55155
$1,000,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to continue the update and enhancement of wetland inventory maps for Minnesota. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. The data behind the National Wetlands Inventory for Minnesota is now considerably out-of-date and a multi-phase, multi-agency collaborative effort coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is underway to update the data for the whole state. This appropriation is being used to conduct the fourth of six phases of this effort, which involves wetlands maps for portions of Lake, Cook, and St. Louis counties in northeastern Minnesota. A completed wetlands inventory will help improve wetland protection and management.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Updating the National Wetland Inventory (NWI) is a key component of the State's strategy to ensure healthy wetlands and clean water for Minnesota. This effort is a multi-agency collaborative under leadership of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These data are intended to replace the original 1980s NWI data. The NWI data provide a baseline for assessing the effectiveness of wetland policies and management actions. These data are used at all levels of government, as well as by private industry and non-profit organizations for wetland regulation and management, land use, conservation planning, environmental impact assessment, and natural resource inventories. The update project is being conducted in phases with data released for each region as it is finalized.
In this fourth phase of the overall effort, the DNR updated wetland inventory maps for 14,700 square miles in northeast Minnesota covering all of Lake, Cook, and St. Louis counties as well as portions of Carlton and Koochiching counties. The overall accuracy for wetland identification is 86%.
The updated NWI data was created in accordance with federal wetland mapping guidance. This update used spring aerial imagery acquired in 2009, summer imagery acquired in 2013, and lidar elevation data as well as other ancillary data. Quality assurance of the data included visual inspection, automated checks for attribute validity and consistency, as well as a formal accuracy assessment based on an independent field data. Further details on the methods employed can be found in the technical procedures document for this project located on the project website (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/wetlands/nwi_proj.html).PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
All wetland map data and aerial imagery are available free of charge to the public. The data have been made available through the Minnesota Geospatial Commons (https://gisdata.mn.gov/) as well as through an online wetland viewer (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/wetlands/map.html). A copy of the data has also been provided to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for inclusion in the national wetland database.
Use of the NWI data is being promoted through a variety of channels. The DNR has given presentations about the NWI data at both the Minnesota Water Resources Conference and the Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference. The DNR and MnGeo have presented at the Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference regarding the availability of the spring aerial imagery. A press release has also been drafted for an expected September release. A peer-reviewed journal article was published in the journal Wetlands based on the work from the previous NWI project phase and a book chapter has been prepared for an upcoming publication on wetland assessment.
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN 55155
$200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for the final phase to bring conservation easements held by the Department of Natural Resources up to minimum conservation standards, through monitoring, baseline data collection, and baseline report preparation.
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. Earlier efforts funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund in 2008 and 2011 allowed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to retroactively bring existing conservation easements up to minimum standards by developing a central inventory and management system of the conservation easements held by the DNR, along with a plan for how they would be administered into the future. This appropriation is the final phase of this effort allowing the DNR to continue and accelerate the implementation of the previously developed plan. Additionally, tools will be developed to enhance monitoring efficiency using remote sensing.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
This was the last phase of a three-phase project to establish procedures and tools to effectively monitor conservation easements held by the DNR. One project goal was to monitor and create baseline reports for 75 existing conservation easements-actual attainment was 85 easements. As detailed in the Phase III Supplemental Report, additional goals were to investigate the use of image processing software coupled with LiDAR and current imagery to improve the efficiency of conservation easement stewardship. Two areas were explored: 1) can these tools be used to accurately redraw stream centerlines after changes in stream courses; and 2) can remote sensing tools be written to automatically identify possible violations of easement terms? DNR trout stream easement boundaries are typically 66' from stream centerlines and move with stream course changes. It is essential to have accurate maps of easement boundaries for monitoring, but it is time consuming to edit boundaries manually. Staff created a novel approach to generate stream centerlines from LiDAR and adjust them with imagery where stream course changes had occurred. Tests of a 15km stream section demonstrated the accuracy and usefulness of this approach. Manual effort of 90 minutes to digitize the stream section was reduced to 11 minutes. In the second problem area, staff utilized eCognition image analysis software to classify land cover in easement corridors utilizing imagery with three levels of resolution and LiDAR and identify objects/conditions that could be easement violations. Staff concluded that to effectively monitor easements remotely would require image resolution no coarser than 6" and LiDAR that had been acquired at the same time. Possible violations identified in this fashion still need on-site verification, but this technique can highlight areas of concern and reduce on-site visit time. Tools developed in this project have potential application for statewide riparian buffer mapping and monitoring.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Results for Activity 1 of the project are being assembled in a fashion where they can be presented to personnel in Fish and Wildlife who are responsible for the maintenance of the stream centerline GIS layers for possible broader application. In addition, a presentation is being planned for BWSR and DNR personnel involved in mapping the public waters and ditches as part of the new 50 foot buffer legislation. There is potential for applying both the centerline and land cover techniques developed for this project to buffer mapping and monitoring.
Results for Activity 2, using tools developed in project phases I and II to visit 75 additional easements for the purposes of collecting baseline property information and creating those reports, was disseminated primarily to DNR management for the purposes of directing monitor efforts. One update was generated for the Conservation Easement Stewardship User Manual during the project for staff training use. During the project, wild and scenic river easement baseline property reports were signed and mailed to fee title owners of the properties.
Periodic project updates and preliminary results were presented to the Conservation Easement Stewardship committee for the purposes of gathering additional direction from that group during the project. A conservation easement stewardship cost calculator was disseminated to DNR fiscal staff. Information about the calculator was presented to the LCCMR on June 25, 2015.
U of MN
MMC 204, 516 Delaware St SE, 7-132 PWB
Minneapolis, MN 55455
$838,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to continue the characterization of unique microbes discovered in the Soudan Underground Mine State Park that have potential applications for metal remediation in water resources, microbial electrofuels, and biocontrol of white-nose bat syndrome. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
The Soudan Iron Mine near Ely, Minnesota is no longer an active mine and is now part of a state park, as well as the home to a state-of-the-art physics laboratory at the bottom of the mine. The mine has also been discovered to contain an extreme environment in the form of an ancient and very salty brine bubbling up from a half-mile below the Earth's surface through holes drilled when the mine was active. Strange microorganisms - part of an ecosystem never before characterized by science - have been found living in the brine. Scientists from the University of Minnesota will use this appropriation to continue to study this unique ecosystem and its organisms and build upon findings from a previous Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund supported effort to explore potential applications of using the microorganisms living there for removing metals from mine waters, producing biofuels, and developing a biocontrol for White-Nose Syndrome, which is decimating bat populations around the country.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Soudan Iron Mine in Minnesota provides direct access to microbes with special adaptations that can be harnessed for biotechnology. We conducted research to harness these microbes to approach some of the most critical environmental challenges in Minnesota:
Our goal was to explore the native fungi living in the mine. These fungi live in extremely harsh and variable chemical conditions, including high metal concentrations in water. Because the Soudan Iron Mine fungi have adapted to the conditions in the mine, they might possess properties that we can use for cleaning up metal-contaminated water. When we use plants or microorganisms (like fungi) to remove metals from water, it is termed bioremediation. We investigated mine fungi that thrive in heavily contaminated waters with metals such as copper, cobalt, zinc, nickel, and mercury. We isolated 1014 different strains of fungi representing 140 different taxa, including novel species. We screened 60 fungal isolates and discovered that several species accumulate metals within their living biomass. These findings confirmed that: (1) many Soudan Iron Mine fungal isolates have promising metal removal characteristics in solid and liquid growth conditions; (2) the amount of metal removed from water was similar between natural and lab specimens; and (3) metal binding can be reversed in some cases. These results can be used to develop a suite of bioremediation strategies using fungi as passive sorbent materials or in living self-regenerating bioreactor.
We characterized and developed methods for understanding two bacterial isolates from the Soudan Mine: Marinobacter subterrani and Desulfuromonas soudanensis. D. soudanensis is capable of producing electricity and dissolving rust in high salt concentrations, making it a very unusual organism. We sequenced and characterized its genome to better understand how electricity production works at high salt concentrations, a process that could be important for future applications in microbial bioremediation and desalination. We are currently in the process of developing a genetic system in D. soudanensis to further our understanding of how it generates electricity in high salt conditions. M. subterrani is a model for the study of metal precipitation, a process that, if better understood, could allow us to feed electricity directly into bacteria. These bacteria could then be engineered to produce desired products using electricity. Given the complexities of this biological process, we are still an early stage of understanding the fundamental pathway that enables metal precipitation. Our students working on these two projects have presented their work at national and international meetings and have produced 2 peer reviewed scientific manuscripts on their work as well.
White Nose Bat Syndrome Biological Control:
White Nose Syndrome is a devastating bat disease causing catastrophic economic and biodiversity losses throughout the US. Our primary goal was to identify microbes that inhibit the fungal pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans that could eventually be developed as a treatment in caves and mines. As part of this biocontrol strategy, we collected and screened new microbes from the Soudan Mine. In total, 32/121 fungal strains and 60/262 bacterial isolates inhibited growth of P. destructans. Analysis of active strains provided us with a picture of which types of inhibitory microbes may be found in various mine locations, which may help future screening and discovery efforts. With this library of nearly 100 antifungal strains, we are poised to move forward into phase II, which will involve testing the ability of each active strain to inhibit P. destructans on specific substrates both in the lab and in the environment. An additional outcome is that a subset of at least 50 strains had activity against human pathogens and these will be further explored in a separate project.
Information, discoveries, approaches and questions from our project have been used and disseminated in a number of different ways: Presentations about individual projects have been given to school groups, college students, local community groups and at professional scientific conferences (see examples, below). Several components of this project were completed and shared as peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts. Some of the fundamental scientific discoveries have been used to further develop and expand new ideas that were not a part of the original research plan. These new ideas and hypotheses have been incorporated into new grant proposals, resulting in successful new funding at both the state and federal levels (including several new LCCMR proposals that build directly on initial research accomplished in this period as Phase II projects). Some additional uses include the screening of these new, diverse microbial libraries against other targets, including human infectious disease pathogens. For example, several of the bacterial strains that showed no activity against the fungal bat pathogen did exhibit inhibition of human yeast pathogens. These strains will be further studied to purify and identify the active components for potential development as human therapeutics.
U of MN
2004 Folwell Ave
St Paul, MN 55108
$262,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to evaluate a new approach to forest inventory, based on statewide forest inventory and analysis (FIA) data.
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. This appropriation is being used by scientists at the University of Minnesota to evaluate an innovative approach to forest inventory using existing statewide Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data that could help reduce costs, expedite future updates, and improve overall usability.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Forests cover one-third of Minnesota and contain 15.9 million acres of timberland managed in large part by county, state and federal agencies and private landowners. Of this, 53% is public. DNR forest stand inventory records alone include nearly 200,000 stands. Stand inventories are central to the management of these lands. But forests change rapidly (e.g., 14% of field plots change cover type within 5 years) and stands can shift from sapling to old forest stage in 2-4 score years. Thus inventories need updating, but such efforts have fallen far behind. Why? They are costly (say $6 per acre, $3 for field plots, $3 for mapping) and can total millions of dollars statewide. Consequently these data are typically insufficient and out of date.
The project questioned existing inventories and explored new ideas, methodology and tools to dramatically reduce costs and to expand ecological and habitat detail. The findings below will foster inventories with greater frequency, timeliness and detail:PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
U of MN
1991 Upper Buford Cir, 495 Borlaug Hall
St Paul, MN 55126
$200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to evaluate and identify native Minnesota elms resistant to Dutch elm disease to assist with limiting the susceptibility of the state's elms to Dutch elm disease. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Elms were once a very widespread tree in Minnesota and amongst the most common and popular in urban landscapes due to their size, shading capability, and tolerance of pollution and other stresses. Over the past five decades, though, Dutch elm disease, an exotic and invasive pathogen, has killed millions of elms throughout the state. However, scientists at the University of Minnesota have observed that some elms have survived the disease and appear to have special characteristics that make them resistant to Dutch elm disease. This appropriation is being used to identify, propagate, and evaluate native Minnesota elms resistant to Dutch elm disease to assist with limiting the susceptibility of the state's remaining elms to Dutch elm disease and possibly lay the foundation for re-introductions of the tree in the future.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Dutch elm disease is caused by an exotic invasive fungus (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) that was introduced into Minnesota in the 1960's. Since that time the disease has killed millions of elms in urban and forested landscapes across the state. Although most American elms have no resistance to this pathogen, some continue to survive the disease and remain healthy in locations where all other elms have died. To determine if these trees have some tolerance to the disease or just escaped infection, we collected and inoculated a group of selected elms from across Minnesota. These trees were found from surveys with the help of city officials and the general public and they are from metropolitan and rural areas throughout the state. Accomplishments included:
Results indicate that there is a range of elm genotypes that vary in their tolerance to Dutch elm disease. We are continuing our efforts to find the highest degree of resistance among different genotypes so more Minnesota-hardy elms can be added to our urban and rural landscapes. New elm selections will provide the much needed diversity in these important native species and will provide more options for replanting in communities devastated by the emerald ash borer and other exotic pests and diseases. A Phase II elm project which began on July 1, 2016 with funds from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund will allow the testing of more elms, study the mechanisms of resistance found in the trees and continue to field test our selections to ensure trees with the greatest resistance and best growth characteristics are available for planting by the people of Minnesota.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Over the duration of this project many presentations, magazine articles, and scientific publications have been completed providing information about the project to a large audience of stakeholders including the arborists, nursery managers, foresters, researchers and the general public. We have received a great deal of feedback from the public supporting this project to find hardy Minnesota elms that are resistant to Dutch elm disease. With this information we are closer to our goal of introducing more Minnesota native elms back to our urban and rural landscape. Since the 1960's, Minnesota has lost millions of elms to this disease, changing the landscape. The results from our investigations show that there is hope to obtain resistant elms that are native to Minnesota and these will provide benefits to the environment and people of Minnesota.
U of MN
1530 Cleveland Ave N
St Paul, MN 55108
$336,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to evaluate the impacts of timber payment methods on postharvest forest ecological conditions and net revenue generated from public timber sale programs. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Currently, timber on public lands is sold in of two ways: pay based on volume harvested and pay based on appraised volume available for harvest, regardless of the actual harvest. Scientists at the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to evaluate how timber payment methods impact post-harvest forest ecological conditions, net revenue generated from public timber sale programs, and barriers perceived by forest managers and loggers. This information will help gauge economic and ecological tradeoffs between the two methods in order to maximize future forest productivity, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The method used by a timber sale program to collect payment for timber sold was perceived by land managers and others to have a substantial impact on post-harvest ecological conditions and net timber sale revenue. The two payment methods used are consumer scale (scale) and lump sum. Under the scale method, the buyer only pays for timber that has been harvested and scaled by a qualified scaler. With this method, the seller tracks harvested volume using scale tickets which require administrative time to process. The lump sum method requires the buyer to pay a fixed amount for the timber, regardless of the timber volume actually harvested.
Our study goals were to evaluate how the two timber payment methods: a) impact post-harvest ecological conditions; b) impact the cost-effectiveness within Minnesota's public timber sale programs; and c) are perceived by natural resource managers and loggers. To accomplish these study goals, we collected data from post-harvest sites, reviewed agency records, conducted a field economic experiment using a timber sale auction, conducted time studies, administered a mail survey, and conducted interviews and focus groups.
We found that the perceptions of ecological and economic impacts of timber payment method often exceed actual impact. Timber payment method did not impact post-harvest ecological conditions, gross stumpage revenue or stumpage price bids. Numerous factors (e.g., pre-harvest operator conditions, operator) had a greater impact on post-harvest ecological conditions than payment method. A strong biomass market could increase utilization and thus post-harvest ecological conditions under a lump sum method. The impact of using the consumer scale method on net timber sale revenue is less than one percent of the timber sale's value. Logging business owners participating in the study ranked timber payment method lower in importance than other factors when bidding on a sale. As each payment method has its strengths and weaknesses (see table below), agencies need the flexibility to select the approach which best meet their needs.
Summary of factors favoring use of scale and lump sum payment methods.
|Factors favoring scale method||Factors favoring lump sum method|
|1) Less administrative time and accuracy needed to estimate sale volume||1) Less time needed to administer active timber sale and to process paperwork and other related documents|
|2) Appraisal staff have low probability of accurately estimating sale volume and value||2) Facilitates simultaneously administering several timber sales|
|3) Timber sales with a high percentage of low value timber and/or where operating costs are expected to be high||3) Fewer personnel required for timber sale|
|4) More woody material may be retained on-site for wildlife purposes||4) High utilization can facilitate manual reforestation efforts|
|5) Salvage timber sales||5) Timber sale has uniform characteristics (e.g., pine plantation)|
Project cooperator meetings were conducted annually to discuss upcoming areas of focus, data and methods, and to present results to date. Semi-annual project summary reports submitted to LCCMR were shared with all project cooperators. During the March 24, 2016 project cooperator meeting in Willow River, final results from all project components were presented during a highly interactive session and four one-page fact sheets were distributed. Participants at that March 2016 meeting were so interested in the study results that they suggested and helped arrange additional presentations to the Minnesota Association of County Land Commissioners (June 9, 2016) and the Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership (June 23, 2016). Additional project outreach included a meeting with the DNR Forest Operations and Management Section in 2014, four papers and presentations at the Council on Forest Engineering annual meetings in 2014 and 2015, a seminar presented during the 2015 International Symposium for Society and Resource Management, three seminars to University of Minnesota graduate students and faculty, and a poster presented during the 2015 Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting. Three graduate students completed M.S. theses on their work in this project. Two University of Minnesota, Department of Forest Resources Staff Papers were produced. Everyone who participated in the Activity 2 mail survey was sent an electronic summary letter with instructions for how to receive the full report. At least two manuscripts are being prepared for peer-review journals and will be submitted after project completion.
U of MN
1530 Cleveland Ave N
St. Paul, MN 55108
$190,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to evaluate management options for woodlands used for grazing to improve ecological and economic benefits. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. This appropriation is being used by scientists at the University of Minnesota to evaluate and demonstrate how to effectively adapt and implement these best management practices for improved woodland grazing for use in Minnesota.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
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. This appropriation is being used by scientists at the University of Minnesota to evaluate and demonstrate how to effectively adapt and implement these best management practices for improved woodland grazing for use in Minnesota.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
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. This appropriation is being used by scientists at the University of Minnesota to evaluate and demonstrate how to effectively adapt and implement these best management practices for improved woodland grazing for use in Minnesota.
500 Lafayette Rd
St Paul, MN 55155
$1,000,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire authorized state trails and critical parcels within the statutory boundaries of state parks. State park land acquired with this appropriation must be sufficiently improved to meet at least minimum management standards, as determined by the commissioner of natural resources. A list of proposed acquisitions must be provided as part of the required work plan. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Additional benefits include preserving contiguous wildlife corridors, facilitating preservation and restoration of native plant communities and cultural resources, reducing impacts of future development, and providing riparian buffers along wetlands, creeks, and lakes. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using this appropriation to fund the acquisition of approximately 245 acres to add to the state park and trail system, which includes:
Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund funding resulted in the Department of Natural Resources acquiring approximately 103 acres of land within the statutory boundaries of two Minnesota State Parks and one Minnesota State Trail.
These project results and dissemination have been communicated through updated state park and state trail maps reflecting state managed land instead of private in-holdings, and are identified as public land open to be used and enjoyed by all visitors.
A news release promoting the recent acquisition for the Mill Towns State Trail is scheduled for July 2016, and credits Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as a partial funding source.
Signage at the above listed locations lists ENRTF as a funding source for these State Parks or State Trails.
500 Lafayette Rd
St Paul, MN 55155
$1,500,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to conserve sites of biodiversity significance by restoring and enhancing lands established as scientific and natural areas as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 5, and providing volunteer engagement and outreach. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using this appropriation to conduct restoration and enhancement activities on approximately 1,600 acres in existing SNAs and to increase citizen and student knowledge and skills pertaining to ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation through engagement with SNAs.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Habitat restoration and enhancement actions increased the quality of habitat on more than 1500 acres of designated Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) through achieving: restoration of about 235 acres at 4 SNAs; woody invasive species control on 371 acres at 49 SNAs, herbaceous invasive species treatment on 266 acres at 44 SNAs, and installation of invasive species control boot brush kiosks at 5 SNAs; about 26 miles of burn breaks at 24 SNAs and completion of 720 acres of prescribed burns at 25 SNAs and 141 acres of prescribed haying at 7 SNAs; and site development work (e.g. entry and boundary signs, new gates, and site cleanup) at over 50 SNAs. Conservation Corps Minnesota was involved in 42 of these projects. Adaptive Management Plans have been completed for 19 SNAs. Ecological monitoring has been completed at 7 SNAs; including monitoring of snakes at an SNA which is yielding new information that will inform natural resource management work.
The public's and youth involvement in SNAs and their knowledge and skills about biodiversity conservation has significantly increased through the SNA Outreach Initiative in its second phase through this appropriation. As of September 2015: the SNA Facebook page reached over 34,000 people with over 1500 likes of the page and the quarterly SNA e-newsletter Nature Notes reached over 3,250 subscribers. From January 2014 through June 2015, about 170 SNA events were held involving over 1550 people and volunteer site stewards were helping monitor and care for 128 or 80% of SNAs. The statewide color map locating all SNAs was updated and 5000 copies of this second addition were printed.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Dissemination is primarily achieved through the upgraded SNA webpage on the DNR website: http://www.mndnr.gov/snas and through other electronic/social media which are linked through this webpage. With support through this funding, the SNA Facebook page was launched in February 2014; the SNA Facebook page has achieved over 1,500 page likes and total monthly reach of over 34,000 by March 2015. The 11th (Winter 2014) issue of the Nature Notes e-newsletter was delivered to over 3,250 subscribers. The statewide color map locating all SNAs (with directions to all sites and ENRTF acknowledgement on the back) was updated and 5000 copies of this second addition were printed and nearly all have been distributed.
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 25
St Paul, MN 55155
$750,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire native prairie bank easements, prepare baseline property assessments, restore and enhance native prairie sites, and provide technical assistance to landowners. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. A variety of restoration and enhancement activities will be implemented on a total of about 690 acres. Additionally, education and technical assistance will be provided to interested landowners to help them improve the management and stewardship of native prairie sites they own.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Native Prairie Bank (NPB) conservation easements were acquired on 330 acres thereby permanently protecting valuable native prairie. Specifically, 3 easements were acquired in part with this appropriation located in Wilkin, Traverse and Big Stone Counties (194 acres pro-rated to this appropriation). In total, 12 baseline property reports were written through this appropriation (including 2 of the 3 newly acquired easement baselines). In addition to baseline reports, 16 existing Native Prairie Bank easements were monitored and data entered into the Department of Natural Resource (DNR)'s Conservation Easement Monitoring database.
Restoration and enhancement activities were completed on a total of over 850 acres exceeding the project's target acreage. Specific accomplishments are 18 prescribed burns on 702 acres, 4 prairie reconstructions on 6 acres, and 21 invasive species control projects on 147 acres; 9 of these 43 projects involved Conservation Corps Minnesota (CCM) crews. Boundary signing has been completed on 5 NPB easements.
Through this appropriation, 9 different events were held aimed at getting prairie stewardship information to landowners. NPB staff also worked with all 10 Prairie Conservation Plan Local Technical Teams to insure that landowners being approached by other practitioners are made aware of their prairie stewardship options such as Native Prairie Bank that are available through the Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) Program. Prairie specialists engaged 70+ different priority prairie landowners one-on-one to discuss prairie protection and management options for their property. One landowner received a comprehensive Prairie Stewardship plan.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Native Prairie Tax Exemption brochures were updated and printed to aid in prairie outreach, encourage prairie preservation and improve prairie stewardship of native prairie acres that may not be protected long-term by other means. A .pdf copy of this brochure is included with the final report and a paper copy can be made available upon request. A total of 3000 Prairie Tax Exemption brochures were printed, 1000 of which were paid for through this appropriation.
Additionally, included with the final report is an article written about a landowner technical assistance success story. This article was written to promote the technical assistance available to private land prairie landowners through this appropriation and encourage pro-active prairie land management. An abbreviated version of this story was shared in the SNA Nature Notes which is published quarterly and distributed to over 3,250 subscribers. One Prairie Stewardship Plan was completed and is being followed by the landowner.
Minnesota Land Trust
2356 University Ave W, Ste 240
St Paul, MN 55114
$2,000,000 the first year is from the trust fund for the acceleration of agency programs and cooperative agreements. Of this appropriation, $10,000 is to the commissioner of natural resources for agency programs and $1,990,000 is to the commissioner of natural resources for agreements as follows: $304,000 with Friends of the Mississippi River; $368,000 with Dakota County; $208,000 with Great River Greening; $310,000 with Minnesota Land Trust; $400,000 with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, Inc.; and $400,000 with the Trust for Public Land for planning, restoring, and protecting priority natural areas in the metropolitan area, as defined under Minnesota Statutes, section 473.121, subdivision 2, and portions of the surrounding counties, through contracted services, technical assistance, conservation easements, and fee title acquisition. Land acquired with this appropriation must be sufficiently improved to meet at least minimum management standards, as determined by the commissioner of natural resources. Expenditures are limited to the identified project corridor areas as defined in the work plan. This appropriation may not be used for the purchase of habitable residential structures, unless expressly approved in the work plan. All conservation easements must be perpetual and have a natural resource management plan. Any land acquired in fee title by the commissioner of natural resources with money from this appropriation must be designated as an outdoor recreation unit under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.07. The commissioner may similarly designate any lands acquired in less than fee title. A list of proposed restorations and fee title and easement acquisitions must be provided as part of the required work plan. Lands that would require payments in lieu of taxes under Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.061 or 477A.12, shall not be acquired with money from this appropriation. Up to $54,000 is for use by Minnesota Land Trust in a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the work plan and subject to subdivision 16. An entity that acquires a conservation easement with appropriations from the trust fund must have a long-term stewardship plan for the easement and a fund established for monitoring and enforcing the agreement. Money appropriated from the trust fund for easement acquisition may be used to establish a monitoring, management, and enforcement fund as approved in the work plan. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring, management, and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Though many parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area are urbanized, there are also has large areas of natural lands that continue to serve as important habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant communities. However, pressure on these remaining lands continues to intensify as population and development pressures increase. This appropriation represents the seventh phase of an ongoing effort by a partnership of state and non-profit organizations, called the Metro Conservation Corridors (MeCC) partnership, to conduct strategic and coordinated land protection, restoration, and enhancement activities that build connections between remaining high quality natural areas in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area and ensures their benefits are available for future generations. Efforts will strengthen and protect biodiversity; improve water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams; and improve connectivity and access to outdoor recreation. This phase involves six partners and is expected to result in the permanent protection of more than 260 acres and the restoration and enhancement of more than 260 acres. Organizations involved in this phase include Dakota County, Friends of the Mississippi River, Great River Greening, Minnesota Land Trust, MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, and Trust for Public Land.
Individual Partner Project Overviews
Metro Conservation Corridors partners continued their work to accelerate protection and restoration of high-quality natural lands within the greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Six partner organizations participated - Minnesota Land Trust, Friends of the Mississippi River, Dakota County, Great River Greening, Trust for Public Land, and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Trust. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Trust received a 1-year extension to their grant and will report their final outcomes separately. Three specific areas of activity were pursued:
|Partner||Proposed (Habitat/Shoreline)||Accomplished Habitat/Shoreline (ENRTF)||Accomplished Habitat/Shoreline (Other)||Expenditures (ENRTF / Other)|
|Friends of the Mississippi River||134 acres/0 miles||135.5 acres/0 miles||0.0 acres/0 miles||$142,000/$4,546|
|Great River Greening||90 acres/0.18 miles||137 acres/0.35 miles||73 acres/0.07 miles||$184,270/$315,178|
|Dakota County||40 acres/0 miles||10.1 acres/0 miles||8.9 acres/0 miles||$22,808/$22,935|
|Totals||264 acres/0.18 miles||282.6 acres/0.35 miles||81.9 acres/0.07 miles||$349,078/$342,658|
Two partners turned back funding:
The amount of funding returned to the State (33% of total appropriation for protection) is proportional to the shortfall in ENRTF acres protected (28% below goal).
Partners publicized accomplishments through a diverse array of press releases, organization newsletters and the internet. Additionally, the MeCC Partnership maintains an interactive public web map that shows the locations of MeCC projects over time. This web map can be directly accessed at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/MeCC/mapper.html.
ABSTRACTS AND FINAL REPORTS OF INDIVIDUAL PARTNER PROJECTS (Click project # to go to listing for that project)
Project Outcome and Results
In this seventh phase of the Metro Conservation Corridors the partners met quarterly to review project accomplishments, share information related to each respective partner's conservation work across the MeCC program area, and to strategically plan and coordinate conservation activities.
The MeCC web-based project database upgrade work was completed by the DNR during Spring 2016 and made available for partner review, planning, and coordination purposes. Based on partner feedback, the web-based map was revised and was posted for public use which was made available for use in June 2016. The web-based map for public use can be accessed on the DNR's website.
Project Results Use And Dissemination
The MeCC Partnership maintains an interactive public web map that shows the locations of MeCC projects over time. This web map can be directly accessed at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/MeCC/mapper.html, while the web-based project database can be accessed by authorized partners at:https://webapps15.dnr.state.mn.us/mecc/.
Project completed: 6/30/2016
2.1/3.4 FINAL REPORT - Metro Conservation Corridors (MeCC) Phase VII-Friends of the Mississippi River. Protect, Restore and Enhance Significant Watershed Habitat - Friends of the Mississippi River ($304,000)
Project Outcome and Results
FMR had three goals for this project: Increase the amount of native habitat, enhance the quality of existing habitat and acquire and permanently protect habitat along the Mississippi River in Maplewood. To approach the first two goals we committed to restoring 10 acres of prairie and enhancing 54-acres of prairie, 10-acres of savanna and 60 acres of forest/woodland for a total of 134 acres improved. We accomplished the goals through the following projects:
Project totals: 23.5 acres of prairie installed/restored and 45 acres of existing prairie, 17 acres of savanna and 50 acres of forest/woodland were enhanced for a total of 135.5 acres of habitat improved. The third goal was accomplished by acquiring 6 acres of bluffland habitat in the Fish Creek Natural area, Maplewood.
Project Results Use And Dissemination
Information about this project was disseminated in several ways. FMR published articles about the site specific projects in our traditional newsletter and in our electronic newsletter. Articles could also be found on our website. An article about the Fish Creek acquisition appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. We often organize volunteer events for our project sites and we share information with our participants.
Project completed: 6/30/2016
Project Outcome and Results
Along with partners and volunteers, Greening undertook restoration projects to reduce habitat fragmentation, enhance habitat quality, reconnect habitat corridors, and build connections with local communities. Habitats included prairie, oak savanna, woodland, wetland, and riparian. Significantly exceeding all of our goals, we:
Table 1: Summary of Deliverables by Parcel
|Parcel Name||City||County||Acres||Shoreline (mi)||Volunteers|
|Trout Brook Nature Preserve||St. Paul||Ramsey||7||882|
|Long Pond Elk Ranch II||Princeton||Sherburne||3||-|
|Doyle-Kennefick Regional Park||Elko||Scott||10||142|
|Katherine Abbott Park I||Mahtomedi||Washington||19||313|
|Wild & Scenic Rivers II - Rum||Cambridge||Isanti||1||0.15||-|
|Pilot Knob Hill III||Mendota Heights||Dakota||1||24|
|Cedar Creek Conservation Area||Oak Grove||Anoka||67||-|
|Central Corridor II and III||Woodbury / Cottage Grove||Washington||6||337|
|Spring Lake Regional Park III||Cedar Lake Twsp||Scott||20||-|
|Arcola Mills Maintenance||May Township||Washington||-||-|
|Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park||New Prague||Scott||3||0.20||-|
|Dodge Nature Center Lilly Preserve||Mendota Heights||Dakota||4||63|
Sites hosted five documented rare species (2 plants, 3 vertebrates), and three native plant communities with biodiversity of statewide significance.
We restored and de-fragmented habitat in ecological corridors, and at several ecological cores. Restorations protected water quality along the Mississippi River and the Rum River and its watershed.
Volunteers planted over 4,500 trees/shrubs and 5,600 forb/grass plugs, and received presentations from a Greening ecologist as part of their workday.
Project Results Use And Dissemination
Volunteer event descriptions acknowledging Trust Fund contributions and qualitative results were emailed to Greening's e-subscribers in July 2013, Feb 2014, July 2014, February 2015, July 2015, and spring 2016 in advance of our spring and fall volunteer event seasons. Over the course of the grants, the number of subscribers increased from approximately 5,000 to about 6,500.
Information about the Metro Conservation Corridors is on our website in the Initiatives and Volunteer Events sections at http://www.greatrivergreening.org/. Over the course of the grant, the visits to the Greening website increased from over 1,200 to over 1,500 visits per month. Seven press articles disseminated information about the projects. Greening is in active partnership with landowners, other land managers, service providers, conservation peers, and volunteers resulting in a dynamic and timely exchange of information and results.
Project completed: 6/30/2016
Project Outcome and Results
The project goal was to acquire permanent conservation easements or land along rivers, streams, and undeveloped lakeshore in Dakota County; prepare Natural Resource Management Plans (NRMPs) for conservation easements; and restore/enhance protected land. The project scope encompassed some of the best natural resource features found in the metropolitan region. A sound fiscal and ecological conservation approach was taken, while attempting to balance the interests, rights and responsibilities of private landowners, with public concerns about water, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and climate change.
In November 2011, Dakota County adopted a comprehensive Land Conservation Vision that includes establishing permanent vegetative buffers along all rivers, streams and undeveloped lakeshore, and protecting quality natural areas. The County's land conservation programs targeted specific areas in the County and mailings were issued to determine landowner interest. Program applications were reviewed and evaluated using County Board-approved criteria; and top-ranking projects were considered for permanent protection. Appraisals were conducted for recommended projects. NRMPs and baseline Property Reports were prepared for projects where landowners accepted purchase offers; and landowners agreed to cash or in-kind restoration and management contributions. Restoration projects were also completed on existing easement and fee title properties.
The project goals were to acquire an estimated five permanent conservation easements and one fee title property, totaling 235 acres, and restoring/enhancing 40 acres of protected land. In spite of significant County efforts, a wide variety of issues prevented projects from being completed. Landowner inflated value expectations, lack of family agreement to move forward, and inability to make timely decisions delayed and derailed projects. Subsequently, the County didn't meet its acquisition goals, but exceeded its restoration goals, and overall, accomplished the following:
|Project Name||Acres||Miles of Shoreline||Ecological Significance||Activity Description||ENRTF Cost|
|Cemstone||61.7||1.7||Designated trout stream area on Vermillion River||Fee title acquisition||$104,932|
|Ruppe||17.2||0.5||Chub Creek riparian area||Easement acquisition||$25,450|
|Schweich||20.7||0.3||Chub Creek riparian area/upland||Easement acquisition||$60,400|
|Cemstone||19||1.7||Designated trout stream riparian area/upland||Initial site preparation, seeding and first phase restoration of formerly cultivated and disturbed areas||$4,845|
|Malecha||27||0.9||Wetland restoration||Wetland berm construction and initial seeding||$6,000|
|Ruppe||NA||0.5||Chub Creek riparian area||Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) completed||$5,625|
|Schweich||15||0.3||Chub Creek riparian area, and formerly cultivated upland area||NRMP completed and buffer seeded||$4,238 (NRMP only)|
Project Results Use And Dissemination
Information about the specific projects funded through this State appropriation is integrated with information about the County's comprehensive land conservation efforts that were initiated in 1998, with a farmland and natural areas protection plan partially funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Implementation of the initial plan and subsequent revisions resulted in the permanent protection of 11,244 acres of natural areas and agricultural land and over 51 miles of shoreland outside of the regional park and greenway system.
This project informed and improved internal and external County land conservation practices, procedures and policies. County staff has provided numerous local, regional and national presentations about how Dakota County has developed and implemented its successful programs. Information has appeared on TV and radio, as well as metropolitan newspapers and residential newsletters. Information can also be found on the County's web site at: https://www.co.dakota.mn.us/Environment/LandConservation/Pages/default.aspx.
Project completed: 6/30/2016
Project Outcome and Results
In this seventh phase of the Metro Conservation Corridors, the Minnesota Land Trust (Land Trust) sought to protect 100 acres of critical habitat through conservation easements within designated Metro conservation corridors. To facilitate this outcome, the Land Trust implemented an RFP process (a revision of the MMAPLE framework developed for the ENRTF-funded Avon Hills program in Stearns County) to solicit bids from interested landowners within areas of high biological value targeted for the program. A framework for scoring and prioritizing bids was developed for the Metro Corridors program that placed emphasis on a set of ecological criteria (size of habitat to be protected, condition of the habitat, ecological/protection context within which the parcel lies, and threat) and cost. Along with their proposal for inclusion into the program, landowners identified the funding level necessary for their participation.
The Land Trust utilized an array of strategies to effectively target landowners within priority areas, ranging from direct mail to face-to-face meetings and web-based methods (Facebook and web postings). Anoka and Washington Conservation Districts were contracted to engage local landowners within priority areas. Anoka Conservation District (ACD) sent 17 mailings out to landowners of high priority properties within the Rum River Watershed. Washington Conservation District utilized both GIS-generated mail merge and direct contact to reach 100 landowners. The Land Trust also sent out targeted mailings to 26 landowners of property meeting criteria for the program elsewhere in the Metro.
Twelve bids were received and ranked relative to the established criteria; three projects were identified as highest priority for the program. These landowners were engaged in easement negotiations but eventually declined to continue forward due to financial considerations, specifically low appraised land values (relative to landowner expectations/desires) and tax implications for the landowner. As a result, no conservation easements were procured through this grant.
Project Results Use And Dissemination
The Land Trust developed partnerships with local conservation partners (Anoka and Washington Conservation Districts) to conduct targeted landowner outreach in priority geographies to identify interested landowners. Outreach materials, including program fact sheets and application materials, were developed and shared with local partners and or were direct-mailed to landowners by the Land Trust. In addition, the Land Trust marketed the easement program and RFP process through social media and on its web site. Over 140 landowners were reached via direct mail or through face-to-face meetings, and an unknown number of individuals were reached through our web-based media. Though no easements were completed from which to disseminate results, the time invested in outreach through local partnerships provides a strong foundation from which to continue protection efforts in the Conservation Corridors area.
Project completed: 6/30/2016
Project Outcome and Results
The Minnesota Valley Trust’s goal with this $400,000 ENRTF grant was to acquire 100 priority acres to expand the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Minnesota Valley Trust exceeded the acreage goal by acquiring in fee title 121.36 acres, while spending only $246,800 of the grant.
Specifically, the ENRTF grant acquired 23.6 acres for the Bloomington Ferry Unit and 97.76 acres for the Louisville Swamp Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge).
Another 4.5 acre parcel was acquired by the Minnesota Valley Trust with leveraged, non-state funds for the San Francisco Unit of the Refuge. While we had other non-state funds available to spend as leverage, we did not have the opportunity to close on other acquisitions during the grant timeframe.
Acquisition of the Bloomington Ferry Unit parcel was a high priority for the completion and management of that unit of the Refuge. The parcel acquired contains floodplain forest habitat and frontage on the Minnesota River.
Acquisition of the Louisville Swamp Unit parcel was a high priority for the completion and management of that unit of the Refuge. This protects floodplain forest habitat and gains full management of a large wetland bordered by USFWS and the seller’s property.
Many species of wildlife will benefit by Refuge management of these parcels, including wood ducks, mallards, bald eagles, grassland nesting birds as well as numerous resident game species such as turkeys and deer. Both properties will provide opportunities for the public to participate in wildlife dependent outdoor activities. The land will also serve as an outdoor classroom for environmental education activities for schools and environmental organizations.
In addition, public ownership of these properties will ensure long-term access for the State Trail, which ran through the Louisville Swamp Unit under a lease agreement between the DNR and the former landowner and (2) needs to cross the Bloomington Ferry Unit property. We have finalized a new no-cost lease agreement with the DNR for operation of the State Trail on the Louisville Swamp Unit property. The USFWS intends to allow the DNR to complete and manage the State Trail on the Bloomington Ferry Unit property.
Project Results Use And Dissemination
The properties acquired are posted open to the public for Refuge-approved uses. The Minnesota Valley Trust’s website (mnvalleytrust.org) has been updated to announce these acquisitions. A press release has been sent to the local newspapers (Jordan Independent and Bloomington Sun Current).
Project completed: 6/30/2017
U of MN - MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Dr
Chaska, MN 55318
|Email:||firstname.lastname@example.org EMAIL ADDRESS HERE|
$2,000,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to acquire land surrounding Lake Tamarack in Carver County as part of the acquisition of approximately 80 acres. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. This appropriation is being used by the arboretum to acquire approximately 80 acres of land surrounding Lake Tamarack in Carver County, which will protect a variety of habitat types and 1,300 feet of shoreline in an area threatened by development. This new portion of the arboretum will have free public access and provide additional land for future research that may pertain to restoration ecology, crop production, bio-energy, or wildlife habitat.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum purchased the property at 400 Arboretum Boulevard, Victoria, (previously known as the Kerber Farm or Lano Burau Property), effective Friday, November 1, 2013. The property consists of 78.13 acres in Carver County. This is the final property purchase identified in the Arboretum's 1995 Boundaries Plan. Over 300 acres have been added to the Arboretum during the last 18 years.
The property is north of State Highway 5 and directly adjacent to the Horticultural Research Center. The property contains native forest, wetlands, tillable land, and 1,300 feet of lakeshore on Lake Tamarack. Current structures on the property will be evaluated for condition and safety and some will likely be retained for unheated storage while others may be demolished.
The property will be used in the future for research; protection of wildlife, wetlands and water quality; protection of big woods, oak savanna and upland meadow; and educational and public low impact recreational purposes. Research uses have not been determined and roads, fencing, and irrigation will be installed in the 10 acre area designated for research. Some of the current soybean fields could also be used for alternative crop, forage crop, or restoration research projects, and the Arboretum is considering partners from across the University of Minnesota or other conservation and natural resources groups.
Funding for this purchase was provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) - recommended by the Legislative Citizens Commission for Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation. Because we received LCCMR and LSOHC funding to purchase the property, the Arboretum will provide FREE public access. The University of Minnesota is charging the City of Victoria $1 for the 50 year Use License Agreement for the Trail that crosses the Lake Tamarack Property and $1 for the Use License Agreement for Temporary Construction Access for this trail. There are no fees beyond the $2 for the entire trail including the sections that do not cross the Lake Tamarack Property. Finally, the Arboretum will work over the next several months to develop public access policies and install signage.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The acquisition was successfully publicized by the Arboretum with a press release issued on November 11, 2013 and was also covered in the Arboretum E-News with 10,000 subscribers. It was then covered in the local media:
Board of Water and Soil Resources
520 Lafayette Rd N
St. Paul, MN 55155
$3,000,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to continue providing grants to soil and water conservation districts and other units of local and state government for the employment of staff to reenroll expiring lands into programs for conservation purposes. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Enrollment of private lands in conservation programs can provide important natural resource and other public benefits by taking the lands out of production so that they can provide various wildlife, water quality, and ecological benefits. This appropriation is enabling the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources to continue to provide grants to local soil and water conservation districts for employment of technical staff to assist private landowners in implementing conservation programs. This effort is expected to assist with the enrollment, retention, and management of 170,000 private acres of grasslands, wetlands, and forests in federal and state conservation programs, particularly in areas expected to lose enrollments in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
During this project a total of 42,474 private landowner contacts were made resulting in 8,235 contracts on 160,258 acres of land positively impacted (restored, enhanced or managed) with grassland and wetland programs. A contact is defined as a personal interaction between the Farm Bill Assistance Partnership (FBAP) staffer and a landowner. It may be a phone conversation discussing program benefits and opportunities, office visit to review plan documents or an in-field visit to stake out a practice. In order for a contract to be completed it takes several contacts to move a landowner through the process, once again demonstrating the value of these positions.
General CRP and CCRP
|Other local, state and federal **|
|Type||Filter Strips||Riparian Buffers||Wetlands||Windbreaks||Gen. Erosion and water quality||Mgt. Activities to sustain site||Various conservation concerns||Total|
89,544 acres of this total were critical wetland and riparian CRP contracts and this exceeded our goal of 80,000 acres. With this project, targeted local outreach, enrollment and implementation has occurred which directly led to the project accomplishments.
The primary environmental benefits tied to the land use conversion from row crops to perennial vegetation due to CRP and other programs, includes the reduction of sediment and nutrient pollutants to water bodies as well as increased habitat for resident and migratory species.
The new Federal Farm Bill reduced the national CRP acreage limit and drastically curtailed General CRP sign-ups and encouraged more focused Continuous CRP (CCRP). This allowed local staff hired through this project to assist landowners who wanted to focus on CCRP, management of existing CRP contracts to optimize the environmental benefits as well as other programs to reach the goals of this project. Due to these facts local staff were still able to accomplish 94% of the overall acreage goal for the project (160,258 acres compared to 170,000 goal).
This project is built upon the framework of a multi partner group called the Farm Bill Assistance Partnership (FBAP) created in 2002 to accelerate private lands conservation program implementation. Emphasis is on the maximum use of federal and state conservation programs to retain and restore grasslands and wetlands on private lands primarily in the agricultural region of MN. At the core of the project is the hiring of Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or Pheasants Forever (PF) staff to engage and lead landowners through conservation practice enrollment and implementation. At the close of this project there were 47 counties participating with 30.40 full time staff equivalents hired (18 SWCD and 12 PF employees housed in SWCD offices).
This $3M ENTRF funded project was leveraged with $873,737 of local and non ENTRF funds to bring the grand total for the project to nearly $3.9M.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The work of this project, past, present and future is tracked as part of the MN Conservation Lands Summary. This document is the only accounting of our collective private and public conservation estate here in MN. As CRP comes and goes and as we add permanently protected lands it is imperative that we have a foundation of our conservation estate. This report is updated annually and is posted on the BWSR web site at http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/easements/CLS%20Statewide%20Summary%20August%2013%202015.pdf
The Farm Bill Assistance Partnership has been a model for local-state-federal agency and NGO cooperation and has been used for other conservation related acceleration projects. At the local level biologists utilize past successes and future goals to provide widespread and one-on-one outreach to landowners in their covered areas.
U of MN - Duluth
5013 Miller Trunk Hwy
Duluth, MN 55811
$200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the Natural Resources Research Institute to develop best practices guidelines for creating moose foraging habitat efficiently and cost-effectively. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Scientists at the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to identify appropriate management and habitat needs and the sorts of actions that can be implemented to help slow or prevent continued population declines amongst Minnesota's moose populations. The project is a continuation and expansion of work completed and underway by two other past Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund supported projects on determining the cause for the increasing mortality.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The main outcome of this project was documenting browse species regeneration after the Ham Lake, Cavity Lake and Pagami Creek fires in the BWCA, and after forest harvest, shearing, and smaller prescribed burns. These results were used in part to inform habitat restoration decisions for an Outdoor Heritage Fund project. Differences in browse species production were similar to variation in moose range across Minnesota and across North America. About 5 species usually comprise 80% of the browse eaten in summer and in winter.
Winter and summer browsing was measured. At each site 5 transects were walked and browse species use and availability was recorded at 20 plots along each transect. We measured 176 stands covering 11,536 acres that were harvested, sheared, or burned, and 66 sites in the BWCA burns. Browse availability increased within 4 years of treatment, and leveled off within 10 years. Browse species were similar in harvested stands, sheared stands, burned stands, and the large BWCA fires. The most common browse species were hazel, aspen, and paper birch. Other species were mountain maple, willow, balsam fir, pin cherry, chokecherry, juneberry, red osier, and red maple. Mountain ash, a highly preferred browse species, was present on about 10% of stands.
Browsing intensity is affected by species composition and by moose density. All browse species were eaten, with the less common species eaten more frequently. Low browsing levels would be expected with low moose densities in Minnesota. About 2% of twigs were browsed in summer, and about 15% of twigs were browsed in winter. Regardless of whether a stand was harvested, sheared, or burned, browsing level by moose was similar. It is unlikely that browse is limiting the moose population. MN DNR projects show low moose survival rates. Adult mortalities are caused by predation and by health-related issues, calf mortalities are primarily caused by predation. If survival rates increase, browse could be more limiting.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Overall this project resulted in significant outreach to the public and to resource management agency personnel. Over the course of the project we had 71 presentations to different audiences, ranging from professional conferences, college courses, and the public. There were 5 M.S. graduate students who were supported in part by this project and have already graduated, and 1 Ph.D. student who defended in spring 2018. Publications arising from this project include 5 M.S. theses, 1 Ph.D. thesis (not quite completed), 9 technical reports, and 9 peer-reviewed publications. There were also at least 8 different media contacts which appeared in print, on the radio, or on television.
Goal 3 identified in the work plan was to continue to involve the public, biologists, and organizations in a coordinated effort to slow or prevent a continuing decline of the NE MN moose population. This is important because of the combined research effort among biologists, agencies, and organizations. Concern about moose in Minnesota is real, and is evident in the way moose research transcends agency jurisdiction and even the international boundary. Collectively, the research project, the meetings of Minnesota moose biologists, and involvement of the public made it possible to meet this goal.
U of MN
219 Hodson Hall, 1980 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
$200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to assess the potential to supplement traditional turf grass by providing critical floral plant resources to enhance bee pollinator habitat. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Bees play a key role in ecosystem function and in agriculture, including more than one hundred U.S. crops that either need or benefit from pollinators. However, bee pollinators are in dramatic decline in Minnesota and throughout the country. One of the potential causes appears to be a scarcity of bee-friendly flowers, particularly in urban areas, which is leading to nutritional deficiencies, chronic exposure to pesticides, and debilitating diseases and parasites. Scientists at the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to assess options that can be broadly implemented in urban areas to enhance bee pollinator habitat and counteract declining populations and bee health. The effort will examine ways to supplement traditional turfgrass landscapes, particularly in areas that primarily serve an aesthetic purpose, with flowering plants that can provide increased nutrition and less potential exposure to pesticides.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Our goal was to develop an innovative way of helping bee pollinators by enhancing turf areas with native flowering plants. Planting "bee lawns" could help reduce intensive inputs (pesticides and fertilizers) and provide low-growing floral areas, which would beautify Minnesota and provide a creative model for a simple yet effective way to help pollinators and protect our natural resources. First, we identified turf grasses that are well suited to incorporating flowering plants. We found that hard fescue, Festuca brevipila, like other fine leafed fescues, demonstrates drought tolerance, slow vertical growth rate, and excellent winter hardiness making it suitable for a lower-input lawn species. Next, we found that native floral species, Prunella vulgaris spp. lanceolata and Astragalus crassicarpus established well in hard fescue, with Prunella establishing better in loamy soil and Astragalus in sandy soil. We also found that Symphyotrichum lateriflorum (native calico aster) would bloom at a low height under light mowing pressure, making it a third native species for incorporation into turf. These experiments were important first steps in identifying native plants to diversify lawns that are both attractive to pollinators and can withstand mowing pressure. To assist homeowners in establishing flowers in their own existing home lawns, we subjected turf areas in two locations to scalping and/ or aeration and then seeded them with native flowers. The flowers established at higher rates at the location that used minimal turfgrass management (infrequent mowing and no fertilizer use) compared to the more intensively managed site. This latter finding indicates that flowering lawns will do best with lower inputs, which will contribute to more sustainable landscapes that are beneficial to pollinators. Ian Lane, graduate student that conducted this work, defended his Master's degree in May 2016.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
This project reached a broad audience with research-based information about bee lawns. Professional audiences have been reached through articles in trade journals. Hobbyist audiences have been reached through presentations at local, regional, and national meetings. Scientific audiences have been engaged through departmental seminars and national scientific meetings. Ian Lane, graduate student, will produce at least three peer-reviewed publications from this project. Most importantly, the general public has been reached in a number ways: we hosted five field days, 3,000 copies of a new brochure on Bee Lawns were distributed, and a new page on the Bee Lab website at the University of Minnesota was developed with information on planting and maintenance of Bee Lawns: https://www.beelab.umn.edu/ A pdf copy of the brochure and evaluations from attendees of the 2016 field day are included as an Addendum to this report.
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN 55155
$600,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to develop grazing plans and provide infrastructure to support conservation grazing on approximately 10,000 acres of targeted wildlife management areas in partnership with local livestock producers. Any revenue generated as a result of this appropriation must be reinvested in producing plans, conducting maintenance, or building infrastructure for new or existing conservation grazing efforts. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. This appropriation is being used by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to provide the infrastructure needed to support conservation grazing on 10,000 acres of targeted wildlife management areas to demonstrate that grazing can be effectively and cost-efficiently implemented to improve grassland habitat quality and ecological integrity in Minnesota.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The intent was to use conservation grazing as an added ecological disturbance to the traditional practice of prescribed fire. With this appropriation we were able to install permanent fence 2832 acres on eight Wildlife Management Areas. These units are near major roadways where permanent fencing is required. In more rural areas on gravel township roads we are primarily using temporary electric fencing. Those who have hunted grazed WMAs have reported a high success rate and state that they have seen an abundance of game and nongame wildlife.
|Vermillion River WMA||160 acres||10,770 ft|
|Fergus WMA||253 acres||17,040 ft|
|Doran WMA||544 acres||36,650 ft|
|Rothsay WMA||100 acres||6,740 ft|
|Barnesville WMA||125 acres||8,420 ft|
|Sem WMA||417 acres||28,090 ft|
|Regal Meadows WMA||502 acres||25,470 ft|
|Hole in the Mountain WMA||731 acres||41,400 ft|
|TOTAL||2,832 acres||174,590 ft|
We did do some pre-grazing data collection on some sites as well as assessments to determine if grazing was a suitable management tool for a WMA. The conservation community (DNR, FWS, TNC, others) is still working to develop monitoring protocols that can be shared that meet multiple uses. Some of the monitoring was simply comparing different methods and protocols to decide on a plan for moving forward with large-scale monitoring under the Prairie Plan. This was a much more challenging issue than anticipated and this work continues.
Due to staff turnover in the DNR and after continued conversations with educators we were not able to complete any of the education component of this project.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We have used several outreach strategies for our overall conservation grazing initiative. DNR staff have published articles on conservation grazing in three national and one statewide magazines (Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, American Waterfowler, and Minnesota Conservation Volunteer). DNR staff have also given talks at the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and have worked with USFWS staff to present at Pheasants Forever state conventions. We have also devoted entire afternoons to fencing/grazing issues at the last DNR Wildlife School. This fall, the Wildlife Chief (Paul Telander) and Prairie Habitat Supervisor (Greg Hoch) will visit with each DNR Region to encourage more grazing on WMAs.
Saint Johns Arboretum and University
Collegeville, MN 56321
$772,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Saint John's University in cooperation with the Minnesota Land Trust to secure permanent conservation easements on high quality habitat in Stearns County, prepare conservation management plans, and provide public outreach. A list of proposed easement acquisitions must be provided as part of the required work plan. Up to $80,000 is for use by Minnesota Land Trust in a monitoring and enforcement fund as approved in the work plan and subject to subdivision 16. An entity that acquires a conservation easement with appropriations from the trust fund must have a long-term stewardship plan for the easement and a fund established for monitoring and enforcing the agreement. Money appropriated from the trust fund for easement acquisition may be used to establish a monitoring, management, and enforcement fund as approved in the work plan. An annual financial report is required for any monitoring, management, and enforcement fund established, including expenditures from the fund. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. John's University to secure permanent protection, via conservation easements, for an additional 350-550 acres of high quality habitat in the Avon Hills area, prepare conservation management plans for the easement lands, and provide public outreach on the significance of the Avon Hills landscape and options for its protection. St. John's Arboretum previously used a 2008 Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriation to permanently protect more than 1,000 acres in the area.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Conservation easements to permanently protect private land from development are the main goal of this project located in the Avon Hills 10 miles west of St. Cloud, MN. We tested a reverse bidding system termed the MN Multi-faceted Approach for Prioritizing Land Easements (MMAPLE) to rank submitted easement locations. MMAPLE ranks proposed easements by comparing the land's inherent ecological features to the cost per acre for the easement, thereby focusing on the best value. Land which has many inherent ecological values receives a higher score. Conversely, landowners who bid a higher price per acre for the easement receive a lower score.
The MMAPLE process resulted in seven bids for easements. Pursuit of easements was discontinued with five of these landowners due to concerns with future tax implications, or land use restrictions imposed by the easement itself. In this regard, MMAPLE proved effective as a ranking tool in identifying the next highest-scoring eligible landowner within the candidate pool; this enable the Land Trust to move quickly in engaging the landowner. MMAPLE also proved its ability to efficiently leverage the grant funding under this phase of the project; both easement acquisitions were bargain sales by the landowners. On the first easement acquisition of 170 acres, the easement was purchased for $126,100 below its full market value; the second easement of 61 acres was purchased for $67,800 below its full market value. Total appraised value of the two purchased easements was $635,300, with the grant providing $441,400 towards acquisition; donated value of these bargain sales amounted to $193,900.
The grant also funded outreach and education to increase landowner awareness of easements and land protection as well overall conservation. Landowner conferences held at Saint John's University were the main vehicle for this outreach with 559 total attendees.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The Land Trust shared news of the easement acquisitions on both the Avon Hills (Riesner) and (Dwyer) parcels on its website and Facebook page. MMAPLE was also featured as a new model for acquiring conservation easements in the Fall 2015 publication of the academic journal, Natural Resources & Environment. The MMAPLE model was being advocated for use in other grants by advisors and staff of the LCCMR and other funders such as the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The Trust for Public Land
2610 University Ave W, Ste 300
St. Paul, MN 55114
$1,500,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the Trust for Public Land to acquire a portion of 12 acres for Frogtown Farm and Park to be established as a St. Paul city park.
The Frogtown area of St. Paul is a culturally diverse, low-income neighborhood having less green space per child than any other neighborhood in the city and was recently identified as an area in need of a new park. This appropriation is being used by The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the City of St. Paul, to acquire a portion of twelve acres of a currently vacant space in the area to establish the multi-purpose Frogtown Farm and Park. The vision for the space is to provide a safe space for neighborhood children to experience nature and families to recreate while simultaneously acting as a demonstration urban farm for community members to learn about growing food locally as a vehicle for advancing self-sufficiency, environmental stewardship, healthy living, and community collaboration.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
On December 4, 2013, The Trust for Public Land acquired +/- 13 acres from the Wilder Foundation and conveyed it to the City of Saint Paul. The land will be used to create Frogtown Farm and Park - a much-needed public green space for this culturally diverse, low-income neighborhood. The new Frogtown Farm and Park will include a six-acre urban demonstration farm, a recreation area, and a nature sanctuary that preserves a grove of large mature oak trees. When complete, this urban park will be the site of a variety of activities demonstrating green and sustainable inner-city living and providing exceptional educational opportunities.
The land was purchased for $2,200,000. Of that, $1,498,000 was from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and $702,000 was from the City of St. Paul.
Creation of this public park and demonstration farm will advance environmental and social justice, and strengthen residents' self-sufficiency, environmental stewardship, healthy living and community collaboration. The project furthers the LCCMR Six-Year Strategic Plan in multiple ways including: protecting important land resources (especially the oak grove), supporting research and demonstration projects of natural resources, supporting community based conservation, encouraging outdoor recreation, and promoting public education and dissemination of information about natural resources (for both students and community residents).
The City of Saint Paul has put the project out to bid, and construction is expected to begin on the initial park and farm improvements in the summer of 2015.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
This project is highlighted on The Trust for Public Land's website at: http://www.tpl.org/our-work/parks-for-people/frogtown-park-and-farm
The Trust for Public Land also issued a press release with the City of Saint Paul: http://www.tpl.org/media-room/frogtown-park-deal-finalized
There have also been a number of news stories covering this project.
Susan M. Galatowitsch
University of Minnesota
135 Skok Hall
2003 Upper Buford Circle
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
$200,000 from Laws 2009, chapter 143, section 2, subdivision 8, paragraph (b), Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, as amended by Laws 2011, First Special Session, chapter 2, article 3, section 2, subdivision 18, paragraph (a), clause (8), is transferred to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for evaluation of lands restored using money from the trust fund. The lands to be evaluated shall be identified and prioritized in consultation with the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Ecological restorations aim to aid the recovery of native ecosystems that have been degraded or lost. However, very seldom are restorations evaluated past the initial implementation phase to determine whether the efforts achieved their goals and the funds spent were a strategic conservation investment. Monitoring and evaluation of restorations can teach what works and what does not in order to advance restoration practices and increase the likelihood of success for future projects. The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund has funded restoration activities on hundreds of thousands of acres since its inception. The University of Minnesota is using this appropriation to evaluate the outcomes and effectiveness of some of those restoration efforts in order to inform and improve future land restoration techniques and best practices and future state investments in restoration activities.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
In 2013 LCCMR requested an evaluation of ENRTF restorations, from 1990-2010, to assess ecological outcomes of past projects, to determine factors tied to successful outcomes, and to develop evaluation criteria for proposed and completed projects. Our evaluation was based on information gathered from LCCMR files (450 projects), project manager files (78 projects), project manager interviews (59 projects) and field surveys (59 projects). Project managers were interviewed to gain insight into restoration process and organizational capacity to implement restorations. To quantify the extent of ecological recovery of each site we calculated: 1) proportion of plant species considered part of the potential natural vegetation following DNR Native Plant Community manuals (%PNV) and 2) an index of abundances of invasive species (CISA). These two parameters were used to classify ecological condition as high, medium or low quality. High quality restorations were those with greater than average %PNV and lower than average CISA; low quality restorations have the opposite scores, i.e., lower than average %PNV and higher than average CISA. 32% of projects evaluated were deemed high quality and 27% low quality. Using contingency analysis, we screened a variety of factors related to site history, organizational capacity, and type of ecosystem to determine which have the greatest potential to predict post-restoration ecological condition. This analysis found that starting condition, type of ecosystem, and an organization's internal capacity have the strongest effect on restoration outcome. Restorations of highly altered sites are much riskier than those undertaken on remnant natural areas, and so are less likely to result in high quality outcomes. Restorations of forests are riskier than prairie or wetland restoration. Common problems hindering restoration teams' capacity to keep their ecological restoration projects on track are inadequate staffing and expertise, insufficient funds, incomplete records, and leadership change: Evaluation guidelines, monitoring protocols, planning tool documents are included with the final report.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The results of this project have been (or will be) disseminated in several ways:
23070 N Lakeshore Dr
Glenwood, MN 56334
$1,200,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey, the University of Minnesota, and the University of St. Thomas to continue development and implementation of monitoring, modeling, and reporting protocols for Minnesota lakes to be used in water and fisheries management. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Minnesota's environment is changing in response to a variety of stressors - including population growth, residential development, industry, agriculture, invasive species, and climate change - and the state's iconic lakes, and the goods and services they provide (e.g., fishing and water recreation), are an important part of what's being impacted. To manage effectively for these changes it is important to understand how the state's many lakes respond to these stressors. This includes knowing baseline habitat conditions, observing long-term changes to the baseline, and developing models that can forecast the risks posed and expected impacts of various stressors. In 2009 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began an ambitious long-term monitoring effort of 24 "sentinel" lakes throughout the state specifically identified to represent the breath of basic conditions (e.g., water chemistry, habitat conditions, fishery types, surrounding ecosystem types) present in Minnesota's most common aquatic environments. The DNR is using this appropriation to continue and expand on that effort to develop and implement improved monitoring, modeling, and reporting protocols that will provide timely information on lake trends, reduce uncertainty about potential causes, and guide conservation approaches for improving water quality, reversing problematic trends, and preventing further degradation into the future.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Phase 2 of the Sentinel Lakes Long-Term Monitoring Program comprised a wide variety of monitoring and research activities on the 25 Sentinel Lakes selected to provide representation of Minnesotass major lake-types. During 2013-2016, the Sentinel Lakes Program continued to integrate the activities of key, collaborative agencies and partners (e.g. DNR, MPCA, USGS, and universities) which focus on determining the effects of large-scale ecological stressors (e.g., eutrophication, invasive species, and climate changes) on lake ecosystems. Highlights include:
The information gathered during the second phase of Sentinel Lakes sampling continues to provide insights useful to lake managers. The continued ability to collect water quality, zooplankton, fisheries, aquatic vegetation, and land use data over consecutive years from a set suite of lakes has added to the strong foundation of long-term monitoring that was established during the first phase of the project (2009 to 2013). Refining metrics and more fully developing our understanding of how they react to specific ecological stressors will continue to assist managers faced with developing management strategies and practices in lakes. The value to fisheries and lake managers is perhaps most evident in the Department of Natural Resource's commitment to hire and fund a full-time Sentinel Lakes coordinator position. That internally funded position was filled in May of 2016 and will provide project continuity going forward.
As was the case in Phase 1 we again included partner institutions with different areas of expertise, thus the project was able to gain valuable insights into 1) how lake systems in agricultural zones function (USGS), 2) how Chironomid (midge) populations may serve as important indicators of trophic status (University of Minnesota), and 3) how stable isotope analysis can lead to fuller understanding of the effects invasive species such as zebra mussels have on lake food webs (University of St. Thomas). The techniques developed by partners as well as their final results should provide valuable tools and information for some time to come.
Continued, consecutive, sampling of Cisco populations has not only furthered our understanding of their population dynamics and their vulnerability to climate change and invasive species but has also added to the development of specific methods for monitoring this important climate- and land-use sensitive species in lakes across the state.
Finally, the project has become an excellent training tool for undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. More than a dozen undergraduates have been able to gain valuable field experience and mentoring from research staff over the course of the project. The project has also served as a valuable entry point into fisheries for early-career professionals.
Much of the focus of disseminating information gathered during the project has been focused on a scientific audience but with an emphasis on making that information relevant to lake and fisheries managers. To that end, all collaborators past and present were invited to attend and present their findings at a Sentinel Lakes Summit which was held in Brainerd in 2015. Over 50 managers from DNR and PCA attended the event. A similar event is being planned for 2017. Additionally, a number of manuscripts covering a wide variety of topics are currently being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed publications. Already a number of presentations have been made at national, regional, and state-level professional meetings.
For general audiences the Department of Natural Resources maintains a series of Sentinel Lakes-related pages on their website (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fisheries/slice/index.html) and the Pollution Control Agency hosts Sentinel Lake Assessment reports on their website (https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/sentinel-lakes).
Stephen Monson Geerts
U of MN - NRRI
5013 Miller Trunk Hwy
Duluth, MN 55811
$585,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey to assess impacts of existing mineralization and potential mining on northeastern Minnesota regional water quality, including impacts from copper, nickel, and other metal concentrations in rocks, streambed sediments, and soils in areas of potential base-metal mining. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Large deposits of copper, nickel, cobalt, and other minerals in northeastern Minnesota could provide huge economic and employment benefits to the state while becoming an important source of important metals for the country. However, the mining required to extract them could have significant water quality impacts in a region that includes the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness and other environmentally sensitive watersheds. Up-to-date and accurate geochemical data is needed In order to assess and predict water quality impacts of potential mining and inform decision-making to protect water quality and sensitive ecosystems. Scientists at the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to gather baseline data for assessing how existing concentrations of these metals in rocks, streambeds, and soils currently influence regional water quality. This information is a critical component for examining the risks posed by any potential future mining.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Natural Resources Research Institute, the U. S. Geological Survey, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conducted a three-year study to 1) assess copper, nickel, and other metal concentrations in surface water, bedrock, streambed sediments, and soils in watersheds where the basal part of the Duluth Complex is exposed or near the land surface; and 2) determine if these concentrations, and metal-bearing deposits, are currently influencing regional water quality in areas of potential base-metal mining. The data will be used by Federal, State, local, and tribal entities to better assess background water-quality in watersheds with existing mineralization and where mining could occur. Surface-water, streambed sediment, soil, and bedrock samples were collected and analyzed in three largely undisturbed watersheds with different mineral-deposit settings: (1) copper-nickel-platinum group metal mineralization (Spruce Road deposit - Filson Creek watershed), (2) iron-titanium-oxide mineralization (Skibo deposit - upper part of the St. Louis River watershed), and (3) no identified mineralization (Keeley Creek watershed). Streamflow also was monitored in the three watersheds at continuous streamflow gages and through discharge measurements to determined estimates of trace metal and inorganic constituent loads.
The geochemistry of surface waters and streambed sediments reflects the geochemistry of underlying rock types and glacially transported unconsolidated material. Water-quality data also suggest that streamflow influences concentrations of major constituents, such as Ca, Mg, and K, with lower concentrations during high flow, but has little apparent influence on metal concentrations. Copper-nickel mineralization in the northern Filson Creek watershed contributes both metals to stream waters and streambed sediment. All trace metals concentrations in all surface-water samples were below human-health guidelines and aquatic life standards established by the state of Minnesota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dissolved and total organic carbon (DOC and TOC) concentrations in surface waters are very high compared to most surface waters in Minnesota, ranging from 13.7 to 41.4 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in all watersheds. Results from biotic-ligand modeling suggest that the high DOC content may exert some control on copper concentrations in water, such that complexation with DOC may reduce the bioaccessibility of copper.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
A U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report (SIR) is being completed for colleague and USGS review that will summarize analytical results, present interpretations of bedrock, soil, streambed sediment, and water-quality data, and describe conceptual hydrology for the three watersheds (once published, the report will be available through the USGS Publication Warehouse at https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/). A draft of the report will be completed for review by June 30, 2017, and an on-line version of the report will completed by December 31, 2017. At that time, a pdf version of the report will be sent to LCCMR staff.
Numerous oral and poster presentations were given at geologic, water-quality, and hydrologic conferences in the State outlining project results. These presentations also were given at meetings with federal (U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), state (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health), local, and tribal agencies, mining companies, and university researchers.
All of the data collected and complied during this study is too large to be included in the appendix tables of the final LCCMR report, however the data is available in several databases. Geochemical data for bedrock, soils, and streambed samples were entered and stored in the USGS National Geochemical Database (http://minerals.cr.usgs.gov/projects/geochem_database/index.html). Metal and major constituent concentrations for water samples collected in the project were entered and stored in the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis). All continuous streamflow data and streamflow measurements were entered and are available in USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis.
Heron Lake Watershed District
1008 3rd Ave, PO Box 345
Heron Lake, MN 56137
$122,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for an agreement with the Heron Lake Watershed District for public outreach and installation and monitoring of water quality improvement projects. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Once known for its clean water, fertile soil, and healthy habitat, in more recent times the Heron Lake Watershed in southwestern Minnesota has been heavily impacted by pollution from intensive agriculture, feedlots, non-compliant septic systems, and urban stormwater runoff. The Heron Lake Watershed District is using this appropriation for public outreach and installation and monitoring of water quality improvement projects aimed at reducing sediment and nutrient loading for the benefit of public health, recreation, and wildlife habitat.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Heron Lake watershed, approximately 472 square miles, is located within portions of Nobles, Jackson, Murray, and Cottonwood Counties in southwestern Minnesota. Heron Lake, a public water of the State of Minnesota, is impaired for phosphorus. Decreasing the amount of phosphorus and sediment entering Heron Lake would be valuable for reducing water pollution. The Heron Lake Watershed District Watershed Management Plan and county water plans recognize on-the-ground projects as the most effective way to address phosphorus and sediment.
Funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund was used to install projects in Nobles, Jackson, and Murray Counties. They included a biodetention basin, multiple water and sediment control basins, a bioretention basin, and a streambank stabilization. The purpose of these projects was to reduce sediment and nutrient loads into streams and lakes. The projects affected more than 300 acres and have an estimated reduction rate of 620 pounds of phosphorus and 575 tons of sediment per year. The grant dollars covered 75 percent of the project costs, with the landowner paying 25 percent.
Funds were also used to gather water samples at three sites in the watershed - Jack Creek, Okabena Creek, and the Heron Lake Outlet. The water samples were analyzed and compared to data gathered since 1996. The Jack Creek and Okabena Creek sampling sites decreased in phosphorus. Okabena Creek showed an increase. All sites showed a reduction in sediment.
Plans were made to visit three project sites in April of 2016. A newsletter summarizing the grant activities and promoting the project site tour was distributed to approximately 3,500 watershed residents, agency personnel, and legislators. Attending the event were eleven members of the general public, one Board of Water and Soil Resources staff, two news reporters, two Heron Lake Watershed District board members and three employees.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Over the course of the grant period, information about the grant was presented at many meetings and events. Each year annual reports contained a project summary. The grant activities were summarized in a newsletter which was distributed to approximately 3,500 watershed residents, agency personnel, and legislators. In addition, reporters published articles regarding the project site tour in the Daily Globe, Tri County News, and Fulda Free Press.
Le Sueur County
88 S Park Ave
Le Center, MN 56057
$463,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources for an agreement with Le Sueur County to install shoreland and agricultural best management practices to improve water quality for up to 14 lakes in a tri-county area in southern Minnesota. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Lakes and streams located in Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Waseca Counties provide important public benefits such as hydrologic storage, economic and recreational opportunities, and regional water quality improvement. However, several of the lakes and streams have been listed as impaired because of excess nutrients and sediment from runoff. Le Sueur County is using this appropriation to install shoreland and agricultural best management practices such as wetland enhancements, infiltration basins, stream restoration, and native plantings to improve the water quality of up to 11 lakes in the region.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Grant consisted of 14 projects spread out in a region that covered Le Sueur, Blue Earth and Waseca Counties and provided environmental benefits to a number of different bodies of water.
In Blue Earth County, one project on Madison Lake was completed.
In Waseca County, two shoreline projects were completed on Clear Lake.
Five projects total were completed in the City of Waterville and resulted in reduced pollutant loads to a number of different waterbodies. A stream shoreline stabilization project and two retention areas were constructed along White Water Creek which directly flows into Upper Sakatah Lake. Two large stormwater projects were completed near the City's water tower that discharges to the Cannon River directly before it enters Upper Sakatah Lake.
Six additional projects were done throughout Le Sueur County. Including wetland enhancements were completed at two Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA). These projects created enhanced areas for waterfowl as well as providing pollutant reductions.
Information about the projects has been discussed at numerous city, county and lake association meetings. Information on the projects and the grant are posted on Le Sueur County's website and has been submitted to local papers for publication. The City of Waterville will be sending out an informational insert in upcoming water bills. A science teacher at the Waterville public school utilizes the rain garden for his classes. Articles have been published in the Waterville paper about the different projects being constructed. The City also is in the planning stages to hold an on-site open house celebration for the City Water Tower Projects.
Red Lake Watershed District
1000 Pennington Avenue South
Thief River Falls, MN 56701
$400,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the Red Lake Watershed District in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey to compare the hydrology of habitats before and after restorations to evaluate and quantify the impacts on flood reduction and water quality in order to inform improvements to restoration techniques. The United States Geologic Survey is not subject to the requirements in Minnesota Statutes, section 116P.10. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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). The Red Lake Watershed District and USGS are using this appropriation to conduct a post restoration study that will quantify and evaluate the amount of flood reduction, water-quality improvement, and ecosystem-function change that has resulted from the wetland and prairie restoration efforts at Glacial Ridge. This information will be used to guide future restoration efforts throughout the state and beyond.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
A comparison between the hydrology of the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge before and after wetland and prairie restoration shows substantial changes in flows of water through the hydrologic cycle, in behavior of overland runoff and ditch flow during storms, and in water quality. Within the 6 basins measured for this study, the area of cropland decreased by 14 percent, the area of wetlands increased by 6 percent, and the area of native prairie increase by 19 percent between 2002 and 2015 due to restorations. During the same period, hydrologic changes had the benefits of decreasing runoff rate (-33 percent, as a proportion of precipitation) and ditch flow rate(-23 percent) and improving water quality as measured by nitrate concentration (surficial groundwater median: -79 percent, ditchwater median: -53 percent) and suspended sediment in ditchwater (-64 percent) within the study area. Peak ditch flow from storms decreased, ditch flow recessions lengthened, and base flow from groundwater discharge increased, though only a small amount. These changes reduce the amount of water leaving the study area through ditches, reducing flows that contribute to flooding.
Neither the density of restorations nor the beneficial changes in hydrology were evenly distributed throughout the study area. Amount of hydrologic benefits within an individual ditch basin did not correlate directly with amount of restoration in that basin. This is likely because of complicating factors within each basin like the kind of land restored, the amount of surficial aquifer, the amount of remaining ditches, and the density of closed wetland and lake basins.
An analysis of landscape characteristics that correlated with hydrologic benefits in the study area showed that area of surficial aquifer and area of drained wetlands are most important. Surficial aquifers provide a groundwater reservoir that can reduce runoff and slowly release water as base flow to streams. Drained wetlands simply provide the opportunity for restoration of closed basins, which reduces streamflow. Areas with the highest density of surficial aquifers and drained wetlands have the highest potential for hydrologic benefits from prairie and wetland restoration. In western Minnesota, these areas are the uplands the Alexandria Moraine Complex and the beaches of Glacial Lake Agassiz on the eastern side of the western third of Minnesota, north of Wilmar, MN (Cowdery and others, 2017).
Cowdery, T.K., Christenson, C.A., and Zeigwied, J.R., 2017, The hydrologic benefits of wetland and prairie restoration in western Minnesota: lessons learned at the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, 2002–15: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017-xxxx, in preparation.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The information generated by this grant will be documented in a U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report that is in preparation. A draft of the report is attached to the project work plan. We expect the final draft of the report will be completed by 15 August. 2017. The report must be reviewed and approved, which we expect will occur by 31 October 2017. Once published, we will issue press announcements of the project results regionally and nationally. Additionally, the information in this report will be presented at several scientific meetings including that of the Minnesota Groundwater Association, the Minnesota Water-Resources Conference, and at annual conference of either the Geological Society of America or the American Geophysical Union. Presentations of interim result from this project have already been presented at meetings of the Minnesota Groundwater Association, the past Minnesota Water-Resources Conferences.
U of MN - Duluth
10 University Dr, RLB-109
Duluth, MN 55812
$600,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to evaluate impacts to Lake Superior from a changing thermal structure and invasive species in order to implement lake water quality management strategies. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area, is amongst Minnesota's greatest natural resources providing drinking water, shipping, recreation, and tourism. Recently the lake has been undergoing significant changes including increasing water temperatures, decreasing ice cover, increasing nutrient loads, decreasing biological productivity, increasing invasive species, and changes in species abundance and distribution. The reasons behind these changes and the interactions amongst them are not well understood. Scientists at the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota - Duluth are using this appropriation to gather critical baseline data on Lake Superior to evaluate the impacts these changes are having on the lake and how natural resource managers and scientific and regulatory entities can best respond to the changes. No prior large lake study has ever included the breadth of measurements, geographic range, and span of seasons to be examined by this study.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Although Lake Superior seems timeless, it has been changing dramatically—with shifting temperatures, ice cover, storminess, and biological activity. This project worked to build our knowledge of how the lake responds to external processes, including climate change and the introduction of invasive species. This will help us to protect and foster this resource during a time of unprecedented change.
We used state-of-the-art techniques to evaluate the lake’s behavior from Fall 2013 through Fall 2016. This included an extreme range of winters—the “Polar Vortex” of 2013-14 and the mild conditions of 2015-16. Our field strategy included shipboard sampling (12 stations occupied four times each year) as well as use of autonomous gliders and moored instruments. These unmanned technologies provide cost-effective measurements at more places and times than possible with ship operations.
Major results include:
Lake circulation. Building on observations in the lake, we created a hydrodynamic numerical model of the St. Louis Estuary/Duluth Harbor/Lake Superior system that runs in real-time, providing estimates of currents and water levels across Lake Superior. Such information is useful to boaters and fishermen, and is being used in St. Louis River Estuary wastewater studies, and for studies of riverine nutrient dispersion and of nearshore wave action around the Apostle Islands
Lake acidity. We quantified seasonal shifts in lake pH due to river runoff, atmospheric inputs, and biological activity. Increased atmospheric CO2 has acidified many lakes. In Lake Superior this appears to be mitigated by reductions in acid rain after clean air legislation of the 1990s.
Algae and plankton. We now have measurements of biological productivity from 2006 through 2016. Broadly, we see increased productivity in warmer years, with lower biomass of small algae that photosynthesize rapidly. These productive small algae might dominate a future, warmer Lake Superior. Such a shift could lead to significant changes for animals higher on the food chain.
Exotic species. Our work demonstrates that the invasive spiny water flea has damaged Lake Superior’s lower food web. Our data provide a baseline for future evaluation of shifts in zooplankton.
Fish. We assessed historical patterns in growth of lake herring (cisco) using archived ear bones in combination with our current data. It appears that climate change and invasion by the spiny water flea have not greatly affected cisco growth rates to date. Nevertheless, spiny water fleas are a relatively poor prey item and could reduce growth rates of cisco that consume them.
Data obtained through this project have been utilized in proposals to the US National Science Foundation. Three successful proposals yielded ~$2.0M for Lake Superior research including 70 days of ship time. A large proportion of this funding supports personnel and thus has a real impact on our local economy.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We have worked to disseminate our results and information about Lake Superior science to the general public and the scientific community in several ways. These include: news reports on our work through print, television and radio; an ongoing social media presence; outreach events with public tours of UMD’s research vessel; and publication of results in the scientific literature.
U of MN
122 Civil Engineering Bldg, 500 Pillsbury Dr SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
$246,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to develop, optimize, and test membranes made of thin film polymers embedded with selected bacteria to generate clean water and energy in the form of hydrogen from wastewater. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Waste streams often contain unutilized resources that if properly extracted or otherwise utilized could be used to provide additional sources of renewable energy or other benefits. Wastewater is one of the primary candidate waste streams because of its nutrient content and researchers have been developing technologies such as microbial fuel cells and algal-based biofuel production in order make use of these nutrients. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to develop, test, and optimize another new technology that can be used to extract energy from wastewater, specifically a polymer membrane embedded with select bacteria that could be used to simultaneously improve wastewater treatment while generating renewable energy in the form of hydrogen. If effective the technology is likely to be scalable with broad application potential for use with any biodegradable liquid waste stream.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
In this project we developed a technology that could extract energy from wastewater: a polymer film containing bacteria that generate hydrogen (a clean energy source) while cleaning the wastewater. The system also contained a mesh of small, permeable tubes ("fibers") for efficient hydrogen collection. A finding of this study was that the wastewater treated needed to be high strength to generate adequate quantities of hydrogen. This type of high strength wastewater is produced by food and sugar beet processing facilities, and dairies, among other industries, and is plentiful throughout Minnesota. This technology efficiently produced and collected hydrogen in the laboratory with synthetic wastewater and wastewater from a dairy and a sugar beet processor. When used with vacuum gas collection, the exit gas was approximately 51% hydrogen, which is suitable for use in a fuel cell or for direct combustion. The system was also deployed at a pilot-scale at a brewery and was able to produce and collect hydrogen from the brewery wastewater. After further optimization for ease of scale-up and manufacture, the composite membrane system could allow the extraction of high-quality energy from wastewater while also saving industries on their treatment fees and reducing the need for expensive centralized treatment. In fact, based on our (un-optimized) results, the hydrogen generated in the Metro area would yield approximately $82,000/yr through electricity generation. This same assumption yields over $312,000/yr from the sugar beet industry in the state through electricity generation. This does not include the cost savings associated with reduced treatment fees, which for two Metro area processors alone exceeds $1,000,000/year/company. A patent application was submitted on this technology and has been approved; the University of Minnesota is exploring commercialization and licensing options. A peer-reviewed manuscript was published from this work and has been submitted to the LCCMR.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information from this project has been shared with several large water technology companies in Minnesota who may have the interest and capability to assist in optimizing and eventually deploying this technology for large-scale energy production from wastewater. Information from this project has also been shared with personnel from the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, who treat the high strength wastewater of many large food- and beverage-processing plants, the sugar beet industry, and the brewery at which the pilot study was performed. As stated above, a peer-reviewed manuscript was published from this work and has been submitted to the LCCMR. Multiple presentations about the research have been given at both regional and national/international conferences. Additional funding has been obtained from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to study and improve the scalability and manufacturability of the technology and optimize it for deployment.
2115 Summit Ave, OSS 402
2208 Woodale Dr
St. Paul, MN 55105
$203,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the University of St. Thomas to measure antibiotic concentrations and antibiotic resistance levels and assess the contributions of farm runoff and wastewater treatment in a portion of the Mississippi River. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Thomas, Gustavus Adolphus College, and the University of Minnesota will continue work focused on the threats posed by antibiotics to understand which antibiotics are of the most concern - for example, because of their potential to increase antibiotic resistance - and to delineate their urban and rural sources. The first phase focused on antibiotics in the Minnesota River and this phase will focus on the Mississippi River. Findings will help develop strategies to manage threats and minimize future impacts posed by antibiotics to human and ecological health.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
This project was Phase 2 of a two-part ENRTF-funded study designed to examine the significance of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in Minnesota surface waters. Both phases of the study analyzed the following:
Phase 1, which ended in 2013, focused on a portion of the Minnesota River basin. The results showed that municipal wastewater treatment plants were a significant source of antibiotics, resistance genes, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria; elevated levels of all three were found in waters impacted by wastewater treatment plant effluent. These findings motivated Phase 2, where the focus shifted to surface waters that serve as drinking water sources and tap water samples and therefore a more direct potential connection to human health impacts. Based on the results of Phase 1, we decided to focus primarily on antibiotics used in human rather than agricultural medicine.
Phase 2 initially focused on the Mississippi River, including St. Cloud, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Discussions with the Drinking Water Protection section of the Minnesota Department of Health about sites potentially impacted by wastewater led us to expand our study to Ely (Burntside Lake), Grand Marais (Lake Superior), Moorhead (Red River) and Burnsville (Kramer quarry). In general, no measurable antibiotic concentrations, no elevated levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and no antibiotic resistance genes were found in drinking water sources. Development of a new membrane filtration technique allowed us to find antibiotic resistance genes in tap water samples at extremely low levels; the importance of these exceptionally low levels with respect to human health is unclear.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Four St. Thomas undergraduate students have presented this work at American Chemical Society national meetings; two in 2014, one in 2015, and one in 2016. Dwight Stoll (Gustavus Adolphus) presented at the Quality Assurance meeting of Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency in Fall 2015. Kris Wammer (St. Thomas) has presented this work at two national meetings; the Fall 2015 Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry meeting in Salt Lake City, and the Fall 2016 ACS meeting in Philadelphia. A manuscript detailing the findings from this work is also currently in preparation. In addition, we have in the past and will continue to engage relevant personnel at the state level, in particular from state agencies such as MDH, through meetings and formal talks. The MN One Health Antibiotic Stewardship Collaborative, which both Tim LaPara and Kris Wammer participate in, will help facilitate continued interactions with Minnesota stakeholders.
U of M - Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
135 Skok Hall
2003 Upper Buford Circle
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
$4,350,000 the first year and $4,350,000 the second year are from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to develop and support an aquatic invasive species (AIS) research center at the University of Minnesota that will develop new techniques to control aquatic invasive species including Asian carp, zebra mussels, and plant species. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2019, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Aquatic invasive species pose critical ecological and economic challenges for the entire state and beyond. They can cause irreparable harm to fisheries and aquatic habitat as well as damage to infrastructure. The problems posed by aquatic invasive species continue to grow as existing infestations expand and new exotic species arrive, most of which are poorly understood. New ideas and approaches are needed to develop real solutions. In 2012 the Minnesota Legislature provided the University of Minnesota with $3,800,000 ($2,000,000 from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund; $1,800,000 from the Clean Water Fund) to launch a new, first-of-its-kind research center specifically focused on developing and implementing solutions to control aquatic invasive species. This appropriation provides this new center with additional initial operating funds for conducting research aimed at slowing the spread, reducing, controlling, and/or eradicating aquatic invasive species including Asian carp, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and more. Proven tools and techniques developed at the center are intended to be implemented statewide.
Sub-Projects M.L. 2013, 06a:
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Aquatic invasive species (AIS), including Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) and zebra mussels (ZMs) pose a serious threat to the health and function of aquatic ecosystems. Traditional approaches for AIS management, including use of chemicals and manual removal, have been ineffective. This requires development of new management and eradication strategies, such as the use of (micro)biological control agents. Some microorganisms have evolved to live in close association with aquatic organisms and such relationships could be exploited to develop microbe-mediated AIS management strategies. As the first step towards the identification of potential biocontrol strategies, microbial communities associated with ‘healthy’ AIS were compared with that of ‘diseased’ AIS or to native species. Since no natural diseased mussels were available, we opted to develop an experimental model system, which allowed for the application of different intensities of stress – heat (17, 25, 33℃) and salinity (1.5, 13.5 ppt), to promote the proliferation of opportunistic pathogens. High-throughput DNA sequencing of 414 samples (providing 32 million DNA reads) resulted in the identification of several potentially ‘pathogenic’ microbial groups that were strongly associated with ZM mortality. These included Aeromonas, Chryseobacterium, Flavobacterium, Acidaminobacter, Clostridiaceae 1 sp., Rhodobacteraceae sp., Acinetobacter, Shewanella, and Clostridium sensu stricto 13. For the identification of EWM-specific microbiota, high-throughput DNA sequencing was performed on 315 samples (46 million reads) derived from leaf and root compartments of EWM and six native macrophyte species. This resulted in the identification of taxa that were significantly enriched in EWM leaves and roots compared to native plants. Though several AIS-associated microorganisms were isolated that could be pathogenic to invasive mussels (e.g. Aeromonas) - none of them met our safety requirements for further testing. Future studies must isolate and evaluate the efficacy of ‘host-specific and pathogenic’ biocontrol candidates that will only infect invasive mussel species.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Our research findings were disseminated via oral and poster presentations at the following (international/ national/ local) conferences: 61st International Association for Great Lakes Research conference (Toronto, Canada), UNC Water Microbiology Conference 2019 (Chapel Hill, NC), 20th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (Fort Lauderdale, FL), 5th Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference (Rochester, MN), 119th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (San Francisco, CA), and the AIS Research Management Showcase in 2017 & 2018 (St. Paul, MN). Two papers were published in the journals ‘FEMS Microbiology Ecology’ and ‘Science of the Total Environment’ during this project period. One manuscript is currently undergoing peer-review and two additional manuscripts are under preparation. All sequencing data generated in this project will be publicly available (via submission to NCBI Genbank) and all publications will list accession numbers to link to short read archive of all samples. Thus far, all sequence data mentioned in current publications is directly linked to a publicly available web site for download.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
This project aimed to test new management tools for the common carp, Minnesota’s most abundant invasive fish. We used a whole lake experiment to test if bluegill sunfish can reduce production of carp fry in shallow lakes (Activity 1). We also used a series of lab, pond and lake experiments to test if corn-based food pellets that contain a toxin can be used to selectively target carp without harming native fish (Activities 2, 3, 4). Activity 1 (bluegill experiment in 6 small lakes) showed that bluegills can suppress the production of carp fry in shallow lakes by 8-fold. Thus, maintaining healthy bluegill populations in lakes would serve as an important biocontrol strategy for carp in Minnesota.
Activities 2, 3, and 4 showed that common carp readily consume corn pellets that contain a toxin (Antimycin-A, ANTA) and cannot distinguish between pellets with or without the toxin. Further, in a pond experiment with carp and three native species (white sucker, bluegill, yellow perch), only carp ate the toxic pellets and perished. Finally, in a natural lake experiment where we tagged nearly 500 carp and 900 native fish, only carp were attracted to corn-based pellets (we did not use toxin in the lake experiment). This was further verified using underwater cameras. Overall, corn-based food pellets appear to be very powerful and relatively species-specific attractant for carp. Toxins, such as ANTA, could be incorporated into such pellets to target carp. Our work also showed that corn (without toxin) can be used as bait to train carp to form large feeding aggregations that could be targeted using simpler and safer means than toxins, such as nets.
Future directions might include: 1) Focusing on risks and costs associated with using corn-based pellets that contain ANTA or other toxins to control common carp, 2) Focusing on how baiting with corn can be used to induce large feeding aggregations of carp than could be removed with nets. This is being addressed in Phase III.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information collected in these experiments were disseminated and will continue to be disseminated in a variety of ways. Presentations were given at MAISRC showcases, the Minnesota and National American Fisheries Society meetings, and will be given at the International Conference for Invasive Species.
Two manuscripts have been published:
One manuscript has been submitted for publication:
Raymond M. Newman
U of M - Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
135 Skok Hall
2003 Upper Buford Circle
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
PART A: Manipulating sunfish to enhance milfoil weevils - $167,080 TF
PART B: factors influencing selective herbicide control of curlyleaf pondweed - $27,335 TF
PART A: OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is one of the most widespread and problematic invasive aquatic plants in Minnesota. Approaches to improve its management are needed to reduce economic and ecological costs of invasive control. We focused on assessing factors that limit biological control of Eurasian watermilfoil by the native milfoil weevil and other herbivores.
Enclosure experiments to assess the effect of sunfish predation on herbivore and milfoil abundance were largely unsuccessful. Weevil populations developed in the enclosures but there were no differences in weevil or milfoil abundance due to fish stocking. We failed to recover stocked fish from the enclosures and suspect that predation by herons removed the fish. Realistic enclosure experiments in natural lakes may not be feasible and experimental manipulations might be better conducted in small natural or artificial ponds or in large tanks.
We assessed herbivore abundance in metro lakes and found milfoil weevils in 12 of the 19 lakes surveyed. Herbivore abundance was higher in 2015 than 2016, but abundance during both years was lower than some prior years. Only 1 weevil was found in over 450 sunfish stomachs examined, in part due to low milfoil weevil density in many lakes. Milfoil weevil abundance was negatively correlated (r=-0.44) with sunfish abundance; lakes with high sunfish populations (> 50 sunfish/trapnet) will likely not support sufficient herbivore populations and biological control should not be considered in these lakes until sunfish are reduced.
However, some lakes with low sunfish populations also have low herbivore densities and factors other than sunfish are apparently limiting herbivores and biocontrol in these lakes. Possible limiting factors include lack of access to shoreline overwinter habitat, extensive mechanical harvesting or herbicidal control, and poor water or plant quality. Further work that also accounts for environmental variability is needed to identify factors limiting milfoil herbivores and biocontrol.
PART A: PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information on milfoil ecology and biological control has been provided on the MAISRC website and twice at the MAISRC showcase. A summary of the project was presented at the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference in La Crosse, WI. We provided overviews of our work to Ramsey-Washington Lake Association and the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council.
PART B: OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Curlyleaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) is one of the most widespread and problematic invasive aquatic plants in Minnesota. It sprouts from turions (winter buds) in the fall and winter and grows rapidly to the surface in the spring before senescing in early summer. Selective control can be attained with early-season herbicide treatments.
To provide an analysis of factors affecting curlyleaf abundance in untreated and herbicide-treated lakes, we collated pre-existing data from a variety of agencies and researchers; we analyzed data on curlyleaf pondweed frequency of occurrence and relative density from 60 lakes across Minnesota. The lakes had surveys conducted in May (pretreatment timing) or June (peak curlyleaf coverage) between 2006-2015; several lakes had data for all ten years. Forty-nine lakes had data for years not treated with herbicide, with one to eight years of data from each (mean of three years). Twenty-two lakes had data associated with curlyleaf pondweed herbicide treatments (one to nine years of treatment; mean of 3.8 years).
For the untreated lakes, productivity (as indicated by prior summer Secchi depth) and over-winter conditions (snow cover or ice duration) were important predictors of curlyleaf with greater curlyleaf abundance in lakes with higher productivity and milder overwinter conditions (shorter duration of ice cover and lesser snow depth). For herbicide treated lakes, consecutive years of treatment was also important; early season abundance decreased with more years of prior treatment. There were diminishing returns from repeated treatment and curlyleaf abundance can rebound quickly once treatment stops. June density and frequency appeared less affected by overwinter conditions and more by spring growing conditions and the effect of treatment that year. Mild winters will likely result in more abundant populations that spring, and managers should plan for more extensive treatments following mild winters. Repeated treatments will decrease curlyleaf frequency and abundance, but must be sustained.
PART B: PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information on curlyleaf pondweed ecology and control has been provided on the MAISRC website and at the MAISRC showcase. The results of the curlyleaf pondweed analysis were presented at the 56th Annual meeting of the Aquatic Plant Management Society in Grand Rapids, MI and a summary of the analysis was presented at the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference in La Crosse, WI. We provided overviews of our work to Ramsey-Washington Lake Association and the State of Waters Conference. We plan to develop and submit a manuscript on the curlyleaf pondweed responses to a peer-reviewed journal by July 2017. The data set assembled and organized will also be used by a graduate student to further assess the response of native plants to curlyleaf pondweed abundance and control.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Heterosporosis is an emerging disease of concern in Minnesota that is caused by the parasite Heterosporis sutherlandae. It damages fish muscle and renders them inedible. Heterosporosis was discovered in Leech Lake in 1990 and has since been detected in ~30 waterbodies and in over a dozen species. Heterosporosis was identified as a high research priority by the 2014 MAISRC Research Needs Assessment because it can infect up to 40% of fish and we knew little about the disease or its population-level effects. Our objectives were to collect data to better understand this disease, and to estimate the threat that heterosporosis poses to perch harvest in a typical Minnesota lake.
We collected perch and other fishes from Leech Lake seasonally from fall 2015 to winter 2017, and from Cass and Winnibigoshish lakes in fall 2015 and 2016. Heterosporosis was rare among all species, seasons, and lakes. We detected the disease in only 9% of perch, and 20-30% of these fish had visible muscle damage. Heterosporosis did vary seasonally, and infected perch were not more susceptible to angling. In the lab, we found a 32-34% infection rate when fish were fed infected tissue and a 2-17% infection rate with passive transmission from cohabitating healthy and infected fish. We found no evidence of a relationship between growth or survival and infection.
We used this and other information to develop a population model that suggested that heterosporosis can have short-term impacts on yellow perch harvest (e.g., in a naïve population or after a bad year), but that long-term impacts are unlikely. Sensitivity analysis indicated that disease associated parameters had little effect on overall harvest. Based on the results of this project, we do not consider heterosporosis to be a significant threat to Minnesota fish, but recommend further research to improve the model, because threats to aquaculture or laboratory fish may be higher.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We generated a heterosporosis fact sheet that is available on the MAISRC website (http://www.maisrc.umn.edu/fishdisease/) and was distributed to participating resorts and an interested fishing guide. We have maintained contact with two resorts (one on Leech Lake and one on Cass Lake), both of which contributed angler log book data that we used to estimate heterosporosis prevalence. We also had many positive conversations with individuals who approached us during field work. We have given numerous presentations of this work to a combined audience of over 300 researchers, managers, policymakers, and stakeholders. These include three presentations at MAISRC Showcase events, a presentation at the MN DNR’s summer 2017 Fisheries Research Meeting, presentations at four academic conferences, and internally at the University of Minnesota. Our research has been highlighted in local and national media outlets, and our first paper is currently in review with the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health. Masters student Megan Tomamichel was recently awarded a competitive, $2,500 Judd Fellowship through the University of Minnesota to travel to Chile and adapt her model to sea lice infestations in salmon farms.
One possible component to an effective integrated pest management plan for aquatic invasive species would be through the introduction or promotion of species-specific pathogens. This high-risk, high-reward approach must be carefully assessed with thorough investigation and scientifically justified risk assessment. In Phase II of this long-term effort, we characterized the virome invasive and native fish species and zebra mussels. We achieved our ultimate goal of this project and identified a candidate virus (koi herpes virus) that caused high mortality in common carp and was not detected in native fish species – this virus will be the focus of Phase III. We also identified many other novel and undescribed viruses in health and dead fish, however the implications of these results are unknown and warrant additional research to better understand the threat to native species and/or potential as biocontrol agents. The virome of zebra mussels was also interesting with lower viral diversity than the fish species investigated; however, no viruses emerged as potential zebra mussel biocontrol candidates from field samples or laboratory trials.
This study emphasized the value of advanced molecular approaches to unbiased viral discovery and diagnostics. The methods we developed and optimized for sample collection, processing, and sequence analysis (all together called a ‘pipeline’), have informed testing protocols at the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. We have also elevated awareness among managers that viral diversity is much higher than currently known and deserves more attention as early indicators of potential threats.
The project team spent considerable time during Phase II engaging with managers, scientists, and the public in multiple formats. It is important that this type of research is transparent and understandable to all stakeholders. To that end, we held formal in person meetings, attended local-national-international scientific conferences, published a peer-review manuscript, networked with internationally-renowned experts, produced two videos, and provided interviews for print, radio and TV media.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We had learned during Phase 1 of this project (MAISRC Sub Project 7.1) that communication, outreach and transparency were very important for this type of project. To that end, the project team has spent considerable time engaging with managers, scientists, and the public in multiple formats. This has included formal in person meetings, local-national-international scientific conferences, peer-review publication, networking with internationally-renowned experts, video production, and print, radio and TV media. A summary of this is listed below:
Formal in-person meetings: Great Lakes Fish Health Committee, MN DNR Koi Herpes Virus Working Group.
Scientific conferences: American Fisheries Society – Fish Health Section, Eastern Fish Health Workshop, MAISRC showcase (x3), International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Aquatic Invaders Summit III, Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health. NOTE: Most of these conferences were supported by non-LCCMR funding.
Peer-review publication: Padhi, S. K., I. E. Tolo, M. McEachran, A. Primus, S. K. Mor, N. B. D. Phelps. In press. Koi herpesvirus and carp edema virus: Infections and coinfections during mortality events of wild common carp in the United States. Journal of Fish Disease. Several other publications are in progress.
Networking with experts: Dr. Ken McColl, Dr. Tom Waltzek, Dr. Mikolaj Ademek, and others.
Aquatic invasive plants can lower native plant diversity, reduce habitat quality for fish and other animals, and interfere with recreation. To protect Minnesota’s water resources, steps need to be taken to prevent new invasions, control existing populations, and support recovery of native biodiversity. These efforts require sound, science-based guidance. To provide such support, we conducted research to predict invasion risk, assess ecological impacts, evaluate control efficacy, and investigate factors limiting post-control recovery of native aquatic plants. This work was applied to three target species at different stages of invasion: (1) Nitellopsis obtusa (starry stonewort), first found in Minnesota in 2015 and now known in 14 lakes; (2) Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian watermilfoil), found in 1987 and established in >300 lakes; and (3) Potamogeton crispus (curly-leaf pondweed), here for >100 years and in >750 lakes. For starry stonewort, we developed models to predict risk of further spread and prioritize search locations for statewide volunteer search efforts, experiments to determine how long starry stonewort remains can survive out of water (i.e., remain transportable by boaters), and field and lab-based control experiments to guide management. For Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed, we investigated relationships with native plant biodiversity, finding that they displace native species, an effect compounded by lower water clarity, and contribute to “biotic homogenization”—loss of ecological distinctiveness. We are investigating how to better control these invasive species and foster recovery of native vegetation by synthesizing thousands of aquatic plant surveys and management records collected in Minnesota and by conducting in-lake removal and restoration experiments. This work will continue under a follow-up project (MAISRC Subproject 8.2: Impacts of invader removal on native vegetation recovery). Our findings help Minnesotans by highlighting practices needed to protect lake ecosystems and refining approaches for preventing invasions, reducing populations of established AIS, and restoring native species.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information from this project has been disseminated through 10 peer-reviewed journal articles, 30 invited talks, 20 contributed presentations, 45 media stories, and resources published on the MAISRC website. Fully published articles (7 of the 10) are included as attachments. Project findings are being used to guide AIS spread prevention and management efforts involving the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, lake associations, and other stakeholders. This project has also contributed significantly to MAISRC Subproject 10 (“Citizen Science and Professional Training Programs to Support AIS Response”).
Since arriving in Duluth Harbor in 1989, zebra mussels have infested more than 150 inland lakes and 17 rivers and streams in MN, with rising ecologic and economic costs. Efforts to block new invasions must be focused strategically on major sources of spread. To help achieve this, we used direct, forensic-like analyses to genetically identify waters from which mussels were carried to infest MN lakes. Using our new genome sequences and methods, we genetically classified mussels from more than 70 water bodies, with more than 6,000 DNA markers per mussel (compared to 9 markers/mussel in Subproject 9.1) – providing significantly increased clarity in the analysis. We found that lakes in the Detroit Lakes, Brainerd and Alexandria regions form large, unique genetic clusters found nowhere else. Additionally, mussels from the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers, Lake Superior, and Lake Minnetonka (4 highly-likely source waters) are distinguishable from the clustered invasions with 6,000 genomic markers, but with our previous analysis of 9 markers, they were not. More research is needed across a larger, more regional landscape to determine the original sources of zebra mussels into Minnesota, but results reinforce the management message that prevention can work – there is no genetic information to support the hypothesis of a “super spreader” lake. Early and high profile infestations of zebra mussels appear to have been contained (e.g. Lake Millle Lacs). However, vectors that are moving mussels locally within lake-rich regions, need to be identified and blocked.
For the first time, we sequenced the entire zebra mussel genome, using state of the art technology that allowed mapping of genes to chromosomes with great confidence. We sequenced and measured expression of genes in tissues that control shell formation, byssal thread attachment, and survival in high temperatures—each are strong candidates for targeted gene modification. The results include a publicly accessible genome: a powerful tool for invasion biology and biocontrol researchers in Minnesota and worldwide.
SUBPROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The results from this project were regularly communicated in presentations to public and professional audiences. McCartney delivered a total of 14 public presentations on research activities and outcomes at non-scientific meetings and events, and authored or co-authored a total of nine presentations on results of this work at professional conferences, meetings, and invited seminars, including talks at the University of MN Duluth, University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and the University of Iowa. As intended in the dissemination plan, outreach was accomplished at local, state and national levels with public talks in Douglas, Hubbard, Itasca, Meeker, Otter Tail, and Stearns Counties in MN, two in Wisconsin, two in Montana and one in Iowa. Media attention on this project was high and resulted in three print news items, including two front-page feature articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A highlight was two podcasts by Montana Public Radio in which both the population genomics of spread and the genome sequencing projects were covered in detail. Our research was regularly communicated in newsletter articles posted on the MAISRC website. Information about the zebra mussel genome project in the form of a white paper, written originally for a professional audience of scientists and managers in multiple disciplines (Activity 3), but accessible to members of the public with some background in AIS1. Two publications are in process (titles below)—one in revision2 and the other to be submitted soon. Two other manuscripts are in preparation, one on invasion genomics (Activity 1), and the other reporting on sequencing and analysis of the zebra mussel genome (Activities 2 and 3). All Next Generation Sequence data from Activities 1 and 2 will be publicly available in the MAISRC Data Repository at the University of Minnesota or the National Center for Biotechnology Information database.
Early detection of invasive species is critical. However, there are few professionals addressing aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Minnesota relative to our state’s vast water resources. Furthermore, while many efforts each year seek to control AIS, there are gaps in synthesizing treatment outcomes. These gaps limit our ability to improve management and contribute to uncertainty for lake associations and others tasked with management decision-making. We developed AIS citizen science and training programs to address these challenges. Specifically, AIS Detectors trains volunteers as “eyes on the water” for AIS detection and response, and AIS Trackers educates non-professionals on AIS management and leverages monitoring data to refine management guidance. Over 820 Minnesotans have participated; more have been reached through presentations, media, and publications. To date, 299 people have become certified AIS Detectors and gone on to contribute >10,000 hours to outreach, stewardship, citizen science, and other volunteer activities, a service value >$273,000. Outgrowths of Detectors have led to additional service, including “Starry Trek”, which annually draws ~200 volunteers statewide for targeted searches for the invasive alga starry stonewort. This event, in partnership with the Minnesota DNR and colleagues from Wisconsin, has led to identification of two new starry stonewort populations and associated opportunities for rapid response; over 500 people have participated. Through AIS Trackers, we developed a new online course to educate people about AIS management and new mechanisms for analyzing AIS treatment outcomes. Over 70 people have piloted this program, which will open in 2020 to a wide audience in Minnesota and beyond. Minnesotans benefit from our work through enhanced capacity for AIS surveillance and robust training that helps professionals and non-professionals alike make better-informed management decisions. Results show that natural resources benefit when we empower Minnesotans to contribute to AIS prevention efforts through rigorous, science-based training and service programs. These programs are now well-established and will continue to be implemented under support from MAISRC, UMN Extension, and program revenue.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information from our project has been disseminated through 2 publications (attached), 16 invited talks, 11 contributed presentations, 5 webinars, 69 media stories, and online resources. This project has also contributed significantly to MAISRC Subproject 8 (“Risk assessment, control, and restoration research on aquatic invasive plant species”).
Bighead and silver carps (bigheaded carps) pose a threat to Minnesota’s waterways and there is a need to better understand their potential impacts to inform management actions. Towards this end, project researchers designed and conducted a risk assessment for bigheaded carps in Minnesota. Results from previous (Phase 1) research and a survey with risk assessment participants were used to focus the scope of the risk assessment on four potential adverse effects: impacts to game fish, non-game fish, species diversity/ecosystem resilience, and recreation (from the silver carp jumping hazard). Four watersheds were focused on, selected to be both geographically diverse and relevant to the current decision making context.
The risk assessment was conducted with the participation of twenty-three experts on bigheaded carps and Minnesota’s waterways. A workshop was held to discuss the risk assessment findings and their implications for the management of bigheaded carps in Minnesota, and 50 people attended including stakeholders, researchers, managers, decision makers, and members of the public. Insights garnered from this workshop informed the final version of the risk assessment report, “Minnesota Bigheaded Carps Risk Assessment” which was released in May 2017.
This risk assessment represents the first systematic analysis of the risks posed to Minnesota from bigheaded carps and will both justify and inform future management efforts. Specific findings from this report include that the risk from bigheaded carps varies greatly depending on the watershed and potential adverse effect considered. The risk was higher for the species diversity/ecosystem resilience and recreation potential adverse effects and for the Minnesota River-Mankato and Lower St. Croix River watersheds. These findings emphasize the need for a timely management response to protect watersheds identified as most at risk, while ensuring that any collateral damage from management actions leads to less ecological harm than bigheaded carps are likely to cause.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Project results were disseminated through conference presentations, presentations to stakeholders, media news stories, a journal article, and a project report. Professional conference presentations included: 1) The 2016 American Fisheries Society Meeting on August 24th, 2016; 2) The 2016 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference on October 18th, 2016; and 3) The 2016 Society for Risk Analysis meeting on December 13th, 2016. Project results were also presented to academics and researchers at the November 22nd, 2016 Semi-annual All-MAISRC (Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center) Meeting.
Presentations to stakeholders and members of the public included: 1) the Minnesota Invasive Carp Forum on March 10th, 2016; 2) the St. Croix River Association’s AIS Group Meeting on June 8th, 2016; 3) the MAISRC Research Showcase on September 12th, 2016; 4) the “Risk Based Management for Bigheaded Carps” workshop held to discuss project findings and implications on March 15, 2017; and 5) the Minnesota Invasive Carp Forum on March 29th, 2017. Project outcomes and findings were also covered in a news update on Minnesota Public Radio on March 15, 2017.
U of M - Duluth
1035 Kirby Drive, 207 SSB
Dultuh, Minnesota 55812
Although aquatic invasive species threaten Minnesota’s environment, economy, and recreation, we still know little about the colonization histories and ecosystem impacts of some of the state’s invaders such as spiny water flea. This project made large advances in understanding the colonization and impact of spiny water flea in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Kabetogama, Lake Winnibigoshish, and Leech Lake through the collection and analysis of organism remains in lake bottom sediments over about a 120 year period from present (2017 or 2018) back to the year 1900. The results provide replicated evidence that spiny water flea was resident continuously in Lake Mille Lacs and Lake Kabetogama since the 1930s, or about 80 years before it was first detected in the open waters of either lake. Evidence demonstrates that spiny water flea had a prolonged history of low abundance in both lakes before about the year 2000 at which time it began to increase rapidly. Zooplankton that are prey and competitors of spiny water flea often declined in abundance after spiny water flea increased in abundance. There was no evidence of spiny water flea in the sediments of Lake Winnibigoshish. There was evidence of a small population of spiny water flea in the sediments of Leech Lake that dated to the year 2001, possibly representing a failed invasion. To date, Leech Lake has never been known to contain this organism. The data allow us to test hypotheses about the timing and impact of spiny water flea on the food webs of Minnesota lakes. The results re-cast our understanding of the timeline of spiny water flea invasion in Minnesota and underscore the value of lake sediments to study invasive species. The results suggest that traditional methods of spiny water flea detection with nets, as carried out by academic units and management agencies in Minnesota, may be inadequate to detect spiny water flea when it is low or transient in abundance.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We have disseminated our project results at a variety of conferences and meetings as summarized below:
We have included images of two poster presentations that were displayed at science conferences.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are spreading at an alarming rate in Minnesota, putting the urgent need for prevention at odds with limited budgets and capacity. To inform decision making, we have developed a series of integrated models that provide the cumulative risk of introduction and establishment of zebra mussels and starry stonewort in all Minnesota lakes. We first answered the question of ‘can the species get there?’ using network models to describe lake connections. The watercraft network was built with 1.6M MN DNR watercraft inspections from 2014-2017, with gaps and biases accounted for with a variety of statistical approaches. The water connectivity network was created at a finer resolution and larger geographic area than currently available using multiple sources of GIS data and satellite imagery. Next, we answered the question of ‘will the species survive?’ using advanced methods of ecological niche modeling. With current species distribution of the invaded and native ranges, paired with local environmental data, we projected suitability at the lake level. These three massive data sources fed into the development of an integrated model that quantified the risk of AIS invasion for each waterbody from 2018-2025. Not surprisingly the results suggest the number of infested waterbodies will increase in the years to come. However, with the integration of hypothetical management scenarios developed and incorporated during two project workshops, we demonstrated the value of this approach to assess management effectiveness by determining the number of new infestations averted. While the model is not perfect (no models are), the results are robust and provide useful information from which to make decisions. When considered across a watershed, county or state, the ability to rank waterbodies based on actual, not perceived, risk is a game changer for the prioritization of intervention strategies.
The outcomes of this projects received considerable attention from AIS managers, lake associations and other researchers. We took full advantage of this opportunity and far exceed expectations to disseminate the results. We communicated to the scientific community with the publication of seven related manuscripts and have three more in preparation, and presentations at three scientific conferences. The project was presented to stakeholder audiences 11 times in formal settings and many informal settings. We worked closely with MAISRC to disseminate project updates through MAISRC’s newsletter and social media. We have helped develop a project page on the MAISRC website (https://www.maisrc.umn.edu/modeling-ais) that has links to finalized risk ranking for each lake in Minnesota, project reports, and communications. In addition, all raw data and products generated as part of this project will be stored in the MAISRC-DRUM (Data Repository at UMN) for indefinite public access (web addressed TBD).
The current lack of standardized methods for surveying zebra mussels during their earliest stages of lake colonization limits our ability to track changes in density over time or to evaluate effectiveness of treatment programs (e.g., as required by DNR permits). We evaluated 5 different survey designs for estimating zebra mussel density (2 designs in 2017 and 3 designs in 2018), employing methods that utilize counts by two divers to estimate the probability of detecting mussels in the surveyed area. We also compared survey designs in terms of their density estimates, associated measures of uncertainty, and sampling efficiencies (time required to complete a survey), using data collected in 3 lakes of varying density and using a simulation study and analytical framework informed by our data. In 2017 in Lake Burgan, we estimated that a diver could detect between 5% and 41% of the mussels present in the surveyed area, depending on the specific diver and on whether the lake bottom was vegetated, with vegetation having the larger effect on detection. Accounting for low detectability of zebra mussels led to an estimate of density over three times higher than the observed density. Thus, for every zebra mussel detected by our divers, approximately two were missed. Using the data collected in 2018 and further simulation and analytical work, we found that double-observer survey designs that allow for imperfect detection are optimal when surveying lakes at low density, whereas quadrat counts that assume perfect detection are optimal at higher densities. We developed a training video, data collection worksheets, and an analysis tutorial so that others may implement our proposed survey designs in newly infested lakes. These tools benefit Minnesotan’s by providing better ways to monitor lakes infested with zebra mussels and to evaluate the effects of treatment options on zebra mussel density.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We have developed several resources to facilitate uptake of our survey methods, including a website describing the project (https://zebramusselsurveys.netlify.com/), an instructional video demonstrating the survey methods (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3ui8SVeBC0&feature=youtube), data sheets and google forms for data entry (https://zebramusselsurveys.netlify.com/forms), and an analysis vignette or tutorial using open-source software to analyze data collected from our survey designs (https://zebramusselsurveys.netlify.com/tutorial).
We have submitted a paper to Freshwater Science describing the survey methods we used in our first field season, along with estimates of density in Lake Burgan in 2017; we received a favorable review, and it has been forwarded to the editor for final consideration. We are currently working on an additional manuscript comparing the different survey methods in terms of their sampling efficiency (time required to complete a survey) and the resulting density estimates and associated measures of uncertainty using data collected in 3 lakes of varying density and using a simulation study and analytical framework informed by our data.
We have presented our research results via oral and poster presentations at professional conferences (Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, Hawaii Conservation Conference), MAISRC Research & Management Showcase events (oral presentations and a “hands on” demonstration of our survey designs), and a MAISRC outreach event sponsored by the Pelican River Watershed District. In the fall of 2019, we plan to offer a MAISRC-sponsored webinar to discuss our work, allowing us to reach a broad audience of scientists and managers interested in zebra mussel monitoring and control efforts.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Minnesota lakes experience ecosystem-level changes following the introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS), specifically zebra mussels and spiny water fleas. However, the effects of these AIS on fish are poorly understood and vary among lakes. We evaluated the impacts of zebra mussels and spiny water fleas on walleye and yellow perch in Minnesota’s nine largest walleye lakes. We compared age-0 walleye and yellow perch growth over 35 years, including pre- and post-invasion. Age-0 walleye were >10% smaller at the end of summer following invasion by either AIS. Age-0 yellow perch growth decreased following zebra mussel invasion, although this effect was not statistically significant. Smaller length at the end of the growing season was associated with decreased survival to later life stages for walleye in 7 of the 9 study lakes.
We used stable isotope analyses to understand which habitats and food resources support walleye and other fish and to assess their position in the food web in each lake. We documented a high degree of variability in the resources supporting all life stages of walleye. In general, juvenile walleye relied on offshore prey resources in invaded lakes. Combined with reduced growth rates, these results suggest that as zooplankton food resources decline following invasion, young walleye are not sufficiently accessing alternative prey resources to maintain pre-invasion growth rates. Variability in walleye diets among lakes may reflect differences in lake productivity or morphology, not necessarily the presence of AIS.
Our results demonstrate that zebra mussels and spiny water flea influence the growth rates of age-0 walleye and that a wide range of food resources and habitats support walleye in these lakes. Declines in growth rates of young walleye are an early signal of potential negative effects on walleye. This information can guide managers on the most effective and sustainable walleye harvest and stocking strategies in invaded lakes.
MnPhrag is an early detection and response effort targeting invasive Phragmites australis (common reed) (www.mnphrag.org), with the goal of supporting landscape-scale, strategic management throughout Minnesota. We mapped the distribution of invasive Phragmites, investigated its spread potential, and developed strategies for coordinated response in collaboration with agency staff and other resource managers. We engaged professionals and citizen scientists in reporting suspected populations; conducted intensive search efforts in under-sampled regions; and revisited unverified reports from a web-based invasive species reporting system. Over 70 active observers helped us identify 435 invasive Phragmites populations statewide, and we showed that non-experts can reliably distinguish invasive from native Phragmites using an identification guide we developed (www.maisrc.umn.edu/identifying-phragmites). The value of this “crowdsourcing” approach to surveillance is reflected in most invasive stands we identified being small populations (90% are <0.25 acres), for which effective control is much more feasible. Invasive Phragmites is producing viable seed in Minnesota, which increases spread risk; however, the extent of seed production varies across populations, and there is still time to prevent further spread through sound, sustained control efforts. We are working closely with diverse stakeholders to support coordinated response efforts. Our work has also brought state agencies together to address crosscutting issues related to invasive Phragmites’ regulatory status, including its use in some wastewater treatment facilities in “reed beds” for removing water from biosolids. We recently published an action plan outlining how Phragmites spread could be stopped and reversed in Minnesota; this assessment includes management recommendations, cost estimates, and region-specific response guidance (www.maisrc.umn.edu/reversing-spread). Our findings reveal a window of opportunity to slow and reverse spread of invasive Phragmites, which would benefit Minnesotans by protecting vital natural resources. This approach to statewide surveillance, and framework for a coordinated, landscape-scale response, are strategies that could be applied to other invasive species issues in Minnesota.
Information from this project has been disseminated through 19 invited talks, 6 contributed presentations, 1 webinar, 1 radio interview, and reports and resources published on our website (www.mnphrag.org). Our Phragmites Identification Guide and the report “An assessment to support strategic, coordinated response to invasive Phragmites australis in Minnesota” are included as attachments. Project findings are being used by the Minnesota Noxious Weed Advisory Committee, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to assess risk of Phragmites invasion in Minnesota and review relevant regulations, permitting, and policy.
Raymond M Newman
U of M - Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
135 Skok Hall
2003 Upper Buford Circle
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is one of the most problematic invasive aquatic plants in Minnesota. It can hybridize with the native northern watermilfoil (M. sibiricum) and reproduce sexually. Previous studies show that some genotypes of hybrid are resistant to specific herbicides and some may be more invasive. We determined the distribution of hybrid, Eurasian, and northern watermilfoil in Minnesota and assessed factors related to this distribution. We also assessed genetic variation (diversity) and distribution of specific genotypes and began an assessment of the response of watermilfoil and genotypes to management with herbicides. We sampled 64 lakes across the state stratified by county, size, and duration of infestation and collected milfoil from random points. The DNA from the milfoil samples was analyzed to determine taxon (Eurasian, northern or hybrid) and specific genotypes.
We found Eurasian in 43 lakes, hybrid in 28 lakes, and northern in 23 lakes. Hybrid was much more common in the metro, whereas Eurasian was broadly distributed. Northern watermilfoil was the most diverse with 84 genotypes, none shared across lakes. In contrast, we found one widespread genotype of Eurasian and six others found in indivdual lakes. Hybrid was intermediate in diversity with 53 genotypes; most lakes had only 1 unique genotype but 40% had multiple hybrid genotypes. Several genotypes were found in multiple lakes indicating clonal spread. The high diversity of hybrid watermilfoil indicates there is much potential for selection of problematic genotypes that are resistant to herbicides or that are competitively superior. There are numerous hybrid genotypes that could become problematic, but few have been widely distributed. We have not yet identified any clearly problematic genotypes in Minnesota but lakes with unexplained treatment failures, and populations with high diversity should be assessed. We will implement a strategy to identify and test problematic genotypes in Phase II of this project – MAISRC Subproject 18.2: Genetics to improve hybrid and Eurasian watermilfoil management.
We disseminated our results with presentations at the MAISRC Research & Management Showcase, several regional meetings and the national Aquatic Plant Management Society. We met with DNR Specialists, lake managers, consultants and other stakeholders twice to present results and to seek input on further work. In conjunction with MAISRC staff, we developed a Google Map indicating the locations we sampled and found Eurasian, hybrid and northern watermilfoil (https://www.maisrc.umn.edu/hybrid-distribution). This map will be updated as we get new information. We also generated a preliminary report in March 2019 and a final report detailing the background, methods, results and conclusions for distribution to managers and stakeholders and posting on the MAISRC website. The DNR and managers are starting to take this information into account when planning control activities.
Understanding the patterns of historic AIS invasion can provide the framework for forecasting future invasions. To that end, we used a big data approach to combine hydrologic connectivity and boat movement to create a multiplex metacommunity model for both zebra mussel and Eurasian watermilfoil. We found that the hydrological corridors are important pathways of spread, even more so that previous research has suggested. While overland dispersal of AIS via boater movement is still a significant factor, additional management strategies should be developed to include intervention of hydrological pathways.
Using connectivity networks of boater movement, we developed county-based AIS management optimization models that prioritize inspection locations that will intercept the highest number of ‘risky boats’ (e.g. moving from infested to uninfested lakes). We piloted the models in Crow Wing, Ramsey, and Stearns Counties and had a very productive collaboration with county managers and citizen advisory boards during the development and evaluation for each. Ultimately, the application of this approach was well received and helped inform allocation of their inspection hours at the county level (for example: https://www.crowwing.us/1004/Aquatic-Invasive-Species-AIS).
Dissemination and usability of the models was a priority of this project. We created online tools to 1) visualize the spread risk for zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil based on model predictions made in Activity 1, and 2) visualize and modify the decision optimization model at the county level based on management thresholds or funding availability. These tools and more detailed descriptions of the project has been disseminated through in-person stakeholder meetings and presentations to diverse audiences, including managers, researchers and the public.
Efforts were made throughout the project to engage end-users, share findings and make deliverables broadly available. We used a combination of formal and informal dissemination strategies for this project given the direct application to AIS managers and broad interest among other stakeholders. We held in-person meetings with County representatives and citizen advisor boards from Crow Wing, Ramsey and Stearns Counties to present results and update our models according to their input. These meetings were highly valuable to the project team and the outcomes of the project. In addition, we provided scientific and/or outreach presentations at the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, the Aquatic Invaders Summit, the Cass County Watercraft Inspectors annual training, the annual AIS Roundtable, and MAISRC’s Research and Management Showcase. Several publications are currently in late-stage drafts and will be submitted for peer-review in the coming months.
Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to Minnesota lake and river ecosystems. However, monitoring zebra mussel populations is challenging because current methods for detecting and counting zebra mussel colonies rely on time consuming and expensive diving surveys, video imaging, or sampling of veligers (larvae), which limits the areas surveyed. Remote sensing techniques have been shown to quickly and efficiently gather spatially extensive information. Using this technology to detect zebra mussels would likely be much more efficient and more effective than traditional methods and could be used for early detection and warning in rivers, lakes and reservoirs and to track changes in zebra mussel density.
This project was the first phase of research designed to test the utility of a swath mapping system, multibeam sonar, for detecting the presence and abundance of invasive mussels. Laboratory experiments were conducted to test the feasibility of using multibeam sonar to distinguish zebra mussel containing substrates. Acoustic backscatter data were collected in a two meter deep tank over sand, gravel, and mixed substrate containing high and low densities of zebra mussels and with native mussels using combinations of different sonar settings (frequencies and pulse lengths). Machine-learning was used to differentiate the acoustic backscattering signatures in a data-driven substrate classifier approach. Using these methods, we were able to classify substrate by size and mussel density. Classification errors decreased with more sonar settings. For minimum errors of less than 20%, 8 sonar settings are required, and for minimum errors of 10% or less for all substrates, 12 sonar settings. Each sonar setting corresponds to a separate boat survey of an area with a multibeam sonar in the field. Therefore, the next phase of this research is to further develop and test multibeam sonar monitoring approaches in the field (MAISRC Subproject 21.2: Field validation of mulitbeam sonar zebra mussel detection).
Research results from Phase I will be disseminated through a peer-reviewed publication (in preparation) and will inform Phase II field testing starting July 2019 (MAISRC Subproject 21.2: Field validation of mulitbeam sonar zebra mussel detection). During this one-year project, we participated in MAISRC Fellows meetings and presented our project to the public at the annual MAISRC Research & Management Showcase. The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) will be acknowledged through use of the trust fund logo or attribution language on project print and electronic media, publications, signage, and other communications per the ENRTF Acknowledgement Guidelines.
The main purpose of the project was to develop an updated version of the Computational Fluid Dynamics Agent-Based (CFD-AB) fish passage model (Zielinski, et al., 2018) using the field/experimental data of fish passage through Lock and Dam #2. This updated CFD-AB model can better help stop invasive carps while allowing native fish to pass through Mississippi River locks and dams.
The subproject has been fulfilled for all the goals that were declared:
The results of the “MAISRC Subproject 26: Updating an invasive and native fish passage model for locks and dams” were/will be presented at the following events:
1200 Warner Rd
St. Paul, MN 55106
$540,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to accelerate a search and monitoring program directly targeting Asian carp to be used in the development of potential control strategies.
Invasive 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. The DNR is using this appropriation to establish an aggressive search and monitoring program directly targeting Asian carp to determine existing distribution and abundance, measure current reproductive success, and evaluate impacts on native fish populations. The information will inform rapid response efforts aimed at control and removal of Asian carp as they emerge.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Invasive Carp, especially Bighead Carp and Silver Carp, pose an imminent and serious threat to Minnesota's aquatic ecosystems. From the 2013 appropriation, the MN DNR was able to appoint three non-classified positions to monitor and remove Invasive Carp from Minnesota waters, assist with environmental DNA collection, and collect groundbreaking native species biological data to determine the effects to native species if Invasive Carp become established. As a result, the MN DNR has established and developed the state's Invasive Carp management, monitoring, and detection program including all life stages. The program collected data from 255,750 feet of contracted commercial gill net, 18 commercial seines, 55,800 feet of gill net, 168 hours electrofishing, 422 larval samples, 622 hoop net and 223 fyke net sampling nights.
We would prefer to catch no Invasive Carp, however it is irresponsible not to be prepared. From the funding, the program caught 7 Invasive Carp via contract commercial fishing, 1 Bighead Carp from targeted sampling, and process an additional 5 Invasive Carp caught by other commercial fishermen and anglers. Sampling has also allowed researchers to determine areas to target from an increased understanding of their biology, associations with native species, and catch records. Specifically, Lower Grey Cloud Slough and the King plant on the St. Croix River were identified as target areas after more than one fish was captured. The program has implemented processing protocols and gained the ability to work-up fish in-house including ageing, determining sex and maturity, and collect all structures necessary for microchemistry analysis. The results can be accessed from the MN DNR 2012 - 2015 Invasive Carp Sampling Reports.
The project furthers the LCCMR Six-Year Strategic Plan in multiple ways including: protecting important water resources, management of invasive species, supporting research of natural resources, and promoting public education and dissemination of information about natural resources.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Project plans and results have been disseminated through annual MN DNR reports including, In addition, results have been presented at numerous conferences and meetings including Minnesota's American Fisheries Society annual meetings, the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, U.S. Fish and Wildlife annual meetings, and many others.
This project is highlighted on the MN DNR website at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasive-carp/index.html
The project is described in the:
PART A - $240,000 TF
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert St N
St. Paul, MN 55155
PART B - $360,000 TF
U of M
1980 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
$600,000 the first year is from the trust fund to evaluate and implement options for effective detection of the presence of emerald ash borer. Of this appropriation, $240,000 is to the commissioner of agriculture and $360,000 is to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that has been decimating ash trees throughout the Great Lakes states. It was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009 and is now found in four counties (Hennepin, Houston, Ramsey, and Winona). EAB poses a particularly serious threat to Minnesota because it is home to nearly 1 billion ash trees that occur throughout the state - the second most of any state. Loss of these trees would devastate ecosystems throughout Minnesota and have major economic impacts for the forest products industry as well as through the costs associated with treatment, removal, and replacement of lost trees. Much work has already been done to stem the spread of EAB in Minnesota, including education, quarantine, detection surveys, and biological control efforts. Effective detection remains a key obstacle, though, as current detection tools have not been calibrated to estimate population densities. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota are using this appropriation to attempt to fill this critical information gap necessary for best determining how and where to implement control measures. The effort will evaluate a range of detection tools and measure their ability to detect EAB at different population densities in order to improve and implement better detection practices.
PART A: OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Emerald ash borer (EAB) was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009 in St Paul and has since spread to 15 counties. Minnesota has more ash than any other area of the U.S. and it’s an important component of our rural and urban forests. Detection is a key obstacle to controlling EAB and many of the detection tools have not been calibrated to provide an estimate of what population density of EAB they are able to detect. This is a critical information gap as EAB population density is a critical parameter in determining how and where to implement control measures. This project was undertaken to evaluate detection tools and measure their ability to detect EAB at different population densities and to determine whether these detection tools can inform EAB management in urban areas. Methods included: visual inspection of ash trees during winter months, purple prism trapping during active EAB flight periods and branch sampling under a range of emerald ash borer population densities at 8 sites for three consecutive field seasons throughout the state. This work was conducted in close cooperation with local city governments
A total of 840 trees were visually inspected, 615 purple prism traps set, 1724 branches and 48 whole trees sampled. Results showed branch sampling was more sensitive than visual observation but the labor costs were approximately four times greater. Visual sampling provided the most positive detections at all levels of EAB densities in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost. However, all survey methods evaluated had some utility at detecting EAB at sites before significant canopy decline had occurred. This is important information as the project demonstrated the value of monitoring to prevent opportunities for EAB management from being lost.
PART B: OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The emerald ash borer is an extremely challenging insect to manage because (1) there is a long lag phase between initial infestation and tree decline/mortality and (2) the insect is difficult to monitor and detect. There are several detection tools available, such as laboriously peeling the bark from branches harvested from trees, visual inspection of trees for evidence of woodpecker feeding, and attraction to purple prism traps hung in ash trees during periods of adult flight. We calibrated these detection tools to provide an estimate of the efficacy of these tools across different population densities of emerald ash borer. We found that visual evaluations to monitor trees for woodpecker damage are an effective method for identifying EAB at low densities prior to wide-spread tree decline. We found that 50 to 78% of trees at an infestation site will show signs of woodpecker damage before larval densities are high enough to cause irreparable damage to the tree. Visual inspections during leaf-off conditions are more inexpensive than other methods, and can be used by local communities to detect and respond to populations early.
We were able to use these project funds to leverage a federal grant to investigate the impact of strategic and targeted tree removals if emerald ash borer is detected early in a community. We published a scientific paper (Fahrner, Abrahamson, Venette, and Aukema 2017 “Strategic removal of host trees in isolated, satellite infestations of emerald ash borer can reduce population growth” Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 24:184-194) that found that removal of two thirds of the trees in the Twin Cities area where EAB was first detected in 2009 reduced populations by just over one half over the course of five years. These strategic removals slowed population growth considerably, and set populations back by at least one year. The most significant impact was achieved by targeting trees with evidence of woodpecker feeding.
Finally, studying potential tradeoffs between Minnesota’s colder climate (than other places in emerald ash borer’s range) and dispersal capacity, we found that overwintering location affects survival rates, but not energy reserves or flight capacity. In other words, Minnesota might be cold, but surviving insects do not appear to be less capable of dispersing in the spring.
PART B: PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
This was a joint partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The primary audience for this work was disseminated to municipalities and other entities responsible for managing EAB at the local level. Information was conveyed through meetings held throughout the year, both at MDA through the EAB Forum (bimonthly meeting) and also through conferences, meetings and workshops held around the state and also at professional and technical conferences.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert St N
St. Paul, MN 55155
$350,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of agriculture to train volunteers and professionals to find, control, and monitor targeted newly emergent invasive species. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
New invasive plant species continue to emerge in Minnesota and will pose ongoing threats to Minnesota's economy, ecology, and environment if able to spread across the state. It is cheapest, easiest, and least harmful to find and control small populations of invasive plants before they become widespread. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is using this appropriation to increase the state's flexibility and rapid response to newly emergent terrestrial invasive plant species by training professionals and volunteers to find, control, and monitor certain invasive plants that presently exist only as small, isolated populations in the state. Targeted species include Dalmatian toadflax (NW MN), cutleaf teasel (various isolated areas of state), Japanese hops (SW MN), Oriental bittersweet (Areas along St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers), and Grecian foxglove (Washington County).OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The goals of the Elimination of Target Invasive Plants species were 1) Train volunteers and professionals to find target species; 2) Control these species before they spread; and 3) Monitor to prevent reinfestation. Target species are invasive plants that cause severe ecological harm. There are localized infestations of these plants and controlling them will prevent them from becoming widespread. Target species include Dalmatian toadflax, cutleaf teasel, Japanese hops, Oriental bittersweet and Grecian foxglove. We completed Phase 1 of this project and will expand the effort in Phase 2.
University of Minnesota Extension led education and outreach. A total of 34 workshops educated 772 people about target plants. Invasive Blitz was a workshop with 12 sessions across the state that trained volunteers to organize and conduct invasive species removal events. Volunteers reported 434 service events with management activities that impacted 9,582 acres in 30 counties.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture led survey and project coordination. A total of 1,542 road miles and 125 river and trail miles were surveyed with a multitude of volunteers and agency partners. Distribution data for target species can be accessed at http://www.eddmaps.org/. Coordination with private landowners and crew leaders was necessary. An agreement was written with each private landowner where crews worked to ensure clarity about expectations and activities. We wrote agreements with 162 landowners.
Conservation Corps Minnesota led the effort to control target invasives. There were 144 unique and 194 total (some returning members) crew members who worked on this project. Together, they treated 1,360 acres of target invasives.
This project was about eradicating plants, but people were key to success. Project achievements were due to the involvement of hundreds of volunteers, landowners, crew members and state and local partners. Engaging people has vital for long-term success.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
In addition to 34 workshops with 772 participants, there were 4 field tours, 10 presentations, 8 articles, 3 media events and mailings to hundreds of private landowners. Weed of the Month articles were run in local papers throughout the state. Overall, this dissemination reached thousands of Minnesotans.
Other Extension materials created to support this work, often funded with other grant and internal Extension funds including those generated from participant fees from workshops sponsored by the this project include:
If the live links to videos do not work, please go to the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube channel.
Laura Van Riper
500 Lafayette Rd, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155
$140,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources in cooperation with the University of Minnesota to continue the implementation of biological control for invasive garlic mustard plants. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Introducing one non-native species to control another, though, is something that must be done with care so that the introduction does not have unintended consequences. This appropriation is enabling the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota to continue ongoing research and evaluation of biological control options for garlic mustard. With this phase the aim is to be able to release multiple biological control inserts and monitor their effectiveness.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
This project advanced the goal of having effective biological control insects for garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). Host-specificity testing focused on the potential biocontrol insects Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis (a crown feeding weevil) and C. constrictus (a seed-feeding weevil). Monitoring garlic mustard populations in Minnesota provided information on garlic mustard populations in the absence of biocontrol. C. scrobicollis host specificity testing was completed for 15 plant species. Based on these results, C. scrobicollis has the host specificity to be a successful biocontrol agent of garlic mustard. The researchers wrote a petition for release which summarizes the 18 years of C. scrobicollis host specificity testing. The petition was submitted to the USDA-APHIS Technical Advisory Group in June 2016. Rearing protocols, release methods, and biocontrol manuals were developed for C. scrobicollis. C. constrictus host specificity testing was completed for 19 plant species. The results show that C. constrictus continues to show the host specificity to be a successful biocontrol agent for garlic mustard. Approximately 30 more species need to be tested and then a petition for release of C. constrictus can be submitted to the USDA. Garlic mustard is a biennial and long-term monitoring shows that its populations can fluctuate widely from year to year. When the plots were established in 2005 and 2006, garlic mustard was present in 100% of the plots. Garlic mustard is still present in 88% of the plots as of June 2016. Garlic mustard is currently experiencing very little herbivory in Minnesota with an average amount of leaf removed due to herbivory ranging from 0.6 to 4.5% in 2014 - 2016. It is expected that after biological control release, garlic mustard cover and density will decrease and shoot heights and silique production of individual plants will decrease as well.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
US Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
2630 Fanta Reed Rd
LaCrosse, WI 54603
$600,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the United States Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, to assess the ecological impacts of a commercially available molluscicide formulation on the reproduction and development of native fish, as well as impacts on larval aquatic insect survival, and to evaluate the effectiveness of these treatment options for detection and control of zebra mussels. The United States Geologic Survey is not subject to the requirements in Minnesota Statutes, section 116P.10. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Zebra mussels are an aquatic species that are invasive in Minnesota and severely threaten native fish and other aquatic species by disrupting food webs and damaging spawning habitat. Their range continues to expand within Minnesota lakes and rivers, where they are spread through the transporting of water, vegetation, or equipment from an infested water body. Once established zebra mussels are very difficult to control and there is an immediate need for safe and effective control measures to reduce their impacts in the state. Scientists at the United States Geological Survey are using this appropriation to assess the ecological impacts of a commercially available mollusicide formulation (Zequanox) showing some promise for the control of zebra mussels. Findings will be used to determine the extent to which this product can and should be used in Minnesota waters and, if so, to optimize treatment protocols and techniques to maximize zebra mussel control while minimizing undesirable impacts.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) continue to rapidly expand their range within Minnesota's lakes and rivers disrupting aquatic food webs, threaten native species, and damage infrastructure. Zequanox©, which contains killed cells of Pseudomonas fluorescens as the active ingredient, is a potential tool for controlling dreissenid mussels (zebra and quagga mussels D. rostriformis bugensis. The project goals were to determine the safety and efficacy of Zequanox for controlling zebra mussels and to evaluate the use of molecular tools to inform control efforts. Project studies are summarized in supplemental attachments with the final report.
The Zequanox non-target animal impacts database was expanded by evaluating the exposure-related impacts on three life stages of fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), and on the survival of adult scuds (Gammarus lacustris) and mayfly nymphs (Hexagenia sp.) after applications were conducted in outdoor 1,000-L mesocosm tanks. No significant treatment related impacts were observed in survival of invertebrates or fathead minnows or in hatchability and growth of fathead minnows.
Detailed maps were prepared for portions of Lake Le Homme Dieu and Maple Lake (Douglas County), which had different zebra mussel infestation levels. Maps of depth, substrate hardness, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) depth and biovolume were generated using side-scanning sonar and parallel sonar data transects were collected and processed into component data categories. Processed sonar data and resulting maps are available on the vendor's cloud-based server network and could be combined with new or existing data to generate additional mapping products. Sonar data were used to generate a geospatial database of map characteristics in ArcGIS, and spatial analyses of the data were used to generate additional map products in ArcMap. Conversion to ArcGIS allowed for spatial analysis and sharing in GIS format. Zebra mussel populations were correlated with depth and substrate and submerged aquatic vegetation was found to be an important component of zebra mussel habitat in shallow areas in Lake Le Homme Dieu.
The use of environmental DNA to detect and identify application locations for Zequanox that might have the greatest impact on zebra mussel populations was also evaluated. The use of eDNA could assist management agencies to identify infestations, however, eDNA was found to not be effective for targeting control efforts.
Methods to apply Zequanox under the surface were first evaluated in controlled laboratory and pond-scaled mesocosm studies and further evaluated in 27-m2 enclosures placed in Robinson's Bay (Lake Minnetonka, MN). Whole water column and subsurface applications were evaluated by comparing zebra mussel mortality and biomass reduction between treated and control groups. Approximately 73 and 56% of the zebra mussels in contained samples were killed in the highest whole water column and subsurface Zequanox applications, respectively, and the similarly the adhering zebra mussel biomass was reduced ~79 and 57%, respectively.
Overall, we found that Zequanox has the potential to be used as a management tool for zebra mussels in quiescent water environments, however, Zequanox is not likely to be effective for eradication of zebra mussels in an open water environment. Additionally, eDNA may have utility as a tool for the detection of zebra mussels in a waterbody but it is not an effective tool for determining the biomass of zebra mussels present or for prioritizing the location of zebra control efforts.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Three oral presentations describing study methods and results were prepared and disseminated at professional scientific meetings including the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference and the Annual Conference of the International Association of Great Lake Research. One webinar entitled "The potential use of eDNA to guide site selection for zebra mussel control treatments" was presented during a USGS hosted Environmental DNA Webinar Series. One peer-reviewed manuscript entitled "Safety of the molluscicide Zequanox© to nontarget macroinvertebrates Gammarus lacustris (Amphipoda: Gammaridae) and Hexagenia spp. (Ephemeroptera: Ephemeridae)" was prepared and published online on June 23, 2016 in the Management of Biological Invasions and is included as a supplemental attachment to the project final report. Five peer-reviewed reports that summarize study methods and results were prepared and are supplemental attachments to the project final report.
A model was developed for selecting the proper concentration (w/v) of Zequanox to be used in stocks prepared for subsurface applications waters between 7 and 22℃. This prediction model is described in supplemental attachments with the final report.
Molecular markers for the detection of zebra mussels were found to be highly specific to zebra mussels. A water sampling protocol was also developed to improve the probability of detecting zebra mussels. The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) did correlate with zebra mussel biomass. Zebra mussel DNA did accumulate in depositional areas. This suggests that our zebra mussel eDNA assay could assist management agencies to identify infestations, but not inform control efforts. The molecular markers, sampling protocol and depositional areas are described in supplemental attachments with the final report.
Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.
6584 134th Ct
Apple Valley, MN 55124
$52,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. to develop cost effective best management practices to control invasive terrestrial species through planned grazing. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
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. Grazing animals can help put target plant species at a competitive disadvantage if plants are grazed at times when they are most vulnerable in order to prevent flower and seed production. The Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation & Development Council is using this appropriation to develop and demonstrate cost effective and environmentally friendly best management practices for using grazing as a component of invasive species management in Minnesota.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Hiawatha Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc., (HVRCD) began implementation of a program to control terrestrial invasive species through grazing with a pilot project in 2011. With the help of the USDA-NRCS a baseline inventory of selected sites was initiated along with documenting the effects of grazing on terrestrial invasive species.
In 2013 HVRCD received funding through the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The project goals were: (1) develop a cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to chemical and mechanical control methods for these species, (2) demonstrate that multi-species grazing techniques can be used effectively to control invasive plants, (3) distribute results during field day demonstrations to connect livestock producers with landowners and (4) develop a Best Management Practice for invasive species control using grazing management as a component.
Three sites were selected as part of this project; Gamehaven Boy Scout Camp, approximately 10 miles southeast of the City of Rochester; River Bend Nature Center in the City of Faribault; and Eden Acres, roughly 5.4 miles southeast of the City of Faribault.
Results show little change in seasonal buckthorn sapling density, an increase in buckthorn seedlings, and variable results for adult buckthorn mortality. However, result show a change in the age stand of buckthorn within treatment areas as fewer live adult and large saplings were documented within the treatment sites. This change makes further treatments by various means more attainable.
Garlic mustard density was dramatically reduced in two growing seasons at the River Bend site, showing a 94% decrease in density by 2016.
Additional documents included with this report: Prescribed Grazing (Goat) Project Final Report Covering Years 2014, 2015, and 2016; Final Project Report Gamehaven Boy Scout Camp; Minnesota Practice 528 Biological Brush Management Implementation Guide; Minnesota Practice Implementation Guide Biological Herbaceous Weed Control 528.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Board of Water and Soil Resources
520 Lafayette Rd N
St. Paul, MN 55155
$186,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources in cooperation with the Conservation Corps Minnesota to continue a program to train and mentor future conservation professionals by providing apprenticeship service opportunities with soil and water conservation districts.
Many of the most experienced conservation practitioners at local soil and water conservation districts throughout the state are nearing retirement, and with their departure will go much of their practical, on-the-ground knowledge, experience, and skills. Meanwhile, college students seeking to be the next generation of conservation practitioners have knowledge of emerging technologies and other innovations that can improve and contribute to current conservation efforts. Through this appropriation the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources will work with the Minnesota Conservation Corps to continue a program that places students in apprenticeship positions with county soil and water conservation district offices throughout the state. This unique program provides an opportunity for interns to gain valuable in-the-field experience from current practitioners while sharing their knowledge with those practitioners about the newest ideas and solutions for meeting today's natural resource challenges.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Familiarizing future conservation leaders with Minnesota's various land-use practices, water and soil resources, plant and animal habitats, and landowner concerns is needed to maintain the capacity of local organizations to deliver conservation on the ground. Many of the conservation districts' most experienced conservation professionals and practitioners are nearing retirement age but due to budget constraints will not be replaced until they have left employment. Consequently, Minnesota is missing a great opportunity to transfer professional knowledge and experience to the next generation.
While university graduates with conservation-related degrees are knowledgeable in technology, theory, and research methods, their practical, on-the-ground skills need development. Communicating with landowners and adjusting designs for field nuances are vital to the success of conservation projects and best learned alongside seasoned professionals. In turn, apprentices bring knowledge of emerging technologies to improve the quality and productivity of conservation efforts.
This program funded the placement of 37 conservation apprentices in 35 SWCDs in 2014. During this time, the apprentices stabilized erosion on 7 million square feet of slopes, planted 28,001 plants, trees, shrubs and seedlings, maintained 3.5 million square feet of restored areas, collected 2,465 water samples, spent 2,110 Hours collecting data and mapping using GPS and GIS, and impacted 1,265 people through environmental education and outreach.
This program has benefits to both students and conservation districts. 100% of apprentices indicated they felt more prepared to work in the conservation industry as a result of the program and would recommend it to others. 96% of the Districts were satisfied with the work their apprentices completed, and 100% indicate they would participate in the program again. Managers also indicated that the work conducted by the apprentices increased the amount of conservation practices delivered by their districts during the program period.
This was the third grant awarded to the Apprentice Academy through LCCMR. Grant one addressed the cohorts working during the summers of 2011 and 2012. The state government shutdown of 2011 produced a small balance in the 2010 grant that was used to fund additional positions in 2012 and 2013; this in turn allowed a small balance the second grant (M.L. 2011) to fund additional positions in the this, the M.L. 2013, Chp. 52, Sec. 2, Subd. 07a plan, and carried funding into the early portion of 2014.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
Information from the project has been disseminated through reports to LCCMR, press releases by BWSR, local press releases by SWCDs, and through the Conservation Corps newsletter, website and annual report. Information was used to recruit apprentices and increase awareness of the project.
Communication and outreach activities include the aforementioned reports, press releases, and electronic newsletters. Additionally, BWSR and Conservation Corps staff conducted outreach to SWCDs to find optimal matches between districts and apprentices. Through the course of their work, the apprentices conducted significant outreach to land owners and residents in topics ranging from easement protection, to water quality education, to plant biodiversity.
808 14th Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
$450,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Wilderness Inquiry to provide outdoor education, recreation, and youth employment on the Mississippi River from Grand Rapids to St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, Hastings, and Red Wing. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
There has been a sharp decline in participation in outdoor recreation and education amongst youth, particularly in urban areas. Some argue that youth who have meaningful outdoor education experiences are more likely to become engaged in environmental stewardship and invested in outdoor resources as adults. Wilderness Inquiry - in partnership with state and federal agencies, non-profits, and local school districts - is using this appropriation to expand an environmental education and recreation program that provides youth with hands-on educational and recreational experiences of the Mississippi River. Funds enable the program to offer canoe experiences to an additional 6,000 youth and to expand the types of experiences provided to include overnight camping, aquatic sampling and monitoring, and conservation-related internships. The program is also expanding geographically to serve additional communities in the Twin Cities and outstate, including Grand Rapids, St. Cloud, Hastings, and Red Wing.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Youth in Minnesota and across the country are spending less time outdoors than ever before. Minnesota is home to beautiful wilderness areas and our youth are missing out on opportunities to experience it. The goal of the Youth Outdoors project is to bring more youth outside to experience the wilderness -- urban and remote -- and gain a new appreciation for their environment and community through guided outdoor experiences.
Between July 1, 2013 and September 1, 2015 Wilderness Inquiry (WI) engaged 12,000 youth in outdoor programming. More than 11,000 youth joined WI for an introductory outdoor day experience and more than 830 youth participated in an overnight camping experience. Additionally, 31 youth were employed as interns with job responsibilities including supporting participants, leading educational stations, and creating new activities. On single day events, youth canoed, fished, hiked, explored, and collected data from lakes and rivers for hands-on water quality tests. Youth worked in teams to paddle 24-foot Voyageur canoes on urban waterways such as the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and Minneapolis Chain of Lakes as well as remote lakes and rivers across the state such as Voyageurs National Park and Lake Itasca. Outdoor Educators, with the support of partner organizations, facilitated activities to engage students with each other and the outdoors. On overnight camping experiences, youth set up tents, built fires, and cooked outside. We reached out to schools, formalized district partnerships, and engaged a variety of groups to offer these experiential and educational opportunities.
The University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) collected data from the project as part of a 5-year plan to evaluate the program outcomes. We are continuing our relationship with CAREI to determine best practice and next steps. By engaging thousands of Minnesota youth in the outdoor educational experiences, we are energizing the next generation of environmental stewards.PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
We disseminated information about the project and its outcomes through a variety of media including our website, social media networks, quarterly newsletter, partner website, and news sources. We have shared our educational resources with schools in an effort to support the continued engagement of their students in the outdoors. Our program has been highlighted in a number of local newspapers.
Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources
100 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Rm 72
St. Paul, MN 55155
$990,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the LCCMR for administration in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 116P.09, subdivision 5.
Per M.S. 116P.09, up to 4% of the amount available for appropriation from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) for a biennium is available for expenses related to LCCMR administration. These expenses include the LCCMR's project selection and approval process and its ongoing oversight of projects funded by the ENRTF, including both new projects funded during the biennium and existing projects funded in previous bienniums. Historically, LCCMR has always used less than 3% of available funds for administration. This appropriation, which represents 1.46% of the amount available for the biennium, funds LCCMR administration expenses for FY 2014-15.
Organization: MN DNR
Address: 500 Lafayette Road
City, State, Zip: St. Paul, MN 55155
$135,000 the first year is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources at the direction of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for expenses incurred for contract agreement reimbursement for the agreements specified in this section. The commissioner shall provide documentation to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources on the expenditure of these funds.
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.OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
This appropriation, in conjunction with Outdoor Heritage Fund appropriations, was used to support the contract management program, which ensured ENRTF funds were expended in compliance with state law, session law, approved work plans, and Office of Grants Management grants policies.
Services provided under this appropriation included the following:
Project personnel were in frequent contact with appropriation recipients and LCCMR staff. Information was disseminated through manuals, training sessions, orientations, meetings, memos, letters, emails, newsletter, and phone.