Restoration Plans in the Works for Conservation Easements

We're happy to announce that the Minnesota Land Trust, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was awarded a $120,000 grant from the Conservation Partners Legacy Program that will help private landowners improve wildlife habitat on their property.

This pilot program, which includes matching funds and services from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is aimed at restoration of wetland areas that were impacted by agricultural uses. All of the targeted lands are currently protected with conservation easements.Fish, birds and turtles will all benefit from these restoration projects. Photo: Paul Raymaker

The Minnesota Land Trust will work with Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to restore wetland hydrology, re-seed native plants and provide the landowner with a long-term management plan.

The idea for this program rose from the personal visits that Minnesota Land Trust staff and certified volunteers make to each of the non-profit’s 500+ conservation easements every year.

Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program was also looking for a way to expand their services to Minnesota’s private landowners and we were able to develop this program quickly.

“We see our landowners making incredible investments of time and money in their land all the time,” stated Minnesota Land Trust’s restoration project manager Kristina Geiger, “but sometimes the scope of the restoration is greater than the landowner can take on, and because of the significant habitat benefits we will realize, these are just the perfect projects to undertake with this restoration grant program.”

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Big Louis Has a Big Smile on his Face!

Big Louie the Voyageur is gazing over I-35 toward the piney hillside on the opposite side of Bear Lake. This new project is visible from I-35 across Bear Lake, under the gaze of Big Louis.

Big Louis is that gigantic Voyageur who gazes over the passing traffic on I-35 near Barnum.

We think he's very pleased with this conservation easement that preserves the pine forest and wild, undeveloped shoreline that you see as you follow his gaze across Bear Lake to the east.

Our mission is to protect Minnesota's most vital natural lands by providing wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor experiences and scenic beautiful for generations to come.

This new project on Bear Lake along interstate 35 about half an hour southwest of Duluth, hits these goals square on the head.

This land has been nurtured and cared for by three generations, including Alan and Sharon Finifrock and Alan's parents Harry and Alma. Over the past 40+ years, they planted thousands of pines you see on the top of the 100' hillside that will help prevent erosion on that steep slope. This shoreline is zoned for multiple homesites. Instead, no docks, structures or stairs are allowed.The trees will always be there, providing cover and food sources for bear, moose and maybe even another passing cougar!

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We're pretty wild about rice.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is a key partner in this multi-year restoration project.Wild rice is to Minnesotans as cranberries are to our neighbors to the east. These foods are not only seen on traditional holiday buffet tables, they were also important nutritional sources for the indigenous peoples who have resided here for centuries, and represent important traditions for the Anishinaabe people today.

What you may not know is that wild rice is our canary in the coal mine: the loss of natural wild rice beds tells a story of greater habitat loss for a wide variety of birds and reflects diminished water quality that affects even more species.

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Scaling new heights in Duluth

Ice climbing in Quarry Park, Duluth Photo: Hansi JohnsonTwo articles  - one in the Star Tribune and the other in Saving Lands - recently highlighted the Land Trust's efforts in and around Duluth to enhance spaces that can be used to enjoy our great outdoors.

The Star Tribune article profiles the newly formed Quarry Park, once a strictly unofficial site for adventurous ice climbing individuals. Now, because of the efforts of Hansi Johnson, MLT's Director of Recreation Lands, the land is secured for ice climbing and additional resources are being added to provide better climbing opportunities for novices and experts. 

Saving Lands, a national publication aimed at the Land Trust community, provides an overview of the Land Trust's work around Duluth that is making this great outdoors town even better for paddlers, peddlers, skiers, climbers, anglers and anyone else that loves to get outside and play.

Why is this important for the Minnesota Land Trust?

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