The development of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan 2010 (MPCP) by state, federal, and private agencies and organizations has provided strategic direction for prairie upland and wetland habitat work. A completed plan is an accomplishment on its own, but without funding for implementation, often the actions in such plans are not completed. Fortunately, with the 2008 constitutional amendment increasing the Minnesota state sales tax by 3/8 of 1%, a strong and steady stream of funding was available to implement this plan. Funding from this source (known as the Outdoor Heritage Funds or OHF) provides up to $110 million annually for all types of habitat work. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and its partners are working to ensure that a significant portion of these dollars is directed towards prairie conservation.
Several highlights from this fund include:
- OHF money for MPCP projects (acquisition, restoration and enhancement) is averaging $50-60 million annually.
- Minnesota Wildlife Management Area acquisition is approaching 9,000 acres/year. Waterfowl Production Area acquisition is around 2,000 acres/year.
- OHF expenditures for shallow lake work are averaging approximately $40-45 million annually.
- Fifty-four shallow lakes are now designated as Wildlife Lakes, which gives the DNR management authority. A record 6 new Wildlife Lakes were designated in 2014.
- Three “Roving Habitat Crews” have been established to implement needed management on public lands. These 8-person crews have training, equipment, and funding to travel the state implementing needed upland and wetland habitat work on public lands.