FROM THE DNR: 900 acres of public land in Rice County, National Winter Trails Day, more…


MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #1                                                                                  Jan. 6, 2014
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at
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Nearly 900 acres of public land added in Rice County south of Twin Cities
DNR Parks and Trails Division solicits park and trail grant applications for 2014
New wetland map data available
DNR and REI invite families to discover the fun of snow sports on 
   National Winter Trails Day 
Grassroots allies work together to keep grass on the land


Nearly 900 acres of public land added in Rice County south of Twin Cities

Nearly 900 acres of new public land south of the Twin Cities will be available for hunting, bird watching and other recreation as a new wildlife management area emerges and another grows, according to The Trust for Public Land and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In Rice County near Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, The Trust for Public Land purchased a 460-acre property in the Cannon River headwaters from the Koester family, who have farmed or leased-to-farm the land for generations. The Koester prairie property at the new Prairie Creek Wildlife Management Area will preserve prairies, grasslands and oak savannah.

Craig Koester, a family member and academic dean at Luther Seminary said, “My siblings and I had the opportunity to grow up where the prairie met the woodland.  Birds and wildlife flourished.  We could enjoy these spaces of discovery and renewal because of the care taken by previous generations.  When facing the decision of what to do with the land, it seemed clear it was our turn to make it available for the generations to come. It is a privilege to do so.”

Near Faribault in Rice County’s Shieldsville Township, 227 acres are being added to the Boyd Sartell Wildlife Management Area, including land along Shields Lake, a primary source of the Cannon River.

Wildlife management areas are part of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation system and are established to protect those lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing, and other compatible recreational uses. There are more than 1,440 wildlife management areas in the state and boundaries of each are marked with bright yellow signs. Signage on the two new parcels is pending.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the properties within the Cannon River headwaters in two transactions in December. Together the properties offer new public outdoor destinations within a short drive of more than half of Minnesota’s population.

“Protecting these properties in a growing region accomplishes important recreation and habitat restoration objectives for Minnesota, and gives new outdoor opportunities to the people nearby that call these areas home,” said Susan Schmidt, The Trust for Public Land’s Minnesota state director. “The waterfowl, wildlife, and native species in each landscape will be well cared for and the public has great new places to visit and treasure.”

The properties were both priorities for the DNR. Population growth, new development and agricultural operations in Rice County intensified the importance of protecting and restoring prairies, grasslands, and wetlands within the Cannon River headwaters.

The properties were both protected with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Reinvest in Minnesota critical habitat account. The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife.

“These are the kind of strong partnerships that not only bring additional dollars to Legacy projects, but will help us make significant gains in prairie and grassland habitat in Minnesota over the next 20 years through the Legacy amendment,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Jan. 6, 2014

DNR Parks and Trails Division solicits park and trail grant applications for 2014

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division is accepting applications for the following grant programs: outdoor recreation, local trail connections, federal recreational trails and regional trails.

These grant programs help local governments throughout the state create partnerships with the DNR to fund recreation opportunities.

The application due dates are Feb. 28 for the federal recreational trail grant program and March 31 for the other programs. It is anticipated that both federal and state funding will be available during 2014 for these programs.

Program and application information is available on the DNR website at

For more information, contact the grants staff listed online, call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or send questions via email




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Jan. 6, 2014

New wetland map data available

The Department of Natural Resources has released updated wetland map data for 13 counties in east-central Minnesota, encompassing the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  The wetlands were originally mapped by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI).

Although still widely used for land use planning, wetland permit screening and natural resource management, the original maps have grown increasingly out-of-date due to landscape alterations over the years. The newly-released map data is the first time the NWI has been updated in Minnesota.

The data are available through an interactive mapping application on the DNR’s website at: The data can also be downloaded, free of charge, for use in geographic information system applications through the DNR’s data deli at:

The new maps reflect the latest technology in remote sensing and mapping including high-resolution aerial imagery and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data.

“The original NWI maps were quite good considering the imagery and mapping methods of the time, but the new maps are much more accurate, capture more detail and provide more information than the original maps,” said Steve Kloiber, the DNR manager of the NWI update project.

Besides showing the location, size and type of each wetland, the updated map data include information on the wetland’s landscape position and hydrologic characteristics, which can be useful in assessing the benefits provided, such as water quality improvement, flood storage, and fish and wildlife habitat.

The release of the wetland map data for east-central Minnesota marks completion of the first phase of a statewide update of the NWI.  New, high resolution aerial imagery has been acquired for the entire state and wetland mapping is currently underway for the southern third of the state and a portion of northeast Minnesota.

The DNR is planning to complete the entire state by 2020. The NWI update project is being funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
The trust fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by Minnesotans to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 Jan. 6, 2014

DNR and REI invite families to discover the fun of snow sports on National Winter Trails Day 
Students from Edison High School will camp out in quinzees at Fort Snelling State Park on Saturday night

WHAT: An opportunity to discover the fun of winter by trying snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and more. Participants can take a naturalist-guided hike, try their hands at ice sculpting, and learn about skijoring, winter camping and how to build a quinzee (snow shelter). Students from Edison High School will camp out in the quinzees on Saturdaynight. Equipment for all activities will be provided, but participants can also bring their own. Free hot cocoa will be provided to enjoy around a bonfire. There is no charge to participate in any of the activities, but a vehicle permit ($5/day, $25/year-round) is required to enter the park.

WHO: This family-oriented event is especially for anyone new to snow sports, with all ages and ability levels welcome. Outdoor experts from the Department of Natural Resources, outdoor retailer REI and other local outdoor organizations will conduct demonstrations and lead activities throughout the day.

WHERE: Fort Snelling State Park, Picnic Shelter A.

Directions: The park is located on Post Road off State Highway 5 in St. Paul, just west of the main terminal exit for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 11, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

WHY: Winter Trails Day ( is a national event that offers beginners a free opportunity to discover the fitness and social benefits of winter sports.

MORE INFO:  Visit the online events calendar at or call the park at 612-725-2724.



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     Jan. 6, 2014

Grassroots allies work together to keep grass on the land

Protecting grassland and wetland habitat is one of the most critical environmental challenges facing Minnesota. In response, local teams have formed to consider common sense solutions to keep grass on the land, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

These 10 new teams – working closely across western Minnesota with farmers, landowners, local officials and citizens – will promote grassland conservation and grass-based agriculture as outlined in the state’s prairie conservation plan.

“We are relying on our local resource managers and partners who know the lay of the land and what will work in their communities,” said the DNR’s Marybeth Block, who coordinates efforts to implement grassland elements of the prairie conservation plan. “These folks already have relationships with many landowners and producers, and they’re reaching out in a coordinated manner to those who may not be aware of the conservation and management options out there.”

The prairie conservation plan demonstrates unprecedented cooperation between federal agencies, state agencies and conservation organizations. The plan addresses the millions of acres of grassland and wetland which have been lost in Minnesota over the past 150 years and creates a vision of connected grassland and wetland habitat from Canada to Iowa.

Partnerships– both among conservation and agricultural groups, as well as with key landowners and farm operators – are crucial to implementing successful conservation strategies, said Ryan Atwell, an independent researcher who studied the sociological connection between grassland conservation and agriculture in areas of western Minnesota. Agricultural entities often voice confusion and frustration about the lack of coordination among conservation organizations.

“The formation of these local teams emphasizes coordination and partnering to achieve the best social, economic, and ecological outcomes for a particular area,” Atwell said. “Meeting farm operation goals and understanding the needs of rural communities is vital to conserving grassland landscapes.”

Mead Klavetter, assistant manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Morris Wetland Management District, has worked with grassland habitat in many locations across the nation.

“Being part of the Lac Qui Parle grassland team has been one of the most rewarding efforts I’ve been part of in my career,” Klavetter said. “Working together, we can speak with one voice to people who want to hear about options to protect, restore or manage native prairie, other grassland and wetlands.”

“Our teams concentrate on conservation efforts that get positive outcomes for the environment while adding value to the community and economy,” Block said.  “When we accomplish that, everyone benefits.”

For more information on the prairie conservation plan, visit

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