Grasslands and Wetlands

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Acres of grasslands and wetlands protected permanently

Why Is This Important?

Grasslands, both native prairie and restored grasslands, and the wetlands of various types and sizes embedded in these grasslands are important for many species, including waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, pheasants, prairie grouse, deer, and pollinators. Grasslands provide great opportunities for Minnesotans to enjoy the outdoors for hunting and wildlife watching. They provide resilient habitats in the face of global climate change and provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water storage and retention, and filtration of chemicals and sediment. Ideally, habitat complexes should be at least nine square miles with the majority of that area in grasslands (40%) and wetlands (20%) while the rest of the area is farmed using sustainable agricultural practices. At least fifty percent of those grasslands and wetlands should be protected permanently by easements or public land ownership.

What Is DNR Doing?

While the acres of land in federal conservation land retirement programs have decreased in recent years, acres of grasslands and wetlands protected permanently have increased.   Image 1 of 1 (use left/right arrows to navigate previous/next)

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The DNR programs that benefit grasslands and wetlands include enforcement, promotion of federal farm programs, and protecting and managing grassland habitat through the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, Pheasant Action Plan, State Wildlife Action Plan, Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), state parks, Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA), and Native Prairie Bank (NPB) easements. DNR is working with local conservation partners primarily through the Local Technical Teams (LTT) under the Prairie Conservation Plan.

This measure tracks the grassland and wetland acres protected permanently by the DNR and other state and federal partners. It includes acres in WMAs and SNAs, as well as those in programs such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). In addition to these government programs, there are numerous private and non-profit groups in Minnesota, such as the Nature Conservancy, that also protect acres through easement programs.

Target: Increase the number of high-quality grassland and wetland acres through the restoration and protection of 40,000 grassland and wetland acres by all partners each year.

The mounting losses of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres continues to offset work done to protect and restore prairie wetland habitat. Since 2007, Minnesota lost nearly a million acres of CRP. Over the next four years, another 480,000 acres of contracts will expire. This emphasizes the need to further accelerate efforts and resources put towards effective habitat programs.