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Land Trust seeking interested landowners to conserve wetlands

There are always plenty of ducks to see at Noonan Park during the summer months, partly because of the food that park-goers give them. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)

The Minnesota Land Trust is looking for landowners who want to conserve their wetlands and surrounding areas in Becker, Big Stone, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Otter Tail, Pope, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse and Wilkin counties.

The Minnesota Land Trust is continuing to combat wetland loss with Phase 2 of its innovative and successful Wetland Habitat Protection Program. This new phase has more than $1 million available for easement acquisition and will seek to protect at least 750 acres.

Applications are being accepted for Phase 2 until September 15, 2016.

The program uses a market-based and cost-effective approach to acquire conservation easements from private landowners in the Prairie and Prairie-Forest transition area in Central Minnesota.

Phase 1 was a success with 1,597 acres already preserved, far exceeding the original program goal of 1,100 acres.

Funding for this program is provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund and The McKnight Foundation.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or other qualified agency that permanently limits certain uses of land in order to protect its conservation values.

Each easement is tailored to preserve the specific unique features of the land. Landowners continue to own and enjoy the land, control access and pay property taxes.

Once created, the conservation easement is binding on all future owners of the property. More information can be found at www.mnland.org.

The importance of Minnesota’s wetlands cannot be overstated. Wetlands slow down the absorption of heavy rains, which improves water quality, helps control flooding, reduces soil erosion and acts as a buffer against droughts.

They also provide critical nesting and feeding habitat to many species and are a distinct feature of the Minnesota landscape.

Yet the area that they cover in the state has been cut in half since pre-settlement. Wetland loss is particularly severe in the western, prairie-pothole region, where more than 90 percent of wetlands are gone.

Wetlands rival tropical rainforests and coral reefs in their level of biodiversity and productivity; though they cover only 5 percent of the land area in the lower 48, wetlands contain almost 31 percent of all plant species and as much as 50 percent of all bird species in the same area.

To learn more about this program and to apply, landowners are invited to visit www.mnland.org or contact Pat Anderson, program manager for Wetlands and Grasslands, at (651) 917-6288, 1-877-MLT-LAND or panderson@mnland.org.

MINNESOTA LAND TRUST

The Minnesota Land Trust is a membership supported non-profit nongovernmental organization. Its mission is to protect and restore Minnesota’s most vital natural lands in order to provide wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor experiences and scenic beauty for generations to come.

The organization has completed more than 500 conservation projects all over the state of Minnesota, permanently protecting more than 48,000 acres of natural and scenic land and more than 1 million feet of fragile shoreline statewide through voluntary agreements with landowners.

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