This project will be collaboration between the Windom Wetland Management District, Fergus Falls Wetland Acquisition Office, and the Nature Conservancy (TNC).
The Service and TNC will work closely to identify privately owned remnant native prairie sites in SW Minnesota (Rock, Pipestone, and Nobles
Counties), that contain designated critical habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner and offer habitat restoration and easement protection opportunities.
TNC will negotiate and obtain an easement for habitat protection from the landowner, complete an easement boundary survey, plat, and legal description, and serve as the fiscal agent when the easement conveyance goes to closing.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program will work with the landowner to carry out the Topeka shiner habitat improvement projects and the Service will manage the easement as a part of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a notice of intent to award a single source cooperative agreement to TNC under justification 505DM 2. 1 4. B.
2 and 4. TNC has an extensive history of successfully conserving native prairie in SW Minnesota.
Consequentially, they have developed a stellar reputation working with landowners and local governmental units.
TNC possesses leading expertise concerning native prairie and endangered and threatened species conservation.
TNC has worked long and flawlessly with the Service, and is very intimate with the refuge acquisition process.
The Service and TNC have effectively protected prairie in partnership for many years, but have significantly elevated efforts and achievements over the past five years in partnerships through the MN Prairie Conservation Plan and Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, protecting over 4,000 acres of prairie wetland habitat in Minnesota.
This project is a continuation of a phase I initiative that requires tight timelines and windows for monitoring and project implementation due to ESA restrictions for Topeka shiners.
The Service will be substantially involved in projects under this funding opportunity.
In particular, the Service will be responsible for the following:
this project will be a collaboration with the Windom Wetland Management District staff, Fergus Falls Wetland Acquisition Office, and the recipient.
Service will work closely with TNC to identify suitable Topeka shiner restoration and native prairie protection sites for easement acquisition on private lands.
The Service will complete and approve easement proposals, obtain all needed courthouse documents, complete easement payment valuations, and forward the entire proposal package to TNC for easement procurement.
The Service will also review and approve surveys, plats, and legal descriptions, complete title and contaminate survey work, secure acquisition approval from the Solicitor's Office, and schedule transaction closing/recording with a third parting Title Company.
Finally the Service will carry out the habitat restoration work and Windom WMD will manage the easements perpetually.