USFWS to restore wetlands on Bloom Township parcel in MN
WORTHINGTON, Minn. -- A representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appeared before Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday to discuss a 97-acre Bloom Township parcel that will be restored to wetlands, native prairie grasses and forbs.
WORTHINGTON, Minn. - A representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appeared before Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday to discuss a 97-acre Bloom Township parcel that will be restored to wetlands, native prairie grasses and forbs.
Todd Luke, district manager for the USFWS at Windom, Minn., said the parcel, adjacent to the already developed Bloom Waterfowl Production Area (WPA), had appeal because of the ability to develop a larger tract for brood habitat for waterfowl. The Schettler family had contacted USFWS about a potential purchase of the land two years ago, in hopes of creating a legacy to support habitat.
The acquisition process has included the participation of Pheasants Forever and funds administered by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, Luke said. The USFWS will be involved in the restoration of the site, including converting two semi-permanent wetlands on the property to permanent wetlands. “There are quite a few Type I, II and III wetlands we’re able to restore to round out that complex to provide all of the needs for waterfowl,” Luke said. “We plan to seed with perennial species - native grasses and wildflowers - over the entire 97-acre parcel.”
Wetland construction will occur next summer, with the property officially donated to the USFWS by next fall, he added. Pheasants Forever will continue to own the property and pay taxes on the land until the land transfer is completed.
Because the federal government is prohibited from paying property taxes, Luke said the county will receive Refuge Revenue Sharing payments on the WPA. This amounts to three-quarters of 1 percent of the sale price. Luke said the sale price for the parcel was approximately $651,000.
While the amount of refuge revenue paid varies each year - it’s set by Congress - Luke said the director has always requested full entitlement. To help in years of federal government shortfalls, the USFWS can dip into a trust fund it established 20 years ago.
In addition to the refuge revenue payment, Luke said the county could expect a lump sum payment of approximately $32,000 to offset lost tax revenue. That money can be used for any purpose, Luke said, adding that he encourages counties to invest those funds.
A third source of revenue will come in increased school aid for the school district in which the parcel is located. Luke said that amount varies as well.
“Those three payments will really help a lot in lieu of the current tax,” he added.
Commissioner Gene Metz asked if there was an allotment for the township. Luke replied that it’s the county’s responsibility if they want to share their revenue. “The lump sum payment is up to you, if you want to share that or not,” Luke said.
Other questions from commissioners pertained to tile (there is no county tile through the property), weed control and seed sourcing.
Metz was concerned about the invasive spread of Palmer Amaranth and wanted to make sure seed coming in is properly sourced.
“We harvest seeds off our own lands - we harvest from Touch the Sky Prairie (near Luverne, Minn.),” Luke said. “It’s local ecotype seed. We also get seed off some of our WPAs. This year we harvested over 12,000 pounds of seed.”
If seed is purchased, Luke said it is bought by the species.
While Luke said the property may look “pretty weedy” the first and possibly second year after seeding, his staff will monitor weed control through mowing and spraying.
Once the site is restored, Luke said the parcel will provide 15 acre feet of wetland storage, providing a public benefit and improved drainage.
“These areas are automatically open for public use - bird watchers, prairie enthusiasts, hunters,” Luke said, adding that water quality will also be improved.
“I’m very excited about this project. I think it’s going to be a great benefit to Nobles County and the folks in the area,” Luke said.
There was no action necessary from the board regarding the project.