Accelerated Shallow Lakes and Wetland Enhancement Phase VI
$1,050,000 in the second year is to the commissioner of natural resources to enhance and restore shallow lakes statewide. A list of proposed land restorations and enhancements must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Management of habitat and maintenance of infrastructure should show demonstrable increase of quality habitat needed by wetland wildlife species..Improved availability and improved condition of habitats that have experienced substantial decline - Improved habitat conditions that result from intensive management and improved wetland infrastructure results in more diverse wildlife and in greater numbers. .Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the wetland based called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans..Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need - Wetland habitat work should offset continued lost and degraded wetlands in this region and should benefit hunters and provide wetland functions and values. Shallow lake specialists and other wildlife staff conduct pre and post-management monitoring of shallow lake management to assess benefits..Increased waterfowl and upland bird migratory and breeding success - Hunters should benefit from increased habitat quality, giving them both more high-value areas to hunt and providing more waterfowl..Improved condition of habitat on public lands - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the prairie-wetland based called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans..Increased wildlife productivity - Intensive management and ongoing improvement and maintenance of wetland infrastructure provides for needed wetland wildlife habitat. Hunter and wildlife-viewer satisfaction should benefit..Remnant native prairies are part of large complexes of restored prairies, grasslands, and large and small wetlands - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the prairie-wetland based called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans..Improve aquatic vegetation - Shallow lake specialists and other wildlife staff conduct pre and post-management monitoring of shallow lake management to assess benefits. Aquatic vegetation sampling is part of this assessment..Enhanced shallow lake productivity - Shallow lake specialists and other wildlife staff conduct pre and post-management monitoring of shallow lake management to assess benefits..Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for migratory and unique Minnesota species - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the prairie-wetland based called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans..
Many of Minnesota's wetlands have been lost and the remainder degraded. Recent tiling and ditching have accelerated this situation. Through this proposal, shallow lakes and wetlands will be designed, constructed, and intensively managed to benefit wetland wildlife and Minnesota residents.
Approximately 30 species of waterfowl are regular migrants through Minnesota. More than a dozen breed and nest in Minnesota. While each of these species has its own particular habitat needs the common bond is a dependence on wetland habitat for survival. Meeting the needs of these waterfowl requires a complex of wetland sizes and types ranging from temporary and seasonal wetlands to large permanent shallow lakes.
Minnesota’s breeding waterfowl go through five life stages in our state: Breeding, Nesting, Brood Rearing, Molting, and Migration. Each life stage has its own characteristic habitat needs. For example, for most species, especially dabbling ducks, the number of breeding pairs in the spring is driven by the number of small wetlands. The small size helps reduce disturbance by other ducks and the abundant wetland invertebrates they provide are critical to providing the fat, protein, and calcium needed by hens as they prepare for egg laying.
Nesting dabbling duck hens and some diver species require adequate upland cover for actual nesting but are dependent on nearby wetlands for continuing nutrition throughout the egg laying and incubation period. High quality shallow lakes and wetlands fill this need. Seasonal wetlands are particularly critical for dabbling ducks. Over water nesting species depend on wetlands and shallow lakes with a good interspersion of emergent vegetation for nesting sites and nesting material.
Food is critical for the survival of growing ducklings and molting hens. Seasonal wetlands fill this critical role during wet years while semi-permanent wetlands and shallow lakes increase in importance as the summer progresses. Regardless of the wetland type, poor plant and invertebrate quality due to invasive fish and nutrient loading can negate the expected benefits.
Food and protection from disturbance are the critical elements needed to attract and hold waterfowl during fall migration. Wetland quality and depth are critical drivers of wetland based food resources. Large basins provide more inherent protection from disturbance although wetland and shallow lake based refuges are very important.
An estimated 90% of Minnesota’s prairie wetlands have been lost, more than 50% of our statewide wetland resource. Throughout the state, remaining shallow lakes and wetlands provide the critical habitat for each life stage of waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. Unfortunately these benefits are too often compromised by degraded habitat quality due to excessive runoff and invasive plants and fish.
High quality shallow lakes and wetlands have clear water and abundant rooted aquatic vegetation. Emergent aquatic plants such as rushes and wild rice provide protective cover from weather and predators as well as over-water nesting habitat. Submergent aquatic plants provide food in the form of seeds and tubers and critical habitat for aquatic invertebrates. Very shallow seasonal wetlands can be critical sources of invertebrates and nutritious plant seeds during spring, early summer and fall, particularly for dabbling ducks.
The quality of shallow lakes and wetlands providing wildlife habitat has declined markedly due to landscape changes, increased runoff carrying sediment and nutrients, and invasive plant and fish species. Only about one prairie wetland in five exhibits good quality vegetation while just under a third provide good habitat for invertebrates. While wetlands in the forest-prairie transition fare better with a little fewer than half providing good habitat for invertebrates they actually do a bit worse for aquatic plants due to invasive species.
The habitat quality of these shallow lakes and wetlands can be markedly improved by installing fish barriers where needed and aggressively managing water levels to meet management objectives. This proposal applies scientific assessment to diagnose specific habitat problems and recommend treatments (Pre-design), engineering design of dikes, water control structures, and fish barriers (Design), installing the design elements (Construction), and intensifying the application of management techniques (Management).
The shallow lakes and wetlands identified in this proposal for enhancement were proposed and ranked by DNR Area Wildlife Supervisors through their respective Regional Wildlife Managers. The proposals were reviewed by the Wetland Wildlife Program Consultant and the Wildlife Operations Manager prior to inclusion in this proposal.
Four construction projects on wetland and shallow lake basins have been identified to upgrade dikes and water level control structures. Another project will be designed. Additionally, invasive cattails and phragmites will be managed on public properties in Minnesota DNR Regions 1 and 3. Highest priority parcels will be selected by Area Wildlife Managers and management will be accomplished by herbicide treatment and will seek to control these aquatic invasive plants that can otherwise completely overcome wetland systems and severely reduce their value as wildlife habitat.
Program managers may add, delete, and substitute projects on the approved parcel list based upon need, readiness, cost, opportunity, and/or urgency so long as the substitute parcel/project forwards the constitutional objectives of this program in the Project Scope table of this accomplishment plan. The final accomplishment plan report will include the final parcel list.
This proposal reflects the strategies of the 2006 DNR Duck Recovery Plan and 2010 Shallow Lake Plan. These plans underwent substantial review by nearly all the major wetland wildlife conservation groups in Minnesota. Stakeholders have been supportive of the strategies outlined in the plans, although some have expressed frustration with the long timeline.