Accelerated Shallow Lakes and Wetland Enhancement - Phase VII
$2,130,000 in the first 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.
Improved availability and improved condition of habitats that have experienced substantial decline - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the wetland base called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans. Area wildlife staff and/or shallow lakes staff will monitor completed projects to determine success of implementation and to assess the need for future management and/or maintenance..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 base called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans. Area wildlife staff and/or shallow lakes staff will monitor completed projects to determine success of implementation and to assess the need for future management and/or maintenance..Protected habitats will hold wetlands and shallow lakes open to public recreation and hunting - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure will provide the wetland base called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans. Area wildlife staff and/or shallow lakes staff will monitor completed projects to determine success of implementation and to assess the need for future management and/or maintenance..Protected, restored, and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands - Intensive wetland management and habitat infrastructure maintenance will provide the wetland base called for in numerous prairie, shallow lake and waterfowl plans. Area wildlife staff and/or shallow lakes staff will monitor completed projects to determine success of implementation and to assess the need for future management and/or maintenance..
This proposal will address a backlog of shallow lake and wetland habitat work that will otherwise go unfunded. These projects will address work called for in the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, Long Range Duck Recovery Plan, and Shallow Lakes plan.
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.
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 overwater 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.
And it goes without saying that Minnesota wetlands, besides being invaluable for waterfowl, also provide other desirable functions and values - habitat for a wide range of species, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood water storage, shoreline protection, and economic benefits.
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 aforementioned 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. Additionally, wetlands continue to be lost or degraded by ongoing ditching and tiling from agriculture and other forces. In our remaining wetland habitat, 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 the shallow lakes and wetlands still on the landscape can be markedly improved by controlling invasive species and rough fish, and installing fish barriers where needed and aggressively managing water levels to meet management objectives. This proposal seeks to implement engineering design of dikes, water control structures, and fish barriers (Design), installing the of design elements (Construction), and intensifying the application of management techniques such as invasive species control, water level manipulation, and wild rice seeding (Intensive Management). Additionally, the proposal seeks to continue the the successful model of regional roving habitat crews to address the growing backlog of wetland habitat management on Wildlife Management Areas.
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.
Five construction projects on wetland and shallow lake basins have been identified to upgrade or replace wetland habitat infrastructure. Three projects will be designed with funding from this proposal to prepare for future construction. One project will be undertaken to manage dense monotypic stands of cattails that are negatively impacting the value of wetlands for wildlife habitat. One project will be undertaken to draw down a shallow lake and apply piscicide to remove rough fish. Roving habitat crews will accomplish wetland habitat work that will include, but not be limited to, managing water levels, maintaining fish barriers, inducing winterkill of fish, controlling invasive plants and fish, and encouraging native plant assemblages.
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.