Shallow Lake & Wetland Protection Program - Phase III
$3,530,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Ducks Unlimited to acquire land in fee for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05, subdivision 8. A list of proposed land acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected 135 acres of Wetlands and 432 acres of Prairies.
Wetland and upland complexes will consist of native prairies, restored prairies, quality grasslands, and restored shallow lakes and wetlands.
Water is kept on the land.
Protected, restored, and enhanced nesting and migratory habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need.
Core areas protected with highly biologically diverse wetlands and plant communities, including native prairie, Big Woods, and oak savanna.
Protected, restored, and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands.
Expiring CRP lands are permanently protected.
Remnant native prairies and wetlands are permanently protected and are part of large complexes of restored prairie, grasslands, and large and small wetlands.
Improved condition of habitat on public lands.
Water is kept on the land.
Increased participation of private landowners in habitat projects.
Protected, restored, and enhanced habitat for waterfowl, upland birds, and species of greatest conservation need.
Ducks Unlimited private funds
Ducks Unlimited purchased a total of 567 acres in 11 separate parcels in the Prairie Section for the state of Minnesota, including 135 acres of wetlands and 432 acres of uplands. All 11 parcels have been restored and transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for inclusion in state Wildlife Management Areas, are open to public access, and managed for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. This prairie conservation work contributes to the goals of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, the Governor's Pheasant Action Plan, Minnesota's Long-range Duck Recovery Plan, and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
This ongoing public land acquisition and restoration program helps implement Minnesota's Prairie Conservation Plan. In the Prairie Section of Minnesota, 90% of our prairie wetlands have been drained and most native prairie uplands lost to agriculture. The wetland basins that remain are often large, deep wetlands and shallow lakes that now receive heavy runoff and drainage from the intensively cultivated landscape that surrounds them.
Some of our remaining wetland and shallow lake basins are surrounded in whole or part by state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) or federal Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA), while others exist in on private land nearby, sometimes in a partially-drained condition. Landscape drainage, intensive cultivation of the prairie landscape, and invasive fish such as carp has degraded these remaining wetlands and shallow lakes into turbid waters which provide only limited habitat benefit to migrating and brood-rearing waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife, and poor outdoor recreational opportunities for Minnesota duck hunters.
To remedy in-basin nutrient cycling that leads to turbidity and degraded waterfowl habitat conditions, DU partners with Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service managers to enhance, restore, and actively manage shallow lakes and wetlands through temporary water level draw-downs to consolidate sediments and nutrients, reduce and remove invasive fish, improve water clarity, and enhance the aquatic ecology in some shallow lake and large wetland basins under their control. DU actively supports these efforts by providing bio-engineering technical assistance and delivering water control structures through other OHF appropriations. However, as agriculture intensifies and pressures to convert idle land into row-crop production and other purposes grow, restoring land around these public lands containing wetlands and shallow lakes is also desperately needed to help buffer them, restore their watersheds, improve prairie-wetland habitat complexes, and meet the goals of Minnesota's Prairie Conservation Plan.
This program strives to buffer our remaining shallow lakes and wetlands on public land by acquiring and restoring lands immediately surrounding them. Some private land adjacent to our state WMAs containing remaining wetlands and shallow lakes include patches of native prairie or are restored cropland enrolled in the USDA’s short-term Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), but remain vulnerable to conversion back to agriculture due to rising row-crop and land prices, and need permanent protection. Other private lands are intensively cultivated right up to the edge of shallow lakes and wetlands, or to the edge of state WMAs containing such basins, and need to be restored and permanently protected. While some of these lands can be restored and protected thru the state or federal conservation easement programs, many other parcels come on the market for sale and must be acquired in fee-title in order to restore and protect them in perpetuity.
This Phase 3 of Ducks Unlimited's facilitative public land acquisition and restoration program focused on acquiring and restoring land adjoining state WMAs with shallow lakes and wetlands. Acquisition of these lands are for state public land ownership and management to further buffer WMAs with wetland basins and to create or improve the size of wetland complexes, restore and preserve prairie uplands and small wetlands around shallow lakes and WMAs, and make new shallow lake enhancement and wetland restoration projects possible.
Through this Phase 3 grant portion of our program, DU acquired (and restored where necessary) 11 parcels of land totaling 567 acres in seven different counties within the southern Prairie Section. These parcels included 135 acres of wetlands and 432 acres of upland habitat. This total of 567 acres acquired surpassed our projected goal for this grant of 400 acres, and thus this Phase 3 of our prairie land protection program was highly successful. All lands acquired have been transferred to the state of Minnesota for inclusion in state Wildlife Management Areas managed by the Minnesota DNR for wildlife management purposes, and are open to the public for outdoor recreational opportunities.