Shallow Lake & Wetland Protection Program - Phase VI
This Phase 6 request for Ducks Unlimited's land protection and restoration program will acquire and restore 600 acres of prairie land on shallow lakes and prairie land with restorable wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota for transfer to the Minnesota DNR for inclusion in the state Wildlife Management Area system. This land acquisition and restoration work will focus on land that buffers shallow lakes and provides breeding habitat for ducks and other prairie wildlife. DU engineers will survey and design wetland restorations, and contract with private sector firms for restoration construction and earth moving work.
This is Phase 6 of Ducks Unlimited's ongoing prairie land acquisition/protection program in Minnesota, which acquires and restores land with drained wetlands adjacent to existing public lands and shallow lakes for inclusion in the Minnesota DNR's state Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system. DU focuses on the acquisition and restoration of converted prairie and drained wetlands adjacent to existing WMAs to create functioning prairie-wetland habitat complexes and compliment other conservation efforts to protect intact native prairie . Our work addresses the habitat goals identified in Minnesota's Long-range Duck Recovery Plan, Minnesota's Prairie Conservation Plan, and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. This work is time-sensitive because farmland adjacent to state WMAs is rarely offered for sale for conservation, and tracts are only available for a short time. DU works quickly and efficiently to augment state acquisition efforts.DU works in close partnership with the Minnesota DNR Section of Wildlife and coordinates with other national and state NGO partners including Pheasants Forever, The Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy with support from local stakeholders such as Fox Lake Conservation League, Swan Lake Area Wildlife Association, and Cottonwood County Game and Fish League. Although pre-approval resolutions are not requested from county boards for DU land acquisitions, DU routinely shares information with counties to ensure public awareness of our conservation work, and the public benefits thereof, in advance and attends DU county board meetings to discuss any questions. The work proposed represents the amount of land acquisition DU can accomplish in three years, is scalable, and benefits game and non-game wildlife species alike - from mallards to monarch butterflies.Because 90% of our prairie wetlands have been drained and 99% of our prairie uplands converted in Minnesota, acquisition and restoration of prairie and small wetlands is critical – especially for breeding waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota where DU focuses our efforts. Furthermore, most remaining wetlands here are in poor ecological condition due massive landscape prairie conversion to cropland and wetland drainage that degrades both wetland condition and habitat function for prairie wildlife. Although many of our remaining prairie wetlands and shallow lakes are contained within state WMAs or federal Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA), these small public land patches rarely provide optimal wildlife habitat due to their fragmented size and juxtaposition. Similarly, most prairie shallow lakes are surrounded by a thin ribbon of uplands that fail to adequately buffer them from surrounding agricultural land runoff. Therefore, acquisition and restoration of drained wetlands and cultivated prairie lands in close proximity to our public lands will improve and buffer our public shallow lakes and wetlands, and help create functioning prairie-wetland complexes of habitat for breeding ducks and other prairie wildlife. DU professional biological and engineering staff work closely with DNR field staff to plan and implement both robust prairie and wetland restorations, including diverse native forb/grass seed plantings and complex wetland restorations that often require extensive drainage system modification and expensive sediment removal to restore functioning wetlands for prairie wildlife.
$5,750,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Ducks Unlimited to acquire land in fee and restore prairie lands, wetlands and land buffering shallow lakes for wildlife management purposes under Minnesota Statutes 86A.05, subdivision 8. A list of proposed acquisitions must be provided as part of the required accomplishment plan.
Protected, restored, and enhanced shallow lakes and wetlands - Land bordering shallow lakes and land containing drained wetlands will be acquired and restored back to functioning wetlands with native grass and forb wildflowers in uplands surrounding them as habitat for pollinators, migratory birds, and resident wildlife. Lands will transferred into the state Wildlife Management Area system to provide additional prairie habitat for migratory species and public use, both of which will be monitored by Minnesota DNR. Restored wetland basins will be monitored by DNR area wildlife field staff, and managed to optimize wetland habitat conditions. Prairie uplands will be managed to minimize trees and encourage native plant species..
NAWCA and DU Private