Shallow Lake & Wetland Protection & Restoration Program - Phase VII
$4,770,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with Ducks
Unlimited to acquire lands in fee and to restore
and enhance prairie lands, wetlands, and land
buffering shallow lakes for wildlife management
under Minnesota Statutes, section 86A.05,
subdivision 8. A list of proposed acquisitions
must be provided as part of the required
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..
DU private and future federal NAWCA
This Phase 7 request for Ducks Unlimited’s land acquisition and restoration program. DU will acquire and restore 550 acres of prairie and wetlands on state Wildlife Management Areas and managed shallow lakes in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota for transfer to the Minnesota DNR for inclusion in the WMA system. This land acquisition and restoration work will focus on land that buffers shallow lakes and wetlands, and restores breeding habitat for ducks and other prairie wildlife. DNR will help seed uplands, and DU engineers will survey, design, and hire private sector contractors to complete wetland restorations.
This is Phase 7 of Ducks Unlimited's ongoing program to both Acquire and Restore wetlands and prairie on land for sale adjacent to existing Minnesota DNRs State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). DU works with willing seller private landowners adjacent to WMAs that have drained wetlands and converted prairie uplands, and land on shallow lakes in need of protection. DU purchases and holds land title through it's Wetlands America Trust (WAT), DU’s supporting land-holding fiduciary organization, of which DU is the sole corporate member. Our goal is to help create functioning prairie-wetland habitat complexes and complement other conservation efforts to protect intact native prairie. Our work addresses the habitat goals 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 has already spent most ML2016 OHF funds to purchase six tracts.DU works in close partnership with the Minnesota DNR Section of Wildlife and coordinates with Pheasants Forever and other national and state NGO partners, and with local sportsmen clubs such as 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 shares information with counties to ensure public awareness of our conservation work, and routinely attends county board meetings to discuss questions. The acquisitions and restorations proposed represents the amount of work DU can accomplish in three to five 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 engineers and biologists 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 involve extensive drainage systems.