Accelerate the Waterfowl Production Area Program in Minnesota
Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered to permanently protect, restore and enhance 1,630 acres of grassland and 294 acres of wetland as Waterfowl Production Areas in Western and Southern Minnesota. All lands acquired will be owned and managed in perpetuity by the USFWS as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and open for public recreation.
Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acquired 12 parcels of land from willing sellers totaling 1,522 acres within priority wildlife habitat complexes throughout the prairie and metro regions of the state. Partners were highly successful at securing parcels as evidenced with a 86% acquisition completion rate (12 out of 14 projects closed) because appraisal values were competitive due to the fact most transactions were completed before the agricultural market boom in 2012. All of the acquired parcels are additions onto existing permanently protected wildlife habitat complexes creating an even larger benefit to waterfowl and the myriad of wildlife species that depend on these wetland / grassland habitats. All parcels have been donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are now protected and managed in perpetuity as Waterfowl Productions Areas (WPA) under the National Wildlife Refuge System. Each parcel is open for public recreation, including hunting, as defined by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act.
Each acquired parcel has also been restored and/or enhanced to as a high quality as practicable to ensure the maximum amount of benefits to migratory birds and other wildlife species. Wetlands restorations of various types, including seasonal wetlands, were restored by breaking drain tile lines, filling drainage ditches, constructing earthen dams, and installing water control structures. Invasive tree removal work was completed on many of these newly acquired lands and all agricultural fields restored to grasslands were restored using a broadcast or drill seeded method with a diverse mix of native grasses and forb species. In addition, 100 acres of wetland and grasslands were restored and 302 acres of prairie were enhanced on existing Waterfowl Production Areas in Pope and Traverse Counties, MN. These restored and permanently protected acres will provide critical habitat for breeding/migrating waterfowl as reproductive and winter habitat for grassland game and non game species.
The work completed in this project has accelerated investment into permanently protected wildlife habitat complexes through the highly successful USFWS Waterfowl Production Area program. The outcomes of this project protects, maintains, and increases waterfowl and other wildlife populations within these areas. Furthermore, this work helps to improve water quality, reduces soil erosion, and provides public areas for Minnesotans to recreate in the outdoors, something so fundamental to ensure Minnesota’s future outdoor heritage.