Accelerate the Waterfowl Production Area Program in Minnesota, Phase 2
Pheasants Forever (PF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will cooperate to permanently restore and protect approximately 1397.31 acres as Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) in western and southern Minnesota. All lands acquired through this grant proposal will be owned and managed by the Service as part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Pheasants Forever in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acquired 11 parcels of land from willing sellers totaling 1,397.31 acres within priority wildlife habitat complexes throughout the prairie and forest prairie regions of the state. Partners were highly successful at securing parcels closing 11 out of 14 projects. 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. Further, we are happy to report that over $3.2 million in match was leveraged through this effort. This match came from a variety of federal sources as well as donations of land value. This exceeds our original match goal by over 10%.
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.These restored and permanently protected acres will provide critical habitat for breeding/migrating waterfowl and 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 outcome 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.