Scarce Minnesota Prairie Pothole Land Protected

Three parcels recently saved across southern Minnesota for ducks and people

Ducks take flight near a restored wetland at Indian Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Ducks take flight near a restored wetland at Indian Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Photo © John Lindstrom

Minnesota’s Prairie Pothole Region is a top priority for Duck’s Unlimited because of its importance to waterfowl.

However, only 10 percent of the region’s wetlands and 1 percent of native prairie remain. Ducks Unlimited is focused on protecting what remains and recently saved three parcels across southern Minnesota for ducks and people.

Photo © Kassy Hendricks

In 2017 and 2018, Ducks Unlimited acquired two parcels totaling 81 acres for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources near Altona Wildlife Management Area in Lincoln County. These tracts are predominantly native prairie and intact wetlands are along Flandreau Creek south of Lake Benton.

Lincoln County is known for large tracts of intact native prairie-wetland complexes. Acquisition of these land tracts by Ducks Unlimited will permanently protect 52 acres of intact emergent wetlands, 10 acres of native prairie and 20 acres of restored grassland habitat. They are being transferred to the state for long-term management and public use, including hunting. Public land ownership will ensure these lands continue to provide nesting habitat for an estimated 31 to 40 pairs of breeding ducks per square mile each year.

About two hours east of Altona WMA, Ducks Unlimited purchased and restored a 95-acre tract of land adjacent to Indian Lake Wildlife Management Area, near Winthrop in Sibley County.

In 2017, field staff restored the former cropland back to a more natural state for the benefit of migrating and breeding waterfowl. Staff removed subsurface tile and accumulated sediment to restore a three-acre prairie pothole wetland, seeded the surrounding 40 acres with a diverse mix of native grasses and forbs and removed invasive trees ringing an existing 15-acre wetland on the property.

Funding for these public land acquisitions was provided through Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund appropriations to Ducks Unlimited as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Additional funding was provided by private philanthropic contributions to Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes Initiative from individuals, foundations, and corporations.