"Wildlife doesn't just happen—you have to provide for it," said Larry Carlson, an Evansville, Minnesota, farmer who has incorporated a number of conservation programs into his corn, soybeans and wheat operation.
Larry and his wife, Vicki, along with her brother John Cunz recently donated a 180-acre conservation easement to Ducks Unlimited. They are also benefiting from incentives from the federal farm bill.
"My wife, Vicki, and I like being able to enjoy God's creations every day," said Carlson. "Planting and watching our crops grow, and then reaping the harvest, is very rewarding. Also, seeing wildlife every day adds to our enjoyment of living on a farm."
The Carlson farm lies in a beautiful area where the prairie meets the woodland. The land is popular with waterfowl like mallards, wood ducks and canvasbacks. Larry has made it even more attractive to ducks by restoring wetlands, converting cropland to grass through the Conservation Reserve Program and planting grass buffer strips around fields.
"I'm living on my family's original farm, and I grew up hunting," he said. "I definitely feel there is a place for wildlife here."
Duck hunting was a favorite pastime of Larry and Vicki's families, and their children grew up hunting as well. The family has put up a number of wood duck boxes and nesting cylinders on their property, and Larry has planted wildlife food plots for 35 years.
The Carlsons are just one farm family of many who take care of their land in ways that also benefit wildlife. "There are a fair number of farmers around here who enjoy seeing and hunting wildlife," said Carlson.
Learn more about DU's Land Protection Program