Another Minnesota lake benefits from DU enhancement
The conditions of yet another Minnesota lake are improving thanks to Ducks Unlimited. DU has begun work enhancing Jennie Lake in Douglas County, Minn. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency declared Jennie Lake endangered in 2008 because of exceedingly high nutrient levels. The enhancement project will significantly improve water quality by decreasing the nutrient load, which will in turn foster the growth of aquatic vegetation and improve communities of aquatic invertebrates, critical sources of food for waterfowl.
Improved water quality and management at Jennie Lake will help diving ducks that rely on aquatic plants, seeds, tubers and invertebrates, such as freshwater shrimp, to replenish nutrient and energy reserves during migration. These resources are particularly important in the spring, when female ducks must maintain and improve their body condition prior to laying eggs on the breeding grounds.
The Jennie Lake project is one of eight shallow-lake enhancement projects DU has underway in Minnesota. These projects are partially funded by a 2009 Outdoor Heritage Fund grant recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
To enhance the 316-acre lake, DU engineered and is installing a water-control structure and an electric pump that will allow the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to better manage water levels and improve lake conditions.
"With the warm weather and removal of weight limits on the roads, our contractor, Duininck Brothers Inc., of Willmar, was able to begin work, and we should be able to complete the project ahead of schedule," said Matt Olson, DU construction manager. "We'll be working with Runestone Electric in May to run power to the site for the pump, so we should have it running later this summer."
Members of Congress on hand as DU receives grant to restore Great Lakes
DU's work in the Great Lakes region continues to make history. DU recently received one of the first-ever Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants through the Sustain Our Great Lakes program. DU and its partners will use the $783,823 grant to restore coastal streams and marshes in northern Michigan.
Partners and other grant recipients gathered in Grand Rapids, Mich., along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Vernon Ehlers—both of Michigan—to celebrate the first grants funded by the historic initiative, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
"Ducks Unlimited is here today because they're always here when the Great Lakes needs them," said Sen. Stabenow. "Theirs is exactly the sort of work that the GLRI is meant to support: impactful, on-the-ground improvements to Great Lakes habitat."
DU received the grant for work on the Arcadia Marsh/Bowens Creek restoration and fish passage in Manistee County, Mich. When completed, DU and its grant partners will have restored 10 miles of fish passage, 75 acres of coastal marsh and 11 miles of stream and fish habitat. The grant also will lead to the protection of 128 acres of coastal marsh.
Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office in Ann Arbor, Mich., said, "It's an exciting time to be doing habitat work in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has the potential to have a huge impact on conservation work in the area."
DU received GLRI funds through Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public/private partnership coordinated by the NFWF and funded by ArcelorMittal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NAWCA enables DU, Nebraska landowners to team up for critical habitat conservation
Ducks Unlimited is using innovation to help Nebraska landowners while providing waterfowl habitat in the state's Rainwater Basin.
A new $1 million grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) will allow DU to use some of these techniques, as well as enhance public lands to increase recreation and tourism opportunities in the area.
"We know our work to provide habitat in Nebraska will be more successful if we act in ways that benefit landowners," said Steve Donovan, DU's manager of conservation programs for Nebraska.
The NAWCA grant will restore and protect more than 4,100 acres of habitat in the Rainwater Basin through 14 separate projects. One of the projects funded by the grant will allow DU to trade good cropland for marginal cropland in order to restore a 300-acre wetland that will become part of the Nelson Waterfowl Production Area.
"This land trade will keep the best cropland in production, while allowing the marginal cropland to be restored to wetlands, providing habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife," said Donovan. "It's a win-win for the landowner and waterfowl."
Donovan said much of the land restored through this grant will be managed through grazing. "Beef is an important segment of the Nebraska economy," he said. "And controlled grazing can keep the grass and wetlands in good shape for cows and wildlife."
Nebraska's Rainwater Basin has lost about 90 percent of its original wetlands, yet millions of waterfowl and other birds continue to migrate through this area in search of places to rest and refuel. The Rainwater Basin is one of the most important wetland ecosystems in the Central Flyway, particularly during spring migration, when millions of waterfowl stop there during their long migratory flights.
"A big part of the work we do in the Rainwater Basin is to restore the natural functions of wetlands in the area," said Donovan. "Some of the wetlands have been drained and others have become choked with dense stands of perennial plant species limiting food availability for waterfowl."
NAWCA conserves America's waterfowl, fish and wildlife resources while producing a variety of environmental and economic benefits. Since the program's creation in 1989, conservationists—from private landowners to large corporations—have leveraged the federal share of NAWCA, which is over $1 billion, with over $3 billion in partner funds. Federal dollars that go to NAWCA often are tripled by state and local partners. More than 25 million acres of vital wildlife habitat have been conserved thanks to this program.