Attending the Pelican Lake dedication are (l to r) Dave Flink, DU Minnesota state chairman; Jim Cox, Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council; Deb Steiskal, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's office; Pat Sawatzke, Wright County commissioner; Greg Swanholm, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar's Office; Paul Schmidt, DU chief conservation officer; Tom Landwehr, MN DNR commissioner; Jim Leach, USFWS refuge supervisor; and Paul Bonderson, DU senior VP for conservation programs.
DU has added 60 acres and 3,000 feet of shoreline to the Pelican Lake Waterfowl Production Area with the first land DU purchased using dollars from the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund. DU and its partners recently dedicated the property, which DU will later this year donate to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for long-term management as a waterfowl production area.
"Pelican has a long history of heavy waterfowl use and strong waterfowling traditions," said David Flink, DU Minnesota state chairman, "DU's 38,000 Minnesota members are very excited to see the Legacy Amendment produce on-the-ground results like this project."
As one of only 45 shallow lakes legally designated by the state for active wildlife management, the 4,000-acre Wright County shallow lake suffers from high and turbid water, as well as invasive fish, which degrade the habitat ducks need in spring and summer as they prepare to reproduce and rear young. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and DU are designing an outlet water-control structure to give managers the ability to enhance the lake's aquatic ecology. Meanwhile, DU and partners are working cooperatively with private landowners to protect the lake's shoreline and restore its immediate shoreland. The land DU purchased was destined for housing development, due to its proximity to the Twin Cities and the I-94 corridor.
The DNR and USFWS seeded the property back to native plants and restored the wetlands. As the newest addition to the Pelican Lake WPA, the land will be open to public hunting.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar thanked the partners for completing this project. "Like most Minnesotans, I grew up in a family that values the outdoors," Klobuchar said. "We need to protect this natural land, water and habitat so our children and their children can experience it just as we once did."
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said DU's tireless efforts to complete the Pelican Lake Waterfowl Production Area must be commended. "I am certain this area will provide countless opportunities for generations of current and future Minnesotans to enjoy our great state's natural resources," Bachmann said.
The Minnesota State Legislature appropriated dollars from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for the project, which the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended. Partners included Pheasants Forever, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wright County Board of Commissioners, Flint Hills Resources, Great River Energy, Wild Wings, Montgomery Family and DU members.