ALEXANDRIA, Minn., Dec. 5, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited has this week put three more large shallow lake enhancement projects in western and southern Minnesota out for competitive construction bids, bringing to six the total number of Outdoor Heritage Fund grant enhancement projects it now has underway. These six and two other pending shallow lake projects are supported by a 2009 grant from the newly created Outdoor Heritage Fund, as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council earlier this year
The three projects out for bid include building water control structures and fish barriers at 1,166–acre Rice Lake in Faribault County, 440-acre Curtis Lake in Yellow Medicine County and 316-acre Jennie Lake in Douglas County. Work will continue through next spring.
Contractors interested in bidding on DU projects should contact DU Regional Engineer Jim Streifel at email@example.com go to www.ducks.org/gproengineering for more information.
"Enhancement of these important shallow lake projects is now imminent," said Jon Schneider, manager of Minnesota conservation programs for DU. "Ducks and hunters alike will find improved conditions at these lakes in the near future."
Each of these three shallow lakes are legally designated wildlife management lakes by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which means they constitute some of the most important duck migration and brood-rearing habitat in the state. A wildlife management lake designation gives the state the legal ability to actively control water levels to optimize them for wildlife habitat, especially for waterfowl. When these projects are completed, DNR wildlife managers will be able to periodically draw-down water levels to induce winterkill of invasive fish and rejuvenate the aquatic ecology of these large wetland basins. Temporary, periodic draw-downs that mimic natural drought cycles are used to rejuvenate wetlands, much like fire does to prairie grassland systems.
"As we work to restore southern Minnesota's prairie landscape, new and improved water control structures are needed to allow our field staff to optimize the quality of wetland habitat we have under management control," said Mark Matuska, southern regional director in New Ulm for DNR. "These large basins are critical to waterfowl, and we are pleased to have a strong partnership with DU to get this important work done for the ducks and improve water quality as well."
Shallow lake enhancement projects are complex and take years to complete. Assessment surveys to determine basin condition are conducted by DNR shallow lakes program field staff to initiate the project process, followed by detailed survey and design work by DU and DNR, and ultimately structure construction and lake management after all necessary easements and permits are received.
Additional project funding was secured by DNR and DU from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Flint Hills Resources, and DU major sponsors.
"Shallow lakes are some of Minnesota's most important remaining waterfowl habitat," said Dennis Simon, chief of the wildlife management section in Minnesota DNR's Division of Fisheries & Wildlife. "The infusion of dedicated conservation tax funding should help us accelerate habitat conservation work for the ducks, and we look forward to implementing many more shallow lake enhancement projects in the future."
Other DU shallow lake enhancement projects currently under construction in Minnesota includes Ash Lake in Grant County, Cory Lake in Lac Qui Parle County, Round Lake in Murray County, Perch Lake and Cottonwood Lake in Blue Earth County, Hurricane Lake in Cottonwood County, and Gislason Lake in Lincoln County. Several other projects have been fully engineered and will be constructed next year through DU's grant from the OHF once final permits and easements are issued and secured by agency partners.
This cooperative partnership work between DU and DNR to enhance degraded shallow lakes will help fulfill the shallow lake goals of both DNR's Duck Recovery Plan and DU's Living Lakes. These projects also address the habitat objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.
Becky Jones-Mahlum, Bismarck, N.D.
Jennifer Kross, Bismarck, N.D.