LAKEVILLE, Minn. – Nov. 2, 2010 – Some of the most critical waterfowl habitat remaining in Minnesota will soon benefit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' shallow lakes program plan, "Managing Minnesota's Shallow Lakes for Waterfowl and Wildlife."
MN DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife developed the plan to establish goals for management and protection of shallow lakes to meet the objectives in DNR's Long Range Duck Recovery Plan (Duck Plan) and the division's strategic plan. The shallow lakes plan ─ which was recently released for public comment ─ will provide focus to shallow lake management undertaken by the DNR.
"Shallow lakes are the cornerstone of Minnesota's remaining waterfowl habitat," said Ryan Heiniger, DU director of conservation programs for Minnesota and Iowa, "and actively managing them to optimize their habitat quality and productivity for wildlife is key to meeting the goals of both DNR's duck recovery plan and DU's Living Lakes conservation initiative. The development and pending launch of the department's shallow lakes plan is a crucial step in focusing our collective efforts on the enhancement, restoration, protection and management of this important wetland resource," Heiniger said.
The state's duck plan and draft shallow lakes plan call for the management and protection of 1,800 shallow lakes throughout Minnesota during the next 45 years. The draft shallow lakes program plan calls for aggressively working to meet this goal by assessing 200 lakes per year and all 1,992 shallow lakes on or adjacent to public land.
In 2004, DU's Living Lakes initiative established an initial 10-year goal of enhancing, restoring and protecting 400 shallow lakes in Minnesota and Iowa. Shallow lake enhancement, restoration and protection are also key components of the Minnesota Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan developed for the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources as well as the habitat priorities identified by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council in 2010. Shallow lakes also provide important habitat for more than 20 "Species of Greatest Conservation Need."
DU works with MN DNR to assess, enhance, restore, manage and protect shallow lakes throughout the state. In the northern forest, DU and DNR cooperatively work to keep the outlets of about 100 wild rice lakes free flowing and free of beaver dams and other obstructions.
In the forest-prairie transition and prairie regions of Minnesota, invasive fish degrade water quality and habitat for ducks. DU bio-engineering staff helps DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service install water control structures, pumps and fish barriers to give managers the ability to periodically conduct temporary water level draw-downs that rejuvenate aquatic habitat and enhance aquatic plant and invertebrates sought by both migrating and breeding ducks.
Several grants recommended to the legislature for funding from both the LCCMR and LSOHC in recent years have helped DU and DNR accelerate their cooperative shallow lakes work, including a $2.5 million grant in 2009 and a $6.5 million grant in 2010.
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 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.
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