DU Expands Conservation Footprint in Minnesota

New water-control structures have helped to restore and enhance crucial wetland habitat on Orange Waterfowl Production Area.

New water-control structures have helped to restore and enhance crucial wetland habitat on Orange Waterfowl Production Area.

Ducks Unlimited’s delivery of wetland conservation projects continues at a rapid rate throughout Minnesota. In 2021 alone, DU and partners completed 31 conservation projects in the state, positively impacting 23,314 acres through DU’s Living Lakes Initiative. This included 1,642 acres of wetlands and grasslands on 23 projects across central and southern Minnesota, and 21,247 acres on 69 wild rice lakes in northern Minnesota.

A major highlight of the past year was DU’s work on Orange Waterfowl Production Area (WPA). Ducks Unlimited restored and enhanced 200 acres of wetland habitat on this 431-acre public area and adjacent private land. DU designed two water-control structures to restore 130 acres of wetlands in 16 basins that had previously been drained for agricultural use. These structures will allow the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to optimize management of wetland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

DU and the USFWS also enhanced 70 acres of wetland habitat in 32 small pothole basins on Orange WPA by removing accumulated sediment, placing ditch plugs in drainage outlets, and removing drain tile. These small temporary and seasonal wetland basins will complement larger wetlands restored on the WPA to provide ducks with the full suite of habitats they need for breeding, brood rearing, and migration.

Key to DU’s work are strong partnerships and robust state grants from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which have been complemented by federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants. These state and federal grants have been leveraged by private philanthropic donations from foundations, corporations, and individual DU Major Sponsors, including significant ongoing support from Flint Hills Resources.

“Thanks to all who continued to provide the critical private funding to help us leverage the public grants needed to accomplish this important waterfowl habitat conservation work in Minnesota,” said Jon Schneider, DU’s director of conservation programs in the state.