Minnesota landowners shape duck habitat

In Minnesota’s Prairie Pothole landscape, private landowners play a crucial role in wetlands and waterfowl conservation.

Landowner Brian Richardson sold Ducks Unlimited an 80-acre tract on the Shetek Wildlife Management Area

Landowner Brian Richardson sold Ducks Unlimited an 80-acre tract on the Shetek Wildlife Management Area

In Minnesota’s Prairie Pothole landscape, private landowners play a crucial role in wetlands and waterfowl conservation.

Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes Initiative conserves shallow lakes and wetlands from central Iowa through northern Minnesota, where more than 90 percent of the region's potholes have been lost due to drainage and conversion and more than 99 percent of its prairies are plowed under or paved over.

Conservation-minded landowners like Henry Goehle are helping Ducks Unlimited return some of that land to ducks and wildlife. Goehle sold Ducks Unlimited 153 acres on Tyler and Discors Wildlife Management Areas in southwest Minnesota, which included 16 acres of drained, restorable wetlands and about 137 acres of farmed uplands.

Ducks Unlimited is restoring the wetlands and re-seeding the farmed land to a diverse upland prairie grassland habitat. Goehle retained the house.

Henry Goehle sold Ducks Unlimited 153 acres on Tyler and Discors Wildlife Management Areas in southwest Minnesota.

“This was our family farmstead, and my parents throughout the years sold smaller wetland parcels to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,” Goehle said. “So, there’s a history of our family selling land for the conservation movement. Selling this land to Ducks Unlimited fits my parents’ heritage and tells a good story of my mom and dad.”

In nearby Lincoln County, landowner Brian Richardson sold Ducks Unlimited an 80-acre tract on the Shetek Wildlife Management Area which includes shoreline on a 200-acre shallow lake known as Robbins Marsh. Ducks Unlimited restored and protected eight acres of wetlands and 49 acres of prairie grassland habitat.

Kassy Dumke is the Ducks Unlimited biologist in Minnesota overseeing the two enhancements. She’s proud of the Goehle and Richardson families for restoring what was lost generations ago.

“I'm very fond of these projects because of the conservation values both landowners have,” Dumke said. “It’s great to work with folks who appreciate the land as much as we do and hope to leave behind a legacy.

Both projects are in partnership with the Minnesota Department of the Natural Resources and supported by an Outdoor Heritage Fund appropriation as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.