In 2015 Ducks Unlimited changed the face of Minnesota landscape to benefit waterfowl, wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. DU delivered a record number of conservation projects, affecting 33,641 acres of waterfowl habitat with an investment of more than $6 million.
Shallow lake enhancement
Six shallow lake projects totaling 1,236 acres on state Wildlife Management Areas or land under easement by Minnesota DNR:
- Eagle Lake, 409 acres, Ras-Lyn Wildlife Management Area, McLeod County
- Mud Lake, 253 acres, Erlandson Wildlife Management Area, Otter Tail County
- Cedar Lake, 243 acres, Stearns County
- Pickerel Lake, 148 acres, Chen Bay Wildlife Management Area, Lincoln County
- Lake 14, 48 acres, Klages Wildlife Management Area, Big Stone County
- Sioux Valley Wildlife Management Area, 135 acres, Jackson County
Wild rice lakes
In northern forested Minnesota, DU continued its partnership with Minnesota DNR to manage the outlets of 103 wild rice lakes totaling 27,349 acres. This management keeps these vital waterfowl food sources clear of beaver dams and other debris, which promotes natural lake hydrology, wild rice plant and seed growth.
In southern prairie Minnesota, DU completed two land purchases that will benefit public recreational access. This land, now open for public hunting, eventually will be transferred to Minnesota DNR:
- Swessinger Wildlife Management Area - 640 acres in Nobles County. DU bought the fully one-square-mile section of land to improve wildlife habitat. Formerly rolling prairie with many small wetlands in the heart of Prairie Pothole Region, today remains nearly 90% agricultural land. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, once restored the land has the capability to triple the area's breeding duck population.
- Sanborn Lake Wildlife ManagementArea - 75 acres in Le Sueur County. This parcel will be restored to prairie in spring 2016 and transferred to the state of Minnesota.
Private land conservation
DU's partnership continued with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources. In 2015 seven DU conservation consultants helped deliver restorations on Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) – Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easements:
- 53 RIM-WRP private land easements
- 1,677 wetland acres restored
- 2,603 prairie upland acres restored
Total of 4,240 acres restored in the Prairie Pothole Region of western and southern Minnesota, a primary breeding area for ducks in North America.