Unimin, students, partner to improve Minnesota waterfowl habitat

Unimin Corporation is no stranger to wood duck habitat conservation in Minnesota.

With more than 2,000 acres along the Minnesota River Valley at Unimin's Ottawa, Minnesota, facility, land management for wildlife has been part of ongoing mining, reclamation, restoration and conservation activities on the property since the 1980s.

A wood duck management project was established by engaged employees at the site to help increase the waterfowl population in the area. The project included the construction and placement of hundreds of artificial nesting structures for woodies over the years.

To make these efforts even more valuable, Unimin has involved school groups in this and other habitat projects at the site as part of a Wildlife Habitat Council initiative to provide fun, hands-on learning opportunities for youth.

Recently, 25 students from the Minnesota New Country School in Henderson, Minnesota, honed their skills in woodworking and construction by building 25 artificial nesting structures for woodies. They researched and collected data about waterfowl habitat and gained hands-on conservation experience.

In May 2013, students ventured out to the wetland habitats on Unimin's site to install these structures. Students then used hand-held GPS equipment to determine the location of new and existing boxes, and also assessed the condition of the boxes and utilization by hens. Since then, students have revisited the site each spring for the past three years to annually document the condition and usage of the boxes. This information is then used to inform success, relocate boxes not being used and determine habitat improvements to foster increased nesting.

Corporations are vital supporters of Ducks Unlimited's mission and play an important role in protecting wetland habitats through operations and conservation practices. Unimin is one of North America's leading producers of non-metallic industrial minerals. Unimin is a leading corporate citizen, not only through strong conservation initiatives, but by fostering the next generation of conservationists.

For more information on Unimin and its approach to conservation, visit: www.uniminsustainability.com.