ST. MICHAEL, Minnesota Nov. 7, 2016 Ducks Unlimited has recognized two partners with conservation awards in Minnesota.

DU presented the 2016 Minnesota Conservation Partner Award to Fred Bengtson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Sauk Rapids area wildlife manager. The award recognizes Bengtsons strong wetlands conservation leadership and dedication to multiple shallow lake enhancement projects in central Minnesota.

"Since launching our Living Lakes conservation initiative in 2004 and a few years prior, Fred has been a champion for cooperative shallow lake enhancement projects and active wetland management," said Jon Schneider, manager of DUs Living Lakes Initiative. "Our shallow lakes partnership with the Minnesota DNR is very strong due largely to managers like Bengtson."

The largest and most recently completed project was the 3,765-acre Pelican Lake in Wright County, which wrapped this summer. Other DU projects Bengtson has supported include:

  • The 611-acre Woodland State Wildlife Management Area in Wright County, pending construction this fall;
  • 330-acre Smith Lake in Wright County near Howard Lake, completed in 2004;
  • 243-acre Cedar Lake in Stearns County near Sauk Centre, completed in 2015;
  • 149-acre Malardi Marsh in Wright County near Montrose, completed in 2013.

Don Sonderlund, center.

DU also recognized a key landowner on Pelican Lake for his strong support to enhance and protect the lake over the years. Don Soderlund was presented with the Minnesota Beyond The Call award.

The award is reserved for partners and landowners who go well beyond the call of what might typically be expected of them. "Since the 1960s, Don Soderlund was been a champion for the conservation of Pelican Lake and waterfowl in the area," Schneider said. "From DNRs wildlife lake designation of Pelican Lake in 1977 and through the more recent public meetings and DU conservation work, Don supported conservation of the lake for the ducks 100 percent."

DU presented the award to Soderlund just prior to his passing in October.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. 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 13.8 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. For more information on our work, visit

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Chris Sebastian
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