MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Feb. 26, 2021 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and numerous partners protected, enhanced or restored 28,281 acres of wetland and grassland habitat across 27 Minnesota project sites in 2020, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.
The milestones in 2020 were achieved with field staff taking extra precautions and applying creative solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acres conserved added to a sizeable historical investment in Minnesota. Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 237,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing more than $114 million in wetland habitats.
Partners included the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources. Funding came from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, North American Wetlands Conservation Act and private Ducks Unlimited Living Lakes Initiative Major Sponsors.
“More than 90% of the region’s prairie potholes have been lost due to drainage and conversion and more than 99% of its prairies have been plowed under or paved over,” said Jon Schneider, DU director of conservation program for the Living Lakes Initiative. “Our landscape-level conservation efforts help more than ducks. Wetlands benefit local residents by reducing flooding risk, improving water quality and boosting the economy.”
Highlights from 2020 include:
- Wild rice lakes – In northern Minnesota, Ducks Unlimited helped fund the MNDNR’s management of 86 wild rice lakes. The management will keep the lakes free-flowing and clear of beaver dams and other debris to help wild rice flourish and produce abundant seeds sought by ducks and wild rice harvesters.
- Southern Minnesota – DU purchased four new public lands totaling 441 acres for the Minnesota DNR, including 234 acres on Whitefield Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Willmar in Kandiyohi County, 15 acres on Monson WMA near Sunburg in Swift County, 72 acres on Henry X WMA near Benson in Swift County and 120 acres on Expandere WMA near Windom in Cottonwood County.
- NRCS partnership – Ducks Unlimited helped the NRCS and Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources restore 515 wetland and prairie acres on 13 private land parcels protected by U.S. Farm Bill conservation easements in western and southern Minnesota.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnership – Continued a program to protect and restore prairie grassland and wetland habitat by purchasing three new habitat conservation easements from private landowners that permanently protects 341 acres of private land in Douglas and Pope County.
- Wetland enhancements – DU completed three wetland enhancements improving 1,819 acres and 16 projects that restored 819 acres back to prairie wetlands and grassland on public land or private land under permanent conservation easements.
For a complete report of 2020 activities and a look into what’s planned for 2021 and beyond, see the Minnesota's Conservation Report and visit www.ducks.org/Minnesota.
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 nearly 15 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 www.ducks.org.