Ducks Unlimited dedicated three major conservation projects in Minnesota this summer.
Volunteers, staff and DU members gathered July 30 to dedicate the acquisition of 70 acres on Swan Lake State Wildlife Management Area in Nicollet County. The land was dedicated to 320 DU Legacy Greenwing members, who are youth members of Ducks Unlimited under the age of 18, often enrolled by parents or family members.
DU bought the parcel in 2014 from the Zins family estate to protect the tract’s prairie and wetland habitat for nesting waterfowl and other prairie wildlife. The parcel buffers the 10,000-acre Swan Lake, into which this land drains. Swan Lake is the largest glaciated depressional Prairie Pothole wetland in North America, and a keystone shallow lake in DU’s Living Lakes conservation initiative.
DU purchased and donated the land to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through a 2013 state appropriation from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The land is open to the public for hunting and outdoor recreation. DU Minnesota state chair-elect Ruth Hoefs and Lessard-Sams Council member Barry Tilley spoke at the dedication about the importance of restoring and preserving habitat for both ducks and other wildlife, and also for future generations of hunters.
On Aug. 28, DU dedicated more than 3,700 acres of wetlands at Roseau River Wildlife Management Area in Roseau County on the Canadian border to 67 DU Legacy Greenwing members. Ducks Unlimited helped the Minnesota DNR restore the wetlands in 1985, and it was one of the first large wetlands to be restored in the United States by Ducks Unlimited. DU Minnesota state Chair Brian Ross attended the dedication, and spoke about the importance of DU’s complimentary conservation work in Minnesota and Canada to fulfilling the annual life cycle needs of migratory birds, including waterfowl.
On Sept. 11, Ducks Unlimited dedicated the 310-acre Duck Lake in northern Crow Wing County near Emily to 54 DU Living Lakes Initiative Major Sponsors. Duck Lake is a 310-acre shallow wild rice lake in the Minnesota DNR’s Duck Lake State Wildlife Management Area. The lake was drained in the 1920s and restored by the Minnesota DNR in the 1950s. However, water levels became too high, which drowned most wild rice in the lake.
To enhance the lake, DU installed a more natural rock weir at an elevation that allows Duck Lake to flow out naturally and wild rice to flourish. The project was funded by a 2010 state appropriation from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the LSOHC.