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Moist soil management for waterfowl comes to Minnesota (2005-09-13)

Moist soil management, a technique commonly practiced in southern states, has come to Minnesota. Construction has been completed on two impoundments totaling 110 acres with the sole objective of producing high energy food plants for waterfowl, said Dave Trauba, Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager at Lac qui Parle.

"Basically, moist soil management is the manipulation of water levels throughout the year to produce aquatic plant food and the invertebrates these aquatic plants support," Trauba said.

The design of the impoundments and pumps will provide the flexibility to raise and lower water levels to maximize the diversity of food resources and water depths needed by water birds during their annual cycle.

"We anticipate that these new wetlands and the available food will be highly attractive to waterfowl and shorebirds," Trauba said.. An added benefit, Trauba said, is that the impoundments will also provide an important feeding and resting area for waterfowl because hunting will not be allowed.

"It's critical that waterfowl have places where they can rest and feed undisturbed during their fall migration," Trauba said. "They no longer have that opportunity like they once did."

As technology continues to improve, many more hunters are now able to access areas where ducks used to be able to escape hunting pressure. Also, the quality of wetlands and shallow lakes has diminished over the years and are not as attractive to waterfowl.

"Consequently, ducks tend not to stay around very long and they don't get the food or rest they need," Trauba said. "These impoundments will provide both and should keep them in the area longer. And because waterfowl do move around, they'll provide some additional hunting opportunities elsewhere in the area."

Water will be pumped into the impoundments, located within the boundaries of the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in Big Stone County, from Marsh Lake at the rate of 6,500 gallons per minute. The impoundment area had been row-cropped for the past 80 years but frequent flooding in the 1990s severely diminished the property's value as cropland.

"The state purchased the property in 2001 with financial support from Ducks Unlimited," Trauba said. "The project fits in perfectly with the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as well as the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan."

The project is also part of the DNR's effort to improve migration habitat, increase waterfowl harvest as well as hunter satisfaction.

Ducks Unlimited designed and engineered the project.
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