St. Paul, Minn. – June 22, 2016 – Pheasants Forever was recently awarded ten North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) small grantsto conserve wetlands and associated grasslands in Minnesota and Iowa. Pheasants Forever and its partners will employ this round of NAWCA funding to restore, enhance, or protect habitat on 4,536 acres vital to upland birds and waterfowl, with all acquired acres open to public hunting and recreation.
“NAWCA grants bring vital wildlife habitat enhancement dollars to the Prairie Pothole Region to implement wetlands and grasslands in partnership with private landowners and public land managers,” stated Matt Holland, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s director of grant development. “More conservation gets done when partners at the state and local levels are working efficiently to match NAWCA funding dollar-for-dollar. In this case, NAWCA funds are helping to deliver objectives of both the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan and the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture Implementation Plan.”
2016 NAWCA Small Grant Projects
Project: Arlington WMA Addition
Location: Sibley County, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $300,000/ Acres: 75 acres protected
Building upon current conservation work being completed by federal, state, and private organizations in the area, the Arlington Wildlife Management Area (WMA) acquisition permanently protects 75 acres near existing Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA), Wildlife Management Areas, and perpetual private land conservation easements. More specifically, the project site consists of 21 acres of existing pothole wetlands, approximately 16 acres of restorable palustrine emergent wetlands, and 38 acres of upland habitat.
Project: Big Stone County Habitat Enhancement
Location: Big Stone County, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $101,015/ Acres: 634 acres enhanced
Pheasants Forever and partners of the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan have outlined clear goals to accelerate the protection, restoration and enhancement of grasslands and wetlands in an effort to establish diverse, high-quality habitat suitable to grassland nesting birds. This grant enhances the Lac qui Parle WMA, Clawson WMA and Robinhood WPA, as well as two private land sites, by removing undesirable invasive trees from grassland nesting cover.
Project: Carlos Avery Wetlands
Location: Anoka County, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $876,000/ Acres: 634 acres enhanced
The purpose of this project is to build upon and improve current holdings in the Minnesota Wildlife Management Area System, specifically the Carlos Avery WMA in Anoka County, Minn. The purchase of 211.98 acres adjacent to the 24,000-acre Carlos Avery WMA complex further protects existing wetlands and habitat for breeding waterfowl. NAWCA funds will enhance 634 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands by improving or replacing ailing dikes and water control structures on the existing Carlos Avery WMA.
Project: Iowa Prairie Potholes Grassland Enhancement III
Location: Cerro Gordo, Hancock, Winnebago, Worth & Wright Counties, Iowa
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $75,000 / Acres: 1,431.5 enhanced
The purpose of this grant request is to accelerate the enhancement of native, local ecotype tallgrass prairie on state-owned Wildlife Management Areas within the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa. The goal of this project is to assist in the enhancement of 1,000 acres of tallgrass prairie and create 431.5 new acres of tallgrass prairie nesting cover. By enhancing large blocks of nesting cover in the Prairie Pothole Region, ecological function is restored to the landscape and all grassland bird species benefit from quality nesting cover.
Project: MN Valley Wetlands
Location: Carver & Sibley Counties, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $80,000 / Acres: 105.7 protected or enhanced
The Tiger Marsh WMA acquisition permanently protects 15.17 acres directly adjacent to 575-acre Tiger Lake located in Carver County, Minn. The project site consists of 5.8 acres of existing wetlands and cropped acres that will be restored to grasslands (not through this proposal). Grant funds will also enhance an additional 90 acres on the Dehning Waterfowl Production Area in Sibley County by removing volunteer woody vegetation and diversity seeding into smooth brome. Woody encroachment degrades grasslands over time by introducing vertical structure and predator habitat into grassland nesting areas.
Project: MN Valley WPAs
Location: Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Rice, Sibley, Steele & Waseca Counties, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $520,000 / Acres: 90 protected
The purpose of this project is to build upon the Erin Prairie Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) by purchasing 80 acres of wetlands and associated grasslands adjoining the existing habitat complex. The acquisition of this tract protects 10.1 acres of palustrine emergent wetland. Grant funds will be used to help secure an addition to a WPA in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District.
Project: Mud Lake WPA III
Location: Sibley County, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $672,500 / Acres: 128.9 protected
The purpose of this project is to build upon the Mud Lake WPA by purchasing 128.9 acres of wetlands and associated grasslands adjoining the existing lake and public area. Mud Lake WPA lies within the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District focal area and has been a focus for recent acquisition and restoration activity. The acquisition of this tract protects 38.49 acres of palustrine emergent wetland and 6.46 acres of palustrine scrub-shrub wetlands.
Project: Prairie Coteau Grassland Enhancement
Location: Lyon, Murray & Pipestone Counties, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $89,218 / Acres: 700 enhanced
The goal of this project is to protect, restore and enhance grassland nesting habitat – including the 5-mile Corner Waterfowl Production Area addition (4.6 acres) – and 372 acres of private lands permanently protected by conservation easements and located within theMinnesota Prairie Conservation Plan priority area.
Project: Prairie Coteau Wetland & Nesting Cover Enhancement
Location: Pipestone, Murray, Nobles, Jackson, Lac qui Parle & Swift Counties, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $87,482 / Acres: 697 enhanced
The objective of this proposal is to enhance wetlands and associated upland areas on both public and private lands that are permanently protected. This proposal also includes the enhancement of two water control structures and the removal of existing/encroaching woody vegetation to improve waterfowl production in Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan priority areas. Grant and match funds will enhance a total of 697 acres of permanently protected wetland and associated upland habitat.
Project: Rich Valley WMA Addition
Location: McLeod County, Minnesota
Grant: $75,000 / Matching funds: $139,500/ Acres: 40 protected
The purpose of this project is to build upon the Rich Valley Wildlife Management Area by purchasing 40 acres of wetlands and associated grasslands adjoining this 196-acre unit. The subject tract is currently enrolled into USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and has 32.2 acres of upland nesting cover and 7.8 acres of palustrine emergent wetland. The goal is to protect this tract from conversion, which has been commonplace with CRP in this part of the PPJV. With upland nesting cover for breeding waterfowl, pheasants and grassland birds being a limiting factor in this geography, protecting this tract from grassland conversion is of the utmost importance. When the current CRP contract expires, Pheasants Forever and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists will upgrade the parcel with high-diversity enhancements to provide forage, bare ground, and a variety of flowering plants for quality pollinator habitat.