Nov. 5—ST. PAUL — Pheasants Forever has added four new projects totaling 437 acres in Minnesota as part of its Build a Wildlife Area program, the conservation group announced Monday, Oct. 30.
The properties in Mahnomen, McLeod, Otter Tail and Swift counties strengthen habitat corridors in the upland bird range by adding critical public lands acreage to existing Waterfowl Production Areas, Pheasants Forever said.
"Whenever we can bolster existing habitat complexes paired with public access, meaningful outcomes are produced for wildlife, hunters, sustainability measures and local economies," Jared Wiklund, director of communications for Pheasants Forever, said in a statement. "We're thankful to the numerous partners, chapters and donors who continue to help the organization deliver our mission pillars of public access and habitat at an extremely high level, including these wonderful projects."
Pheasants Forever's Build a Wildlife Area program has permanently protected more than 225,000 acres of habitat in 16 states through a partner-driven matching gift program. Through local, state and federal grants and individual private donations, Build A Wildlife Area designates funds directly toward land acquisition projects to create public access, conserve critical habitat for wildlife and preserve outdoor heritage traditions.
Here's a look at the four new additions.
Located in Mahnomen County northeast of Moorhead, this property surrounds the 80-acre Haggman WPA. Across the road to the north is a 360-acre Wetland Reserve Easement, which is partially overlaid on a 1,900-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wetland easement. To the southeast of the property is the Santwire Wildlife Management Area, which totals over 500 acres. Within a two-mile radius, there are numerous wetlands protected under USFWS and Wetland Reserve Easements, as well as five other WPAs — making the addition a major connecting parcel to many protected acres of prairie wetland habitat.
This project was made possible by the following partners: Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society and the Pine to Prairie Chapter of Pheasants Forever.
This 79-acre WPA addition is located in Otter Tail County, between Brainerd and Fargo. It rounds out an existing 80-acre WPA to 160 total acres and is part of a habitat corridor with thousands of acres of contiguous conservation lands stretching unbroken to the north. Immediately adjacent is Coyour Memorial WMA.
The parcel is within the Otter Tail Prairie SNA strategic focus area of the statewide Prairie Plan and is located on the Glacial Lake Agassiz beach ridges that run north and south through the far western portion of Minnesota. The property has supported prairie chicken leks in the past and will improve habitat connectivity for the species.
The Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Otter Tail County Chapter of Pheasants Forever are project partners.
This acquisition adds 146 acres to Phasianus WPA in McLeod County, which already totals over 500 acres. Due west of the Twin Cities, McLeod County is a popular destination for Minnesota hunters, making the parcel an ideal place to expand public access in the state. The property is estimated to support 61 to 80 breeding duck pairs per square mile and is well-suited for future habitat improvements. The complex will serve as a nesting, brooding and winter cover area for the resident ringneck population.
The project was made possible by the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the McLeod County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.
Located in Swift County, this parcel is adjacent to Lubenow WPA and will add to an extensive complex of protected wetlands. The area currently supports 21 to 30 pairs of waterfowl per square mile, but has historically supported more than 100. The project will also add much-needed grassland nesting cover to Lubenow WPA that will benefit upland birds and waterfowl alike.
The Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Swift County Chapter of Pheasants Forever and the Carpenters for Conservation Chapter of Pheasants Forever are project partners.