SWAN LAKE - Tree and brush removal on the Middle Lake Tract of the Swan Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will help restore native grassland habitat to benefit wildlife, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.
"Over the years, we have had undesirable trees and woody cover encroach on much of this 80-acre parcel, deteriorating the quality of the native prairie habitat," said Joe Stangel, DNR area wildlife manager.
In the next month, a contractor will remove undesirable brush and trees on 74 acres of the parcel, located just north of Nicollet.
Follow-up plans include treatment of problem species, prescribed burning to invigorate plant growth and possibly some seeding of native prairie plants.
"We hope to regenerate a diverse and productive habitat area that benefits wildlife and wildlife-based recreation," Stangel said.
Upland grasslands are among the most endangered habitats in Minnesota. They provide critical nesting habitats for many species, including mallards, blue-winged teal, pheasants, meadowlarks and bobolinks. As woody cover increases, the number of species that use the habitat for nesting or cover decreases.
"This site is especially important to waterfowl," Stangel said. "Reducing the woody edges around the basins will improve waterfowl use for feeding, resting, pair bonding and brood rearing."
Funding for the project is provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The fund was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. One-third of the sales tax dollars goes into the fund. The money is used to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife as approved by the Minnesota Legislature.
Wildlife management areas are open to the public year-round and provide opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife watching activities.