Wildlife and Habitat
The Chase Lake WMD and NWR are located in the Northern Great Plains region, which contains significant portions of the nation's wetland resources. Rolling grassy hills, rocky soils and steep topography limit most land use in the Missouri Coteau to pasture and hayland. These traditional land use practices have allowed for the continued existence of pre-settlement native prairie with abundant wetland and grassland resources. These resources provide critical nesting and brood rearing habitat for a large percentage of North America's waterfowl, as well as many other grassland nesting bird species.
The diverse habitat that exists within the WMD supports a variety of wildlife species. Chase Lake NWR is home to one of the largest American white pelican nesting colonies in North America, hosting as many as 30,000 breeding adults in recent years. Extensive wetland complexes, native grasslands, and established grasslands all contribute to a truly amazing spectacle of wildlife here in the Chase Lake WMD and NWR.
A variety of techniques are used to manage upland and wetland habitats on Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). These techniques vary depending on the specific goals and objectives desired for a particular habitat type. The three basic grassland habitat types are native grasslands, planted native grasslands, and planted dense nesting cover (DNC).
Prescribed burning and grazing are preferred treatments for native grasses. When timed properly, these techniques can improve vigor and modify species composition of warm and cool season native grasses. Haying and raking can also improve the vigor of native grasses and DNC. Haying and grazing activities are accomplished by issuing special use permits to private landowners.
Old stands of DNC are occasionally broken out and farmed for successive years and then seeded back to DNC or natives. Cooperative farming agreements are developed using private landowners as cooperators. Noxious weed management techniques include chemical application, mowing, sheep grazing, and biological controls such as flea beetles on leafy spurge.
Direct wetland management capabilities on WPAs are limited due to the inability to control or manipulate water levels.
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