The Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) within the Valley City Wetland Management District are comprised of numerous wetlands of various types and sizes. Temporary and seasonal wetlands tend to be smaller, shallower and thaw quickly in the spring. They support myriads of aquatic insects, snails and other invertebrates that are a rich source of protein for waterfowl returning to the area to nest. They typically hold water for only a few days to a few weeks and are most vulnerable to drainage.
Deeper, more permanent wetlands tend to be larger and thaw later in the spring. These provide habitat for hens with broods later into the summer as well as molting areas for flightless birds. It is the combination of small, shallow wetlands and large, deeper wetlands that is so attractive to waterfowl in the Valley City District.
The most obvious beneficiary of wetlands is wildlife. Wetlands are absolutely essential to waterfowl production and are important habitat for other mirgatory birds. They not only provide food and shelter, but also nesting sites. Futhermore, wetlands also provide year-round habitat for many resident wildlife species.
However, the benefits of wetlands extend far beyond the wildlife habitat they provide. Wetlands act as "nature's sponges and filters" by attenuating flood waters, reducing erosion, removing sediments and pollutants, and recharging groundwater supplies. Wetlands also provide countless recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching, and photography. They also supply valuable livestock water and produce an abundance of forage.
Most areas of high density wetlands in the Valley City Wetland District have been drained to support agriculture. The Red River Valley physiographic region is the most productive farm land in the state and few wetlands remain. The low rolling terrain of the Drift Prairie has areas of wetlands but many of those remaining are located in crop land. Their value to waterfowl and other wildlife is much less than wetlands surrounded by grassland.
District staff work with a variety of programs and tools to preserve, protect, and restore wetlands. Private landowners, conservation organizations, as well as other governmental agencies are valuable partners in striving for a common goal: a healthy ecosystem in which wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining environmental integrity.
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