Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
Midwest Region

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Address:
Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
18965 County Hwy 82 S
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: 218-739-2291

Strategic Management Tools and Mapping Products:

Restorable Wetlands

farmed wetlandsrestored wetlands

Depressional wetlands were a dominant feature of the landscape of the prairies of Minnesota and Iowa at the time the area was first occupied by humans of European decent. However, the lure of fertile soils and a strong northern European work ethic converged in an unprecedented effort to drain the wet prairie and its associated wetlands. Today, in many watersheds, fewer than 10% of the original wetlands still exist. Although not all of the consequences of this intensive wetland drainage are understood, they are thought to include water quality degradation and increased flood frequency and intensity along mainstem rivers and major tributaries. Today, wetland restoration is increasingly favored as a means of providing multiple natural resource and socioeconomic benefits including flood abatement, water quality enhancement, and wildlife habitat restoration. These multiple benefits are most likely to accrue when restorations are conducted in the context of an integrated strategic restoration plan. An essential precursor to such a plan is spatial information about the distribution and extent of restorable wetlands.

MN restorable wetlands status map

Figure 1. The status of restorable wetlands mapping in Minnesota.

To date, the Restorable Wetlands Inventory (RWI) conducted by HAPET and a diverse set of partners has produced data on the restorable wetlands of over 16,500 mi² of the intensively drained portions of Minnesota (Fig. 1).

Sample restorable wetlands inventory map of Willmar, MN area

Figure 2. A sample of RWI digital data for Kandiyohi County near Willmar, Minnesota.

Delineated aerial photos are scanned and georectified to produce digital data for use in GIS-based strategic planning (Fig. 2).

Restorable wetlands data may be integrated with other data to strategically conserve wildlife, water quality and to reduce flood damage (Fig. 3).

Restorable wetlands inventory data for area of Otter Tail county, Minnesota

Figure 3. A close up view of RWI data for a 1 mi² area of Otter Tail, County, Minnesota. The blue lines  represent the path of water as it moves across the upland and through existing and drained wetlands into the headwaters of the Mustinka River which itself flows into the Minnesota River. Together, RWI data and these flow pathways which were mapped by the Minnesota DNR Watershed Delineation Program, make it possible to strategically restore wetlands to enhance water quality and reduce flooding.

Ducks Unlimited logoAn important partner in restoring wetland habitat for waterfowl is Ducks Unlimited.
Clicking on their logo here will take you to their website and downloadable restorable wetland files.

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Last updated: February 27, 2013