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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Grazing Management Partnership Equals Success for Everyone

Region 3, September 7, 2012
Cattle Grazing at Brenner Lake WPA, Sunburg, MN
Cattle Grazing at Brenner Lake WPA, Sunburg, MN - Photo Credit: n/a
Downy Gentians on Rested Pasture
Downy Gentians on Rested Pasture - Photo Credit: n/a
Prairie Response to Spring Grazing on Brenner Lake WPA
Prairie Response to Spring Grazing on Brenner Lake WPA - Photo Credit: n/a

This grazing management photo set was developed so that folks would be able to see first hand some results from a cooperative grazing project. The grazing partnership has allowed us to manage a federally owned Waterfowl Production Area and rest a privately owned native pasture that is protected with a perpetual habitat easement. This images depict a cooperative grazing management project between the Morris and Litchfield Wetland Management Districts in west central Minnesota. The funding sources were a Minnesota Conservation Partners Legacy grant acquired by the Friends of Morris Wetland Management District, The Nature Conservancy's Prairie Recovery Project, the U.S, Fish and Willdife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and Working Lands Initiative, which is a public and private partnership to improve wildlife habitat in the prairie portion of Minnesota while still keeping that land "working" to provide income for the owner.


We removed invasive eastern red cedar trees from the habitat easement in the Morris District in 2011. We needed to complete that treatment with a burn to remove the last of the small cedars, so we needed to rest the pasture to build up fuel. In Fall 2011, the Brenner Lake Waterfowl Production Area in Litchfield's District was boundary fenced by a contractor, and in Spring 2012 the interior cross fences were installed by The Nature Conservancy and Service staff.

During 2012, the habitat easement was rested to build fuel for a burn. It had been continuous grazed for over 15 years but not overgrazed. The WPA was split into approximately 40 acre paddocks so that grazing intensity could be 1 animal unit per acre per month with 25 -35 cow / calf pairs. The rotation was built based on desired plant community effects as well as adequate water sources for the cows throughout the summer in this dry prairie landscape.

2012 has been a very dry year, with most of our summer months being 1 to 2 inches behind on rain. We built plenty of extra pasture into the grazing management system, and our desired plant community effects have been incredible.

Both sites have had great production of warm season grasses and forbs as a result of the grazing management or rest. See for yourself!

Contact Info: Stacy Salvevold, 320-589-4963, stacy_salvevold@fws.gov