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Wetland restoration funded in part by Rush Lake Improvement Association. Photo by Jacob Hernandez/USFWS.

Wetland restoration funded in part by Rush Lake Improvement Association. Photo by Jacob Hernandez/USFWS.

Wildlife habitat restoration and water quality improvement:
A multifocal collaborative platform

The Rush Lake Improvement Association is a 50 year old non-profit organization focused on preserving and improving both East and West Rush Lakes. The Rush Lake watershed encompasses approximately 27 square miles in northwestern Chisago and southwestern Pine County. The lakes are located 5 miles west of Rush City, Minnesota in Nessel Township. Members of the organization are comprised of private landowners, businesses, campgrounds and resorts located within the Rush Lake watershed. Due to this area’s proximity to the Twin Cities, it has seen increased human activity, including; housing and agriculture development along with other land use changes. These land use changes have led to loss of habitat and water quality degradation.

The Rush Lake watershed, and others like it, provide an excellent opportunity for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to make positive local and landscape level multifocal impacts. Wetland restorations in the watershed provide quality breeding, nesting and foraging habitat for a variety of migratory waterfowl, as well as resident wetland dependent species. Furthermore, these restorations also provide increased water filtration benefits. The enhanced water quality improves local aquatic habitat in the lakes, subsequent streams and rivers. This type of collaborative restoration work allows for very efficiently spent taxpayer and lake association generated dollars.

The Partners Program and Rush Lake Improvement Association have partnered in the past on wetland restoration work. With a successful restoration project in the books, Partners Program Biologist Jacob Hernandez from the Minnesota Private Lands Office presented at Rush Lake Improvement Association’s annual meeting. Hernandez provided information on both what the Partners Program does and how the two organizations could continue to collaborate on restoration projects that mutually benefit both wildlife habitat and water quality within the watershed. Earlier this year one wetland restoration project was partially funded by the Rush Lake Improvement Association.

The presentation has proven to be successful as many of the attendees requested brochures and contact information to discuss potential restoration projects on their properties. Additionally, a motion by Rush Lake Improvement Association was passed to make a monetary donation with end of the year funds to be held in escrow for future wetland restoration projects within the watershed.

By Jacob Hernandez
Minnesota Private Lands Office

Last updated: December 5, 2017