Waterfowl Production Areas


Waterfowl Production Areas are properties that have been purchased with money from the sale of Duck Stamps. Established to protect and restore waterfowl habitat, these small but important parts of the National Wildlife Refuge System play a critical role providing much needed habitat for wildlife. Nearly 95 percent of the Waterfowl Production Areas in the United States are located in the prairie pothole region.

The Waterfowl Production Areas with in the Long Lake Wetland Management District included: Rath - 90 acres; Nelson - 21 acres; and Bechold - 16 acres, which were formerly cropped fields.

Native grasslands dominate the habitat acreage on Waterfowl Production Areas, occupying approximately 35 percent of the overall acreage. Staff manage this habitat type with prescribed burning, grazing, and haying.

Planted grasslands occupy 26 percent of the total Waterfowl Production Area acreage. Personnel manage these areas with haying, burning, grazing, farming and re-seeding. Annually, approximately 300 acres of planted grasses are targeted for re-establishment of mixed-grass natives, until all planted has been converted. These seedings will be on both Waterfowl Production Area’s and refuges in the Long Lake Wetland Management District.

Approximately 4 percent of the Waterfowl Production Area acreage is classified as cropland in any given year. In reality, cropland rotates in and out of cover or is established for a somewhat longer period to provide consistent winter food for resident wildlife on larger areas. Except for a small amount, farming on the Waterfowl Production Areas, is done by cooperators. General objective is to re-establish native grass on prior farmed and tamegrass which will reduce and eventually eliminate cropland fields on Waterfowl Production Areas.

Forest or woodland occupies less than 1 percent of the total Waterfowl Production Area acreage. Most woodlands exist as shelterbelts or tree rows that were planted prior to FWS purchase or occur as individual trees volunteering along wetland margins or in moist low areas. Excluding riparian areas where historically trees occupied the corridors along rivers and streams trees land management practices discourage development of trees on the prairie landscape. Recent policies and ecosystem management philosophies provide direction to manage, protect, and restore the natural prairie landscape which excludes development of tree plantings and invasion of competitive nonnative trees on the prairie landscape.

Why it’s Important

The North Dakota Natural Resource Ecologist identified a site on Kleppe/Lang Waterfowl Production Area as habitat for Loesel's twayblade orchid (Liparis loeselii). The Loesel’s twayblade orchid is listed as “Imperiled” in North Dakota by the the North Dakota Natural Heritage Program. This area is one of four ND sites and will be protected.

White-tailed deer are abundant and occupy nearly all of the Waterfowl Production Area units distributed across the three county District. The nesting cover provided as seeded DNC and native undisturbed grasslands for waterfowl and upland nesting birds also provides excellent habitat for white-tailed deer. Habitat enhancement through edge “affect” is provided by surrounding private lands managed for annual production of crops and livestock and by occasional habitat management treatments including prescribed burning, grazing, and haying.

The Missouri River breaks characteristic of the west edge of the Wetland Management District in Burleigh and Emmons Counties provides habitat for small herds of mule deer. Occasionally, pronghorn are observed in the western most reaches of the Wetland Management District along the breaks and mixed grass prairie areas adjacent to the Missouri River.