The wetlands and surrounding grasslands of the American Midwest are places unlike any other. Here, waterfowl glide gracefully across the water, the earthy smell of wetland reeds and grasses drift through the air, and the clear calls of migrating birds echo overhead. Small wetlands surrounded by acres of grasslands once dotted the landscape. Today, some of these small areas are designated as Waterfowl Production Areas. Nearly 7,000 separate tracts – most fewer than 1000 acres -set aside by the federal government to restore and protect vital nesting and breeding wetland habitat for millions of waterfowl. Waterfowl Production Area are grouped into administrative units called Wetland Management Districts.
The importance of wetlands to waterfowl is obvious and well known by wildlife biologists. Equally essential, however, is the adjacent grassland vegetation near wetlands that serves as preferred nesting habitat for waterfowl and other ground nesting birds like pheasants and many grassland songbirds. The District boasts some of the highest densities of breeding waterfowl in Minnesota.
More than 293 species of birds have been observed, and about 170 species nest within the District. Remnant native grasslands in the western part of the District are good places to experience the tallgrass prairie community with its diverse assortment of plants and insects. These are also good places to see greater prairie chickens, marbled godwits, and short-eared owls.
Approximately 57 pairs of bald eagles and nearly a dozen ospreys nest in the District. This avian diversity is complemented by at least 40 species of mammals and 25 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Waterfowl production areas were created by an amendment to the Federal Duck Stamp Act in 1958. Scientists realized that these small pockets of habitat were vital to breeding waterfowl. This amendment gave the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service permission to purchase small wetlands. Your purchase of a Federal Duck Stamp provides funds to acquire waterfowl production areas and easements.
Fergus Falls Wetland Management District
18965 County Highway 82
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: (218) 739-2291
Fax: (218) 739-9534
Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals may reach the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District through Minnesota's State Relay System by dialing:
1-800-627-3529 (voice, TTY, ASCII)
The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center is part of the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, located on the Townsend Waterfowl Production Area in Otter Tail County.
Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
602 State Highway 210E
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Phone: (218) 998-4480
Fax: (218) 736-0941
Prairie Wetlands Learning Center Hours:
The hiking trails are open daily, 365 days per year, sunrise to sunset, including Federal holidays.
The Visitor Center is open 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. It may be open on some Saturdays for special events. It is closed on Federal holidays.