What We Do
The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a district is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the district.
Partnerships are crucial to our success. We work with local governments, other state and national agencies and partners to protect wildlife and the habitat they depend on.
We manage water levels on wetlands to provide a mosaic of habitat conditions for waterfowl, waterbirds and other wildlife.
Efforts to controlthrough integrated pest management including selective cutting, prescribed burning, mowing, grazing and herbicide treatment are conducted annually to maintain native habitats.
We protect and restore important remnant prairies and savannas by removing non-desirable woody vegetation and promote diversity of native grassland habitat through prescribed fire. As development encroaches on rural areas, we convert former agricultural fields to diverse native prairie using local seed sources.
Management and Conservation
Wetland management districts use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some districts use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit. At Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District, our conservation toolbox includes prescribed fire, water level manipulations, mowing/grazing, trapping and habitat restoration.
We manage approximately 2,500 acres of wetlands, including temporary, seasonal and permanent wetlands. Many restored wetlands have been constructed with various types of water control structures, which allow biologists to manage water levels. By raising and lowering water levels, biologists can control invasive or exotic species and help provide adequate food and habitat at the right time for migrating and nesting waterfowl and other associated species.
District lands include approximately 6,300 upland acres, consisting primarily of prairie with limited amounts of forested upland. Through prescribed burning, mowing and supplemental plantings, we provide and maintain habitat needed for grassland species. Grasslands evolved with the presence of disturbance from bison and natural fires. Through our management activities, we are able to provide the disturbance that is necessary for healthy grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them.
When new tracts of land are acquired, we are typically starting with bare agricultural fields. This gives us the opportunity to create or reestablish wetland basins and plant communities similar to that of pre-settlement conditions. Prairie restoration typically is complete after three years when native plant communities have become established.
Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on wetland management districts. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals.
The law enforcement team at Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District help visitors enjoy the district and understand and obey wildlife protection laws. District law enforcement officers work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal and state hunting regulations that protect wildlife from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities. Officers also play a role in the successful management of district lands and maintaining high quality visitor experiences.
Questions regarding law enforcement or violations on the district should be directed to a federal wildlife officer at 952-858-0711. General questions about hunting, fishing or other regulations can be directed to the visitor center at 952-361-4500, or by email at MinnesotaValley@fws.gov.