U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Wetland Management District

canvasback pair on water
49663 County Road 17
Windom, MN   56101
E-mail: windomwmd@fws.gov
Phone Number: 507-831-2220
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The Fish and Wildlife Service is working to improve habitat for waterfowl such as canvasbacks.
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These potholes were surrounded by tallgrass prairie and provided the perfect habitat for migrating and nesting waterfowl, earning the area the title "duck factory" of the Midwest.

Settlement started in the mid-1850s and quickly converted much of the native prairies and wetlands into fields of wheat, corn and soybeans. Today, over 85% of the wetlands and over 99% of the tallgrass prairie is gone. This reduction in habitat has caused tremendous declines in waterfowl and grassland bird populations. Many species were forced out of southern Minnesota altogether, including the bison, elk, grizzly bear, and prairie chicken.

Wetland Management Districts were established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1950s to offset the decline in waterfowl populations. Several WPAs were established in the southern part of Minnesota. In 1990, the Windom Wetland Management District was established to manage these WPAs and increase the number of WPAs in the area.

The historic Heron Lake is in the Windom Wetland Management District. This lake was once known as the "Chesapeake Bay of the Midwest" because hundreds of thousands of canvasback and redhead ducks used the lake as a migration stop. Heron Lake has been highly degraded due to agricultural drainage and city pollution. Restoration efforts are being made to create an ecological balance and restore this lake to its historic stature. The Windom District works with many partners to protect the lake and its watershed.

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