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Detroit Lakes
Wetland Management District

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26624 N. Tower Road
Detroit Lakes, MN   56501 - 7959
E-mail: detroitlakes@fws.gov
Phone Number: 218-847-4431
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The Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District protects more than 50,000 acres of waterfowl nesting habitat.
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Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District

Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District is located in northwest Minnesota and includes the counties of Becker, Clay, Mahnomen, Norman, and Polk - an area of approximately 6,000 square miles. The district is divided into three general landscape areas, roughly equal in size. From west to east, these are: the Red River Valley floodplain, the glacial moraine/prairie pothole region, and the hardwood/coniferous forest.

The district currently manages over 42,000 acres of public land in 165 waterfowl production areas (WPAs). Additionally, district staff are responsible for more than 300 wetland and upland easements on private property, totaling more than 11,000 acres.

Land acquisition and management efforts are focused in the prairie pothole region of the district, with a goal of providing habitat for nesting waterfowl. District acquisition and restoration efforts, begun in the late 1950s, have preserved and restored remnants of the tallgrass prairie and prairie wetlands. Approximately 3,200 acres of the district's total acreage are true native prairie remnants.

The primary economic base of the area is agriculture, with a strong tourism industry based on area lakes on the west side of the district. Intensive agriculture and drainage over the past 100 years has extensively altered the look and function of the historic landscape. In today's landscape, row crops dominate.

A variety of acquisition efforts, including the Small Wetlands Acquisition Program, which permits the Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase lands for waterfowl production using money generated from the sale of "Duck Stamps," have preserved important remnants of the tallgrass prairie and prairie wetland ecosystems.

Getting There . . .
To reach the district headquarters from the junction of U.S. Highways 10 and 59 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, proceed north two miles on Hwy. 59 to Tower Road (County Road 139). Turn east on Tower Road and travel approximately one mile. The office is on the north side of the road.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The district's mix of grasslands, wetlands, and forests provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife.

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Scanty evidence indicates that the Teton and Yankton tribes, culturally related to the eastern Dakota tribe, lived on the Minnesota prairies, including the five counties of the Detroit Lakes District. However, very little is known about these people prior to their displacement from Minnesota in the 19th century.

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Management Activities
The purpose of the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District is to acquire habitat for waterfowl production. Once a parcel of land is purchased, it is seeded with native prairie plants, and any drained wetlands are restored. Generally, home sites, fences, rock piles, tree groves, and other undesirable elements of the habitat are removed.

During the first few years of the restoration effort, mechanical weed control is generally necessary. Once a native stand of vegetation becomes established, periodic controlled burns are conducted in order to maintain the vigor of the vegetation and discourage the growth of woody species (trees). Other management priorities include dealing with invasive weed species, such as leafy spurge and purple loosestrife, using biological control agents.