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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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Windom Wetland Management District

The Windom Wetland Management District acquires and manages Waterfowl Production Areas, enforces wetland easements, and provides conservation assistance to landowners in 12 southwestern Minnesota counties (Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Freeborn, Jackson, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock and Watonwan). The landscape is dominated by intense, row-crop agriculture, which has led to the drainage of most wetlands and widespread water quality problems. Deteriorating drainage tile systems and the abundance of historic wetland basins provide unlimited opportunities for wetland restorations.

Heron Lake in Jackson County, is a 6,400-acre, shallow, prairie lake suffering from over-enrichment due to agricultural run-off; high populations of rough fish; and loss of aquatic vegetation; all symptoms typical to area lakes. Heron Lake is the focus of a multi-partner effort to restore the lake and its 472-square-mile watershed. The District is an active partner in this effort.

District staff work closely with private landowners to restore and protect degraded and critical habitat. Between 1990 and 2006, the District restored 690 wetlands, covering 8,433 acres on both public and private owned lands in the twelve counties it manages. During this same period, 1,991 acres of prairie remnants and native grasslands on 73 sites were restored or protected.

Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts can visit one of 65 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) encompassing nearly 14,000 acres for permitted recreational activities. Construction of a 3/4 mile walking trail was completed in 2006 and is located adjacent to the headquarters and interpretive center at Wolf Lake WPA. The facility provides many opportunities for environmental education and interpretation opportunities with local schools and the visiting public.

The Windom Wetland Management District also manages the first fee title tract of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Widllife Refuge. Touch the Sky Prairie is a nearly 800 acre unit of the Refuge dedicated to helping preserve native tallgrass prairie. Less than one-tenth of one percent of the original Tallgrass Prairie remains. Touch the Sky Prairie is located 4 miles north and 3 miles west of the city of Luverne in Rock County, Minnesota.

Getting There . . .
The District headquarters is located one mile east of Windom, Minnesota, on County Road 17. Windom lies in the scenic Des Moines River valley of southwestern Minnesota, on Highway 71 a short 18 miles north of interstate 90. Maps to all the waterfowl production areas are available for each county in the district.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Windom Wetland Management District manages over 65 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), primarily for waterfowl production. However, these units also benefit non-game wildlife species.

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The Windom Wetland Management District is located in the prairie pothole region of the upper Midwest. Prior to European settlement, the landscape was dotted with thousands of small wetlands called "potholes."

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Habitat management consists of enhancing the Waterfowl Production Areas to provide for nesting and migrating waterfowl. Maintaining diverse, healthy grasslands adjacent to wetland complexes interspersed with emergent vegetation is the main focus. This is accomplished by several management tools: wetland and grassland restoration, controlled burning, and pest plant control.

Previously drained areas and/or croplands are restored to wetlands and planted to native prairie grasses and wildflowers on the Waterfowl Production Areas and on private lands via the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Native prairie seed is harvested from local native prairies on both public and private lands and used to restore uplands. Prescribed fire is used aggressively as a tool to help restore and maintain prairie and keep non-native plants from overtaking the landscape.

Waterfowl populations are monitored on both refuge and private lands each spring by conducting "Four-square mile" breeding pair counts. Non-game species of grassland birds are also monitored for abundance and diversity.