National Wildlife Refuge System

Waterfowl Production Areas:
Perpetual Prairie Potholes

WPA sign
Waterfowl Production Area sign
Credit: USFWS

Looking for places to hunt, bird watch, photograph wildlife, see rare native prairie plants or just enjoy the outdoors? Well, when you buy a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (a.k.a. "Duck Stamp") 98 percent of your $15 purchase goes toward ensuring that all Americans can do just that.

Your Federal Duck Stamp dollars go toward creating waterfowl production areas, often called WPAs. These WPAs are either acquired as public land, or protected through perpetual easement, as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System.

All WPAs provide habitat for a vast variety of waterfowl, shorebirds, grassland birds, plants, insects and wildlife. They also help reduce erosion, clean and protect ground water and reduce flooding. WPAs owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provide ample opportunities for public access and wildlife-dependent recreation such as hunting, wildlife watching and photography.

Prairie Roots Extend Deep

The green dots on this map indicate the recovery of a banded mallard duck that was produced in either Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota. The Prairie Pothole Region of the United States produces 50% of all U.S. raised ducks.

map of duck band recovery
Map of duck band recovery

Chances are the migratory bird you see near your home depends on the Prairie Pothole Region for some aspect of its life cycle.

Buying a Federal Duck Stamp will help ensure your children have the opportunity to see the same migratory birds you enjoy today.

Featured WPAs

Spellman Lake WPA,
Yellow Medicine County, Minn.

Big Slough WPA,
Murray County, Minn.

Fact sheet on waterfowl production areas

A history of the Fergus Falls (MN) Wetland Management District by former Manager Grady Mann (1.5 MB PDF)

Video interview with Grady and Lois Mann

Last updated: November 7, 2012