Wetlands act as the “kidneys of the landscape,” filtering runoff that flows into lakes, streams, rivers, and underground aquifers. They also provide critical nesting and feeding habitat to many species and are a distinct feature of the Minnesota landscape. Yet the area that they cover in the state has been cut in half since pre-settlement. Wetland loss is particularly severe in the western, prairie-pothole region, where over 90% of wetlands are gone.
The Minnesota Land Trust is working to combat wetland loss with its new and innovative Wetland Habitat Protection Plan. The program uses a market-based and cost-effective approach to acquire conservation easements from private landowners in the Prairie-Forest transition area in Central Minnesota. The project was made possible by grants from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the McKnight Foundation.
One of the first project complexes under the Wetland Protection Program has been completed around Otter Tail Lake and Little Crow Lake in Lida and Dora Townships. The properties, which have been in landowner, Carol Kratzke’s family for decades, include sensitive shoreline, aquatic ecosystems, prairie, and hardwood forests that provide important habitat to a variety of plant and animal species, especially amphibians and migratory songbirds.