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Case Study: Glenwood Area Wildlife

A sinkhole underneath an old water control structure resulted in this new one being built, a situation that is less likely to occur without a license fee increase.
A sinkhole underneath an old water control structure resulted in this new one being built, a situation that is less likely to occur without a license fee increase.

The last thing Assistant Glenwood Area Wildlife Manager Richard Olsen wants to do is focus on the trees rather than the forest.

Planning ahead and anticipating the needs of wildlife, habitat and outdoors users on the 2 million acres his work area encompasses pays more dividends than reacting to the moment. Unfortunately, Olsen doesn't see too many options down the road if legislators fail to approve a license fee increase.

"As more demands are placed upon fewer staff, many things will suffer as we become more reactionary to immediate problems and issues at the expense of effective season-long planning," says Olsen.

In some ways, Olsen and his staff are already at that point. They pride themselves on quality work but spend a higher percentage of time dealing with problems and less time developing habitat, working on shallow lakes projects and working with partners on a variety of projects.

There already are casualties. Annual planned prescribed burning undertakings are declining as the area scrambles to find the help it needs to safely accomplish even the most simple and routine burns. Additionally, important information about wildlife populations will be lacking as predator surveys, August roadside counts and prairie chicken monitoring are not completed.

"In my experience with the DNR and within the wildlife field, people who work for the DNR are passionate about their jobs and the wildlife and environmental resources they protect and manage – and it shows," says Olsen. "These folks are very dedicated to wildlife management, often spending countless volunteer hours to accomplish their work and their own money and time to continue learning."

As such, the area still tries to do what it can, regardless of the resources and available staff. But at some point, tasks will not get done. The specific duties that will fall by the wayside are often difficult to predict, but time-consuming or expensive projects likely will be the first to go.

Take for example a new sedan structure that needed to be replaced to aid in water management activities. If not for a huge sinkhole that formed and created an unsafe situation, the Glenwood area likely would not have gotten the funding to replace the structure. Staff now can manage water levels safely, both inside and outside the structure.

Olsen remains concerned, though, that if money and resources are not available, the area's ability to manage water could be significantly reduced. Even when funds are cobbled together to address a problem, the underlying issues may still remain.

"Other than empty chairs and slowly disappearing personnel, this is what you get," says Olsen. "Doing more with less can only take you so far for so long."



The bottom line?

Without a license fee increase, Glenwood area staff will have to focus even more on immediate problems at the expense of habitat development, shallow lakes and partnerships with other conservation partners.


What We Do: Highlights

Glenwood Area Wildlife

23070 N Lakeshore Drive
Glenwood, MN 56334
Glenwood wildlife work area map
Glenwood Fact SheetArea Fact Sheet This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

Download this printer-friendly fact sheet that provides convenient links and information.

The Minnesota DNR's Glenwood Wildlife Area includes more than 2 million acres of land and lakes in Pope, Douglas, Grant, Stevens and Traverse counties, providing excellent hunting and trapping opportunities in West-Central Minnesota for a wide array of species including deer, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, ruffed grouse, doves and furbearers. We manage wildlife habitat on state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs); provide technical guidance and advice for private lands wildlife habitat; and provide hunting and outdoor recreational opportunities on public lands that we administer.


  • Manage habitat and facilities on 110 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), covering nearly 18,000 acres in Pope, Douglas, Grant, Stevens and Traverse Counties to provide quality habitat for local and migratory wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities to the public.
  • Administer four Waterfowl Refuges, four State Duck Refuges, two State Game Refuges, and four Waterfowl Feeding and Resting Areas to provide undisturbed areas for waterfowl during the waterfowl hunting season.
  • Annual prescribed burns on 300-1000 acres on 5-10 WMAs to stimulate growth and productivity of native or restored grasslands and to help control woody cover encroachment into grasslands.
  • Annually restore, enhance and/or develop 150-500 acres of native grass stands on area WMAs to provide quality grassland habitat for nesting, security and winter cover.
  • Control noxious weeds on WMAs so they do not spread to adjacent lands.
  • Use haying as a weed management tool on 50-100 acres of WMAs annually.
  • Cooperate with livestock producers to graze 350-600 acres of WMA grasslands to improve its quality for nesting, security and winter wildlife cover.
  • In collaboration with partners, construct control structures on Ash Lake, Jennie Lake, Towner Lake, Lake Christina and Denton Slough and manage these shallow lakes by manipulating water levels to improve water quality and food availability for waterfowl.
  • Harvest native grass seed and select native forb and flower species for use in prairie restoration and enhancement projects on WMAs.
  • Develop, maintain and improve WMA parking lots, and properly maintain WMA boundaries with neighbors.
  • Provide technical guidance and assistance to farmers to solve or mitigate crop and stored forage depredation/damage. Wildlife cases include bear, elk, deer, Canada geese, raccoon, skunk and rodents.
  • Coordinate goose banding activities and pheasant, prairie chicken, deer and predator surveys on population trends, age structures and mortality and survival to gain better understanding of local wildlife population dynamics.
  • Provide area-wide fur registration service.
  • Provide annual hunting season recommendations (bag limits) for deer and turkey areas to maximize sustained harvest and robust populations.
  • Contribute to, and collect, data for several grassland management research projects that are evaluating a variety of grassland management tools (grazing, prescribe fire, fall biomass harvest).
  • Serve as member on two Project Teams for Bois de Sioux Watershed District (north Ottawa Impoundment, West Branch of 12 mile Creek).
  • Wildlife Lake Designation of Denton Slough.
  • Conduct four drawdowns in fall/winter of 2011 ? Ash Lake, Denton Slough, Towner Lake and Jennie Lake.
  • Completed redesign and rebuilding of water control structure on Sedan Pond WMA in 2011.