Case Study: Roseau River WMA
|Checking a water control structure in the Roseau River area.
Roseau River Area Wildlife Supervisor Randy Prachar has his hands full when it comes to land management in northwestern Minnesota.
Prachar is presently supervising both Roseau River and Thief Lake wildlife areas since the Roseau River Area Supervisor retired and the position has not been filled due to budget constraints. Combined, these areas encompass close to 660,000 acres of public and private lands and waters.
And although he takes his added responsibilities in stride, with budgets dwindling, Prachar is left with a bad case of heartburn trying to decide what gets done and what gets put on the back burner or eliminated completely.
For example, without addressing the funding situation soon, fewer food plot acres will be planted. This will reduce quality of habitat for a number of species of wildlife such as deer and reduce hunting opportunities on the WMAs.
"Food plots are major centers of activity for hunters," Prachar says. "They seek them out, and their hunting success is affected by the presence or absence of such food plots and by the quality of them."
Additionally, fewer small, shallow wetland developments will take place without the funds to maintain water control structures. These wetlands are critical to providing the foods necessary for attracting nesting waterfowl. Waterfowl production lags in certain areas on these WMAs because good-quality ephemeral wetlands are in short supply.
"All of our projects and activities are extremely valuable to wildlife," says Prachar. "I can't imagine looking down the road soon and having to choose what not to do."
The bottom line?
The ability to maintain and create food plots that have a direct impact on hunter success and developmentment of small, shallow water wetlands will have to be curtailed.
What We Do: Highlights
The Minnesota DNR's Roseau River Wildlife Area includes a 258,000-acre base of public and private lands and waters in Roseau County, providing excellent hunting and trapping opportunities in northwestern Minnesota for a wide array of species, including deer, black bear, ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse, woodcock, waterfowl, sandhill cranes and furbearers.
- Manage habitat and facilities on five Wildlife Management Areas, covering 83,000 acres, in northwestern Roseau County.
- In an average year, conduct controlled burns on 5,000-10,000 acres of grasslands and brushlands to improve nesting cover for birds and create browse for deer and moose.
- In an average year, manage 2-4 mechanical brush treatment projects on 500-1,500 acres to set back succession in brushlands for sharp-tailed grouse and other brushland-dependent species.
- Annually plan and administer approximately 450 acres of timber stand improvements on WMAs to maintain a diversity of forest age classes for ruffed grouse, woodcock, deer and snowshoe hares.
- Farm 300+ acres of WMA food plots for food for various species and to provide hunting opportunities.
- In collaboration with the Roseau River Watershed District, provide technical guidance and management on four projects to provide flood control as well as benefits to wetland wildlife.
- Maintain 10 large water control structures on RRWMA pools and monitor and maintain seven moist soils cells and four large pools covering 11,800 acres to afford breeding, nesting, brood rearing and migration habitat for waterfowl.
- Monitor results of management activities associated with area wetlands.
- Prepare and update management guidance documents for area-wide WMAs and assist private landowners with habitat management advice for their properties.
- Plan for six shallow wetland habitat developments encompassing approximately 7,620 acres that would provide additional migratory stopover habitat for waterfowl.
- Administer seven cooperative farming agreements on 2,000 acres to maintain open grasslands and to provide food for various wildlife species.
- Assist in Roseau County, Roseau River Watershed District and USDA conservation program planning efforts.
- Exchange and acquire key parcels of land such that essential habitat and flood control projects may progress.
- In 2011, participated in two land exchanges with Roseau County as part of the Roseau County Land Asset pilot program.
- Develop, maintain or improve 80 user facilities (parking lots, gates, trails, etc.), maintain 33 miles of access road and maintain 40 miles of boundary on WMAs in northwestern Roseau County to allow for public use of WMAs.
- Provide outreach and educational services via attendance at the Roseau County Fair, opening of the RRWMA dike system for wildlife viewing in late summer, information at kiosks for WMA users and programs for school children and community groups.
- Annually review approximately five local land-use, public waters, utility and transportation projects to minimize impacts on wildlife habitats.
- Provide technical advice and materials in response to 5-15 wildlife depredation complaints on private lands annually to improve tolerance for selected species.
- Maintain eight bait sites for depredating waterfowl to reduce damage to agricultural crops.
- Coordinate and administer dove and goose banding activities and waterfowl, woodcock, grouse and predator surveys throughout work area so that population levels of these species are known.
- Annually perform registration services for black bear and deer hunts, provide area-wide fur registration service and conduct waterfowl bag checks at 20 sites throughout the work area to monitor harvest of these species.
- Annual hunting season management for two deer permit areas and one bear permit area is conducted to facilitate population level management of these species.
- Maintain facilities for, and conduct, a controlled hunt for Canada geese and a youth hunt for waterfowl.
- Maintain two blinds and one elevated scaffold for hunting opportunities for the disabled.