Habitat preservation projects

Easement and management areas

Northwest Minnesota

Shelly Island Wildlife Management Area as seen from the air. 1. Shelley Island Wildlife Management Area
107 acres in Becker County valued at $ 100,000

Shelley Island was preserved by a cooperative effort between the Minnesota Wildlife Heritage Foundation, the DNR, and the island owner, Mrs. Shelley Long. In addition to its wildlife value, the island has an old pioneer log cabin, and it is a native American Indian burial site.

This large island in Cotton Lake with its unique and pristine beauty provides an excellent habitat for a wide variety of songbirds, gulls, loons, bald eagles, terns, and a great blue heron colony. Big game animals are not present. However, an abundant number of smaller species such as mink, beaver, and muskrat are common furbearers.

The island is host to various plants including mosses, ferns, grasses, and forbs, sedges, trees, shrubs, vines, and an exceptional stand of canada yew. More than 100 species were noted on the first tour of the island. Shelley Island is being preserved in its natural state for enjoyment, study, and historical values.

2. Sugarbush Lake Wildlife Management Area
17.8 acres in Becker County valued at $ 18,500

Ducklings on a log in the Big Sugarbush Lake Wildlife Management Area. This beautiful undeveloped peninsula was donated by 18 shoreland owners on Big Sugarbush Lake. The 17.8 acre peninsula is located on a lake with heavy shoreline development. This WMA now provides 14,520 feet of undeveloped shoreline habitat including willows, and hardstem bullrush. This area is valuable to numerous songbirds such as the yellow warbler and song sparrow. Loons utilize the shoreland for nesting, while wood ducks, hairy woodpeckers, and cavity nesters make use of the many snag trees on the upland portion. Ospreys and eagles make use of the pines for roosting and nesting areas.

3. Carmen Borgerding Wildlife Management Area
24.1 acres in Beltrami County valued at $ 33,000

This 24.1 acre island is an unique habitat parcel located in 2742 acre Blackduck Lake in Beltrami County. The island is wooded and provides habitats for a variety of birds. Song sparrows, hairy woodpeckers, chickadees, tree swallows, and yellow warblers are all residents.

This undeveloped island features a nesting pair of bald eagles, and red-necked grebes nest in the bullrush surrounding the island. In previous years a cormorant colony was established and pelicans have been reported to nest in the area.

This area is named in honor of Carmen Borgerding, a pioneer in Minnesota's environmental education efforts.

4. Dugdale Wildlife Management Area
160 acres in Polk County valued at $ 31,000

This 160-acre parcel is an addition to the existing Dugdale WMA in Polk county. This parcel was considered one of the last tracts of natural prairie left in Polk county. Prairies once covered the western portion of northwest Minnesota and have been largely converted to croplands making this parcel a valuable addition to the Dugdale WMA. The prairie grassland is valuable to sandhill cranes, prairie chickens and waterfowl.

White pelicans.

5. Angle Island Wildlife Management Area
5 acres in Lake of the Woods County valued at $ 11,000

Techout Island is a 5-acre rock island located on Lake of the Woods, the 45th largest lake in the world. This small island provides critical habitat and nesting sites for the common tern a threatened species, and white pelicans. Techout Island is considered one of the few nesting sites left in Minnesota for common terns. Waterbirds including ring-billed gulls and herring gulls are found on this rocky island. Because of the fragile nature of the habitat and the importance of leaving the threatened species undisturbed, Techout Island is a wildlife sanctuary that is posted to reduce human disturbance during their critical nesting period.

6. Big Turtle Lake Aquatic Management Area
27 acres in Beltrami County valued at $ 108,900

The shoreline of this undeveloped island in Big Turtle Lake offers a good variety of habitats for many fish species. The western shoreline has excellent walleye spawning habitat. The Undeveloped shoreline around the entire island provides wood cover and shade for protection of young fish, while the extensive bulrush stands surround the island serve as important habitat to nearly all fish species in Turtle Lake. The shallow water area between the island and the mainland has a diverse plant community that is especially beneficial to largemouth bass and sunfish. This area is valuable to numerous songbirds such as the yellow warbler and song sparrow. The shoreland provides nesting for loons, and many waterfowl species. The upland areas of the island provide habitat for songbirds, amphibians and other wildlife.

Eagle sitting atop a white pine.

7. Shell Lake Aquatic Management Area
31 acres in Becker County valued at $ 23,300

This undisturbed riparian plot is a wildlife haven containing mostly wetland, with trees including tamarack, black ash and aspen. Species found here include a nesting pair of bald eagles, wood ducks, yellow warblers, kingfishers, muskrats, beaver, red-winged blackbirds, common loons, red-necked grebes, painted turtles, garter snakes, and blue-spotted salamanders.

The undisturbed shallow water shore line is a valuable aquatic habitat for fish, frogs, and invertebrates. The primary goal of this project is to protect this shoreline in its natural state for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources.

Northeast Minnesota

Bald eagle.

8. Trout Lake Eagle Wildlife Management Area
38 acres in Itasca County valued at $ 40,000

Two important bald eagle nesting sites in Itasca County are now part of the Trout Lake Eagle Wildlife Management Area. Bald eagles had nested on Trout Lake since at least 1948, which makes it one of the longest known eagle-nesting sites in Minnesota.

Two parcels of undeveloped land that were to be subdivided into lakeshore lots were purchased by a joint effort of the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) and The Nature Conservancy.

The long term protection of bald eagles on Trout Lake has been assured by the preservation of these two parcels of land that contain three eagle nests and several potential white pine nesting trees.

9. Bowstring Deer Yard Wildlife Management Area
160 acres in Itasca County valued at $ 30,000

This 160 acres was donated by the Egg Lake Conservation Club in Itasca County, and is now included in the Bowstring Deer Yard Wildlife Management Area. This donation helps insure future opportunities to manage forest -wildlife habitat for forest songbirds and it is also an important deer winter concentration area.

10. Sugar Lake Conservation Easement
78.4 acres in Itasca County valued at $ 117,200

Great blue heron wading in a wetland. This 78-acre tract has more than 1 mile of natural wooded shoreline, and it was the last large block of undeveloped land remaining on Sugar Lake. The shoreline and adjoining waters are critical fish and wildlife habitat. The shallow waters are important for fish feeding and spawning, and make a significant contribution to the fishery resource of Sugar Lake. The water and shoreline are also used by bald eagles, loons, herons, ducks, terns, mink, beaver, otters, and numerous other birds and mammals.

By protecting this privately owned shoreland with a perpetual conservation easement, it will always remain in a natural condition. The owners have saved a valuable habitat. This habitat will continue to produce fish and wildlife to the maximum extent possible. This production and protection will extend indefinitely into the future. Sisters Jeanne Rice and Mary Boltuck gave up 90 percent of the value of their land in one of the first "forever wild" conservation easements in Minnesota. The conservation easement is a legal agreement by which the landowner voluntarily restricts or limits the type and amount of development that may take place on their property. These restrictions legally bind present and future owners of the property.

the scarlet tanager is a reddish bird with darkly colored wings

11. Bass Brook Wildlife Management Area
313.45 acres in Itasca County valued at $ 167,000

This area has rich and diverse wildlife use. The shoreline has extensive beds of wild rice and is heavily used by waterfowl and furbearers. This particular site is noted for the Yellow-throated Vireo (at the northern limit of its range), the declining Scarlet Tanager, Virginia and Sora rails, and nesting Great Blue Herons. It is possibly the best place for viewing spring and fall song bird migrations in Itasca County. The opportunity to see mink, otters, beavers and muskrats is excellent along the Mississippi River's edge. It is a great place to observe reptiles and amphibians such as blue spotted salamanders, painted, snapping and the eastern spiny soft shell turtles. The softshell turtle is also at the northern limit of its range here.

Management of the area is primarily centered around nongame wildlife. Also, duck nesting boxes have been installed along the river, and timber is managed on an ecological rotation that provide wildlife benefits. Management has been designed to preserve the unique wildness of the area.

12. Balsam-Deer Islands Wildlife Management Area
23.6 acres in Itasca County valued at $ 207,000

Deer Island in Deer Lake is located 9 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. Deer Lakes is a 3,691 acre clear water lake, with the majority of the shoreline developed. Balsam Island contains old growth white cedar and has had an active bald eagle's nest for the past 6 years. This undeveloped island had potential to be developed for lake home sites.

The Deer Lake Association contributed $100,000 that was matched from the sale of the Critical Habitat Conservation license plates. This was the second project funded with the conservation plate monies. The long term protection of bald eagles on Bear Island has been assured by the preservation of this island that contains an active bald eagle's nest.


13. Interstate Island Wildlife Management Area
7 acres in St. Louis County valued at $ 7,000

Interstate Island Wildlife Management Area is approximately 8 acres in size. The island was created from dredged material deposition in the 1930's. Most of the area had 3 to 5 inches of topsoil that accumulated over the years.

Clearing the existing vegetation and returning the island to a sand dune condition has created valuable nesting habitat for colonial water birds including the threatened common tern. The tern colony is managed to protect from competition by the abundant ring-billed gulls which also nest on the island.

14. Hearding Island Wildlife Management Area
40 acres in St. Louis County valued at $ 40,000

Hearding Island was created in 1934-35 through the deposit of sandy material dredged from the harbor bottom in the Duluth - Superior Harbor. The island was designated a wildlife management area in 1978, and a program to develop a portion of the site as common tern and piping plover breeding habitat was undertaken. Current program emphasis includes protection as a natural wildlife habitat, but terns primarily nest on nearby Interstate Island WMA.

Central Minnesota


15. Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area
110 acres in Crow Wing County valued at $ 100,000

The Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area is Minnesota's first "Landscaping for Wildlife Demonstration Area." Landscaping for wildlife techniques have been used on this area with emphasis on the 16 landscaping components described in Carrol Henderson's "Landscaping for Wildlife" book. These include nest boxes and loafing structures, tree and shrub plantings for all seasons, butterfly, bee and moth plants and wildflower plantings, raptor nesting and perching sites, a snake hibernation mound and brush piles.

The emphasis of this unit is on demonstration and education, featuring trails, benches and interpretive materials. This area was donated by Bob and Barbara Uppgaard through coordination by the Minnesota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

16. Whitefish Lake Shoreline Conservation Easement, Galbraith family
108 acres in Crow Wing County valued at $ 1,080,000

Whitefish Lake. This property is one of the few remaining large tracts of undeveloped lakeshore located on Whitefish Lake, which is undergoing enormous pressure for lakeshore development. In its present state, this 108 acres has significant and substantial value as a natural, scientific, and educational resource because it has not been developed. It is an important riparian habitat with high quality woodlands and backwater ponds.

This property provides important habitat for several wildlife species including bald eagles, neotropical migrant songbirds, great blue herons, waterfowl, shorebirds, and a variety of other nongame species. Additionally, this property has extensive pine and maple-basswood old forest that is essentially undisturbed.

The conservation easement covering this property will protect it and the adjacent waters in their undeveloped state for future generations.

Southwest Minnesota


Butterflies and native prairie flowers.

17. Neudecker Wildlife Management Area
11.76 acres in Redwood County valued at $ 13,500

The Neudecker WMA serves as a demonstration area for "Landscaping for Wildlife" practices in the agricultural area of southwest Minnesota. Landscaping for wildlife techniques have been used on this area with emphasis on the 16 landscaping components described in Carrol Henderson's "Landscaping for Wildlife" book. The addition of butterfly gardens, nest boxes, feeders, brush and rock piles, snags and ponds enhance the existing 45 species of trees and shrubs.

Over 45 different species of trees and shrubs were planted by Father Otto Neudecker, whose family held a life estate on the building site after his father donated 160 acres to the Diocese of New Ulm. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Father Neudecker and his sisters convinced the Diocese to donate this parcel to be used as a Landscaping for Wildlife demonstration area. It is serving as an ideal area to show what species of plants are beneficial for wildlife as well as the drawbacks of other species.

Great blue heron wading in a wetland.

18. Wig Wildlife Management Area
10.6 acres in Kandiyohi County valued at $ 9,600

The 10 acre parcel in the Wig WMA is the first acquisition of a 40 acre island in Long Lake, 5 miles north of Wilmar. This timbered island has the largest mixed species nesting colony of wading birds in Minnesota. Species nesting include great blue herons, black-crowned night-herons, great egrets and double-crested cormorants. In addition, cattle egrets and snowy egrets have been seen in the rookery. Other species using the island include pileated woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and belted kingfishers.

The area is signed with "Wildlife Sanctuary" signs - No Trespassing between April l and August 31, to prevent disturbance of the colony during the nesting season.

Field of purple coneflowers.

Southeast Minnesota


20. Dr. Johan C. Hvoslef Wildlife Management Area
204 acres in Fillmore County valued at $ 145,000

This 204 acres is a haven to nongame animals, especially birds. It was donated by Dr. Kinsey Anderson of California and was dedicated to honor Dr. Johan Hvoslef, a country doctor who worked in Lanesboro at the turn of the century. He traveled throughout the county and kept some of the best birding notes of the era. The notes, written in Norwegian are now at the Bell Museum of Natural Science at the University of Minnesota. A project is underway to get the notes translated to English.

The land has a large meadow, numerous wildflowers, hardwood forest, bluffs and a good trout stream. It is visited by rare birds such as the Louisiana waterthrush, and also has a large spring that feeds into the Root River. The area is managed for all wildlife species, with particular emphasis on nongame birds.

Twin Cities Metro Area


21. Lamprey Pass Wildlife Management Area
1320 acres in Anoka/Washington Counties valued at $ 396,000

Lamprey Pass Wildlife Management Area. The most unique wildlife resource on this area is a major colonial bird rookery located on the north shore of Howard Lake. Mud Lake and Howard Lake are two shallow game lakes that are utilized by a number of aquatic wildlife species including mallards, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, ringnecks, redheads, canvasbacks, gulls, green heron, and American bittern.

The upland area is utilized by nongame species including red-tailed hawks, kestrels, broad-winged hawks, great horned owls, barred owls, killdeer, mourning doves, eastern kingbirds, scarlet tanagers, and eastern meadowlark. This upland area provides habitats for white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, red foxes, badgers and gray foxes.

Lamprey Pass provides the opportunity to manage and protect an important diverse wildlife habitat in the twin city metro area. This area was first managed by Uri Lamprey, a St. Paul attorney, as a local duck hunting club in 1881. In 1982 the heirs of Mr. Lamprey and surviving members who had an interest in the property worked with The Minnesota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to sell the area to the DNR. The cost of the property was split between the Nongame Wildlife Fund and the Game and Fish Fund. In addition to its wildlife values, this area is the site of the oldest known native American settlement in Minnesota. It contains mounds from the Hopewellian culture.

22. Jean Williams Farm, Conservation Easement
205 acres in Carver County valued at $ 318,756

This 205 acres of private land is a show piece of environmental restoration. It contains 13 ponds, more than 50 acres of prairie grasses and wildflowers, 30 acres of wetland, and 75 acres of forest. The conservation easement on this land requires perpetual protection of the landscape, it still remains in private ownership but all development rights have been donated to the DNR.

The area has important ecological values and provides an excellent habitat for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, Woodland songbirds, grassland birds, waterfowl, and a variety of nongame wildlife. It lies within the boundaries of the Minnesota River Watershed and has valuable elements of transitional hardwood forest and prairie communities.

23. Eagle Creek Aquatic Management Area
35 acres in Scott County valued at $ 1,000,000

Eagle Creek is one of the few streams in the metro region still healthy enough to sustain populations of trout. The aquatic management area also contains a "boiling spring," an unique geologic feature. This designated trout stream was faced with imminent urban and commercial development that would have degraded the stream and damaged or eliminated the trout populations and associated riparian habitat for songbirds, amphibians and other wildlife.

24. Mound Prairie Wildlife Management Area
346 acres in Houston County valued at $ 398,000


This 346 acre parcel is the first wildlife management area to be established in Houston County. It borders the Root River northwest of Hokah, with the Richard J. Dorer Memorial State Forest located on the opposite side of the Root River. Mound Prairie offers an excellent opportunity for wetland restoration. The area ultimately will be restored to its original layout of wetlands, bottomland forest and prairie on the higher ground. The area provides habitat for many wildlife species such as the sandhill crane, waterfowl, deer, and the Blanding's turtle, a state threatened species. In addition to providing benefits for wildlife and the public, this wildlife management area will also benefit the local economy.

The purchase of this valuable habitat was achieved by the combined efforts of the willing seller, with funding provided by the Nongame Wildlife Program, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the Reinvest in Minnesota Program.

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