Prairie habitat project underway at Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area

January 8, 2021

As part of a habitat enhancement project at Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, contractors are removing invasive trees and brush at the WMA’s Kleven Tract, south of Milan, along the north bank of Lac qui Parle Lake.

The plan is to remove large stands of invasive trees and shrubs such as Russian olive, Siberian elm, and buckthorn in a 157-acre project area. The project is designed to improve prairie quality and will benefit wildlife species ranging from grassland birds to white-tail deer.

“Historical photos show much less woody vegetation in this area compared with current conditions,” said Lac qui Parle area assistant manager Nick Trauba. “Removing invasive trees will restore the openness of the grassland and benefit grassland wildlife species.”

Frozen ground allows contractors to use heavy equipment without disturbing the soil and to work in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. The trees will be piled and burned as weather permits, and the remaining stumps will be chemically treated to prevent re-growth.

A number of native trees like oak, walnut and dogwood will remain along the lakeshore to provide wildlife a travel corridor and winter habitat. Native shrubs in that location will be cut to encourage desirable regrowth.

A Pheasants Forever Enhancing Public Lands Grasslands Grant is funding the project through a partnership with the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

“We’re pleased to work with Pheasants Forever,” Trauba said. “This project reinforces the strong relationships the DNR has with its partner organizations.”

The project should be completed before the end of January, depending on the weather.