News release: Habitat project to begin at Clifton, Rolling Hills wildlife management areas

February 13, 2024

Project in Lyon County is the product of partnership with Pheasants Forever and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council

Work will begin next month on a habitat restoration project at Clifton and Rolling Hills wildlife management areas, two WMAs east of Marshall in Lyon County.

Contractors will remove trees and brush scattered across the two WMAs. Those trees and brush will be cut, stump treated, piled and burned. The trees include cottonwoods and non-native Russian olive, Siberian elm and buckthorn that have degraded and spread across critical prairie habitat. Tree removal work will take place over a two-year period.

The strategic tree removal is designed to benefit the prairie and grassland ecosystem and provide improved nesting and brood rearing habitat for pheasants, grassland nesting waterfowl, and other grassland-dependent species. It will also benefit pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

“Removing the trees will improve grassland habitat for pheasants, waterfowl, native songbirds and other wildlife that require open landscapes,” said Troy Dale, Marshall area assistant wildlife manager. “We’re targeting non-native trees and scattered trees that degrade habitat for grassland species. However, the key phrase here is ‘strategic tree and brush removal’ since there is value in keeping trees and shrubs on the landscape where they fit.”

In fact, wildlife staff planted a 5.5-acre area with native shrubs and trees back in 2017 to benefit birds, pollinators and deer.

The habitat improvements will provide a better experience for hunters, hikers and bird watchers. People with questions about the project can reach out to the Marshall area DNR wildlife office at 507-706-6170 or email Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Troy Dale at [email protected].

The project is a partnership with Pheasants Forever and its Enhanced Public Lands Program and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund was created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest, and habitat for fish and wildlife.

WMAs are open to the public year-round and provide opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife watching activities. For more information, visit the Minnesota DNR website.

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