Prescribed burn restores waterfowl area

By: 
Wade Young, Montgomery Messenger

Fire crews burn off a control line.

(Photos courtesy of Hanna McBrearty, MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge)

A prescribed burn of a waterfowl area in Montgomery last week will ensure it continues to be a productive habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) conducted a prescribed burn at the Erin Prairie Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) on Tuesday, April 20. Erin Prairie WPA is a unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Wetland Management District.
According to Hanna McBrearty, Public Information Officer, prescribed burning is a habitat management tool widely used on public and private lands in Minnesota and across the country.
“The USFWS uses prescribed fire to restore and revitalize native ecosystems, reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires, and to control invasive plants. The burn targeted invasive and woody vegetation encroaching on a native prairie habitat of 190 acres,” she said.
The original Erin Prairie tract (north tract) was purchased in 1998. The new 80 acre south tract was purchased by Pheasants Forever in 2013 and was transferred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015.
McBrearty said it has been restored to provide habitat for nesting waterfowl and other grassland dependent species.
Erin Prairie WPA is directly adjacent to the MN DNR’s Robert J. Lick Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and both the WPA and WMA benefit from this close proximity.
She said the WMA provides additional brood water habitat for waterfowl, and the WPA provides the necessary nesting habitat.
“The birds don’t care who owns what, so it’s one of those unique sites where the presence of the WPA and WMA both contribute to the overall wildlife value,” she stated.
Other public lands scheduled for prescribed burns this spring include Bass Ponds-Long Meadow Lake Unit (Hennepin Co.), Louisville Swamp Unit (Scott Co.), Howard Farm WPA (Blue Earth Co.) and Straight Creek WPA (Steele Co.).

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