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U.S. Prairie Pothole Joint Venture
Implementation Plan

Executive Summary

Wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), (Figure 1), are among the continent's most biologically productive systems, providing habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, amphibians, and a variety of other wildlife. These wetlands are important for maintaining and recharging groundwater supplies and improving water quality, for storing floodwaters, and for trapping sediments. The PPR wetland complexes and their associated grasslands are an integral component of the prairie landscape, providing a wide array of ecological, social, and economic benefits.

Historically, PPR wetlands have been regarded as impediments to development and have been targeted to be drained and filled. Across the lower 48 states, more than half of the original 200 million acres of wetlands have been lost to various causes, including drainage and intensive agriculture. Wetland habitat loss has created a dramatic decline in wetland-dependent wildlife populations, especially waterfowl.

In 1986, the United States and Canada signed the NAWMP in response to concerns over the dramatic loss of wetlands and declines in waterfowl populations. The NAWMP is a framework for protecting, restoring, creating, and enhancing critical wetland habitat in the United States and Canada. The NAWMP calls for the formation of partnerships between state and Federal governments, and private organizations to cooperate in the planning, funding, and implementation of projects to conserve and enhance wetland habitat in high priority "joint venture" regions.

The PPJV, (Figure 2), was designated as one of the six original joint ventures. The PPJV began activities in 1987, and has made substantial progress in developing partnerships for the protection, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands. Specific accomplishments may be found in "Partnerships in Progress, U.S. Prairie Pothole Joint Venture Accomplishments 1987-1993."

The NAWMP was updated in 1994 to reflect accomplishments and changing times on a continent-wide basis. This 1994 PPJV update, as a stepdown from the NAWMP, also reflects the changes and accomplishments that have occurred since PPJV activities were initiated. This document provides a broad, comprehensive set of strategies and actions to guide PPJV activities. State Action Plans, developed by each state in the PPJV, further break down the PPJV Implementation Plan to specific actions and operations at the local level.

The goal of the updated PPJV is:

To increase waterfowl populations through habitat conservation projects that improve natural diversity across the U.S. Prairie Pothole landscape.

The PPJV will strive to provide breeding habitat capable of supporting 6.8 million breeding ducks, including 1.2 million mallards and 1.1 million pintails, that produce a fall flight of 9.5 million ducks under average environmental conditions.

The habitat acreage objectives developed by each of the states will continue to be refined as management techniques for both waterfowl and other wetland/grassland associated wildlife are researched and implemented. The PPJV habitat acreage objectives are 1,891,315 acres protected, 744,898 acres restored and 3,664,500 acres enhanced. From the period 1987-1993, PPJV partners protected 1,413,982 acres, restored 125,272 acres, and enhanced 357,066 acres of wetland and grassland.

The PPJV continues to emphasize the importance of working with private landowners, and recognizes the significant contributions that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), and the Water Bank Program (WBP) make to meeting the objectives of the NAWMP. As of 1993, approximately 12 million acres of CRP had been enrolled in the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Montana, with 6.8 million acres located in the PPJV. These 6.8 million acres and another 550,000 acres enrolled in the WBP, contribute excellent wetland and upland habitat for a variety of wildlife.

While ducks continue to be a major focus of the PPJV, other wildlife, in particular, wetland/grassland migratory birds, and threatened and endangered species such as the piping plover, will be addressed through partnerships with organizations that include Wetlands for the Americas and Partners In Flight. Waterfowl management strategies that benefit wildlife, in addition to ducks, will be identified and supported. Where opportunities are present, specific non-waterfowl management strategies may be developed and implemented. Groundwater recharge, water quality, and recreational opportunities will continue to be important byproducts of PPJV activities.

The estimated cost to implement the strategies described in the PPJV 1994 Implementation Plan update is $2,440,863,000. Although this amount seems high, CRP and other USDA programs, if implemented, will continue to contribute a significant portion to this investment. Remaining costs would be shared by Federal and state agencies, private organizations, corporations, and individuals dedicated to the goals of the PPJV and the NAWMP. Cost of implementation of preferred strategies may vary greatly from state to state and site to site across the PPJV.

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