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U.S. Prairie Pothole Joint Venture
Implementation Plan

Implementation Guidelines for Management Strategies


Protection and management of wetlands will ensure maintenance of public values such as wildlife habitat, reduced soil erosion, lessened flood damage, enhanced water quality, reduced pollution, and increased recreational and educational opportunities.


Wetland Protection

 Right Arrow Bullet  Acquisition (Easements or Fee Title)

  • Habitat acquisition priorities should focus on providing a complex of various wetland types from ephemeral to permanent interspersed with grassland to fulfill habitat requirements for a wide variety of wildlife species.
  • Acquisition of land in fee title, and/or easement from willing sellers, will provide secure protection and management capabilities for wetlands and associated grasslands.
  • Acquired tracts will be managed by a range of agencies from Federal, state, and county government to organizations with land management capabilities.

     Right Arrow Bullet  Location

  • Select areas where existing cover or potential for cover development will provide secure nesting sites.
  • Where loss of wetlands is imminent or potential for loss is high.
  • Target wetlands near areas where nesting habitat treatments have been applied. This protects wetlands in areas where money has been spent to provide for increased recruitment.
  • Wetland Restoration

    Restoration of wetland complexes that provide a variety of wetland habitat types on public and private land will maximize natural diversity, and offer suitable breeding and migrational habitat for many different wildlife species.

    Vegetative response to wetland restoration will vary among areas depending on time since drainage, past agricultural practices, and effectiveness of drainage. Generally, restored wetlands that were drained within 30 years provide a greater coverage of emergent vegetation and plant species diversity than restoration of wetlands drained over 30 years ago. Wetland basins that have been reflooded periodically will maintain a more diversified and viable seed bank, and should be targeted for restoration.

     Right Arrow Bullet  Location

  • Give top priority to areas where quality nesting cover is abundant, nest success is high (≥20 percent based on Mallard Model or nest studies), and wetland numbers are low.
  • Pair habitat (small wetlands) should be restored in areas that have adequate brood habitat.
  • Brood marshes should be developed in areas with adequate pair ponds.
  • Exceptions to these rules could be made for specific wetlands that provide all the requirements for certain species such as canvasbacks.

     Right Arrow Bullet  Size

  • The size of restored wetlands will be partly determined by the previously existing wetland, cost, objective, and numerous other factors. Data on pair/wetland relationships indicate that more pairs per acre can be attracted to several small ponds, say 1 to 5 acres compared to fewer large ponds. In other words, five 2-acre ponds will likely attract more pairs that one 10-acre pond.
  • Larger wetlands (≥20 acres) provide a higher number of breeding bird species, because they offer greater structural diversity of vegetation, a larger food base, and a more reliable water supply.
  • Wetland Creation

    This treatment involves creating new wetlands where none existed previously. Techniques could include blocking/damming water ways, dredging ponds, or diking low lying areas.

     Right Arrow Bullet  Location

  • Create wetlands in association with high quality nesting cover and where nest success is high.
  • Avoid watersheds where soil erosion in the drainage is likely to fill in the wetland.
  • Target areas where ratio of watershed to surface area of created wetlands is 10:1.
  • Target areas where complementary ponds (brood, pair) exist or will be built to provide a wetland complex. Do not build isolated ponds.
  • Avoid areas near riparian habitat (mink habitat).

     Right Arrow Bullet  Type/Size

  • Do not build dugouts adjacent to (edge of) natural semipermanent wetlands (dugouts of this type attract mink and do not provide sufficient shallow zone).
  • Plan pond to provide mix of semipermanent or better water depth and also ample shallow zones.
  • Target areas with fertile soil.
  • Seasonally Flooded Wetlands

    This treatment involves installing water control structures in low lying hay meadows that are naturally or artificially drained. The process results in mutual benefits. Water is trapped on hayland and provides wetland habitat attractive to breeding ducks similar to naturally occurring seasonal wetlands. Later in the season when many nests are near hatching, water is drawn off these areas to allow increased vegetation growth and haying. This action allows increased hay production in many years.

     Right Arrow Bullet  Location

  • Locate in areas with other pair wetlands including semi-permanent type.
  • Target areas with brood water within one mile.
  • Select areas that have sufficient quality nesting cover to result in high nest success (use Mallard Model).

     Right Arrow Bullet  Other Considerations

  • Control structure should not allow the water to be drained below its previous low level.
  • For breeding pairs, drawdown should occur between June 1 to July 15.
  • Wetland Enhancement

       Right Arrow Bullet   Water Level Manipulation

    Water control structures can be used when possible to increase management capabilities through water level management capabilities through water level management on individual basins or entire wetland complexes. Timing, water depth, and duration of drawdowns or flooding are all important considerations to successfully manage for migratory birds. Managing wetlands for 30-50 percent emergent cover (hemi-marsh) through drawdowns for vegetative regeneration is important for maintaining suitable vegetation structure. Water level manipulation is important to maintaining critical brood habitat for birds as well as an abundant source of invertebrates for food.

       Right Arrow Bullet   Cattail Control

    Cattails become so dense in some wetlands that those wetlands become virtually useless to ducks. Various techniques such as burning, forced grazing, discing, herbicides, mowing and water manipulation are used to reduce or eliminate cattail growth from some portion of the wetland and provide open water. The objective is to create a hemi-marsh situation ideally with a moat of open water around cattails in the wetland center.

       Right Arrow Bullet   Location

  • Select areas with existing nesting habitat other than the cattails marsh or use in combination with upland habitat improvement, nest structures or islands. (Exception to this may be justifiable if canvasbacks or redheads are targeted. If so, locate where canvasback or redhead occur.)
  • Select cattail marshes where water is virtually non-existent.

  • Contact the Service, USDA, or Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for details on techniques.

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