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Habitat

MWA Chapter Projects 1969 - 2015

This map is a collection of MWA Chapter Projects ranging from 1969 to 2015. At the moment we do not have any records for projects before 1969. For confidentiality, projects done on private lands have points plotted relative to their location and are not exact. To use this interactive tool: zoom in, pan to, any point and click on the point to get a pop-up of the project details. Details include: Chapter(s) that funded the project, amount of $ funded, type of project, location of the project, date, and details on the project itself. Please share this great resource and celebrate the successful projects that MWA has done over the years.
For the Ducks,
MWA

Biologist Blog - Matt Stasica

 

Matt Stasica is the Biologist for the Minnesota Waterfowl Association based out of the Carver Rapids Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Matt was hired in August, 2014 to work in the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District. Matt's position is a unique partnership between the MWA and the U.S.F.W.S.

Matt is considered an expert in soils, wetland types, upland seed mix, and all things related to habitat conservation. Matt's passion for the outdoors and extreme work ethic has been an undeniable benefit to both the MWA and the U.S.F.W.S. 

When not at work Matt enjoys spending time with his companion Jaxson, an Irish Red Setter Matt brought home as a puppy and playing one of his many musical instruments. Matt's looking forward to sharing his field experience with the MWA membership as we go forward.


MWA Biologist Matt Stasica

Tiger Lake Aerial Photo from 1937

Tiger Lake Aerial Photo from 1937

Tiger Lake Aerial Photo from 2015

Tiger Lake Aerial Photo from 2015

Hoary Puccoon

Hoary Puccoon

Trumpter Swans

Trumpter Swans

Sanborn WMA - Wetland Restored

Sanborn WMA - Wetland Restored

Erin Prairie WPA - Ohio Spiderwort

Erin Prairie WPA - Ohio Spiderwort

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Wetland Restoration

Partners for Fish and Wildlife Wetland Restoration

Straight Creek WPA Upland Restoration

Straight Creek WPA Upland Restoration

Journal Entry December 28, 2016

Habitat Projects 2016:

I thought for the end of the year I would do a glimpse back on all the accomplishments that MWA and the biologist position had done in the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District.

Early in the year is when a lot of office work is done. One very useful tool that I have been using for refining wetland and prairie restorations is spatially rectifying PDF aerial photography from years all the way back to 1937. By giving the PDF a spatial signature I can toggle between the years and even show them all at once at different transparencies. The old aerial photos have a lot to say. I can make observations as to where drain tile is, what the historic vegetation and land-uses where, where were the wetlands and how did they get drained.

This tool helps in making preliminary delineations for available tracts of land. It also helps when making wetland restoration designs. A lot of the seed mixes I design for WMA’s or WPA’s are specific to what that area used to have historically. The old aerial images help in investigating what vegetation used to be. Myself and the partners for fish and wildlife biologist at Mn Valley WMD/NWR completed prairie and wetland concept designs for 4 newly acquired tracts: One in Carver Co, Two in Blue Earth Co, and One in Sibley Co. We also were able to draft a wetland restoration design for a newly acquired refuge land.

Also, this tool helped in designing the wetland restoration plans at Tiger Marsh WMA north and also the seed mixes for Tiger Marsh WMA north. I figured out amount of sediment to scrape out of wetland basins by taking soil samples and figuring out the soil texture, colors, and effervescence.

This year also had some grant projects. Two projects are partnered with pheasants forever, MN DNR, and USFWS. This grant is the EPL (enhance public lands) Phase II and the two projects are: Tree Removal around the wetlands at Hahn Lake WPA (Sibley Co) and Diversity Seeding at Carver Highlands WMA (Carver Co). Another grant was the Metro CPL (Conservation Partner Legacy) partnered with Mn Valley Trust, USFWS, and MWA. This tract will have its wetlands restored this winter/spring. The last grant that I had going on this year was the ECP (Expedited Conservation Project) with partners Izzak Walton League of Owatonna and Mn Pheasants Inc. Steele County. This grant was for Straight Creek WPA in Steele County and restoring its uplands to native grasses and forbs. This project will need release mows next year and then the project will be closed out.

Throughout the year there were various tree removal projects on WPAs and Refuge lands. Large scale tree removal was done on Preuss WPA (Le Sueur Co); Cedar trees were removed from Rice Lake WPA (Le Sueur Co); Cedar trees were removed from Hurley WPA (Rice Co); Cottonwoods were removed from Cobb River WPA (Blue Earth Co); all trees near the Rapids Lake Shop (Carver Co) and on the bluff hillside were removed; Locust and trees along the wetland edge at Perbix WPA (Carver Co) were removed; Some wetland basins at Straight Creek WPA (Steele Co) had willow and cottonwoods removed; Wetland fringe at Hartung WPA (Sibley Co) were removed.

A big tree removal project was removing all the woody species in the understory of the oak savanna at Watonwan WPA (Blue Earth Co). Woody species were removed by a Fecon attachment for a Bobcat, Chainsaw, and Brush saws. Depending on the slope various methods were used. By creating a bed of chaff and limbs will help fire carry through the savanna.

My self and the Wetland Management District at Mn Valley WMD/NWR hosted two events for the Regional Office (Region 3) and the Regional Director. The first event was a presentation on efforts to provide pollinator and monarch habitat on private lands through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The second was a seed harvest and collection of forbs and grasses utilized by monarchs and pollinators. That seed was used to seed a patch in front of the USFWS Mn Valley NWR Rapids Lake Unit sign.

Two CPL projects with MWA and USFWS were completed this summer; one was for removing cedars and removing brome and Kentucky bluegrass to establish a native prairie, and the second project is to establish native prairie and restore wetlands.

This year I have also met with a few private landowners to explore options to do prairie or wetland restoration on their properties.

The last couple weeks of this month I have been at the MWA headquarters. Here I have been building the MWA Historical Project database. Years from 2015 through 1979 have been recorded. The vision is to publish this data as a Google Earth platform on the MWA website. Stay tuned for details.

Chapters: If you would like to have a map made for your chapter banquet, please give me at least two weeks’ notice prior to your banquet or request delivery date. Also I can print out a poster size map for you or I can email you a PDF or JPEG for you to take to Kinkos (etc.). My Contact is: matt.stasica@gmail.com or matthew_stasica@fws.gov.

Have a great rest of the year and new year,

For the Ducks,

Matt

Before Tree Removal

Before Tree Removal

After Tree Removal

After Tree Removal

Tiger Marsh WMA Restored Wetland

Tiger Marsh WMA Restored Wetland

Watonwan WPA Oak Savanna

Watonwan WPA Oak Savanna

Release Mows

Release Mows


Wetland in Blue Earth County



High Water Levels in Carver County



Flooded Road Blue Earth County


Journal Entry - September 26, 2016

Since the last Biologist Blog back in July, the two summer interns that helped this season have returned back to school hopefully in pursuit of a wildlife or natural resource degree to better help conserve and protect our waterfowl and habitat. In the meantime, water levels in most of all the MN Valley Wetland Management District’s counties have been really high. It is one of those years where you can see the drained wetlands in the agricultural fields. It has been a challenge to keep water levels at prime dabbler and diver depths; in addition, tough to keep wetlands dry for a fall prescribed burn.

The rain has been tough for active tree removal activities, too. With on-and-off rain it is tough to effectively chemical treat trees in prairie uplands. Luckily there have been a couple windows for active tree removal. Hopefully some of the prairie tracts with tree invasion problems can get burned this fall for effective tree kill.

Lately I have been involved with my duties as the Minnesota Wildlife Society’s Secretary. The other week we had a workshop on wetland management across a continuum. Attendance included: State, Federal agencies, SWCD’s, private consultants, and non-government and nonprofit organizations.

There are a couple grants (CPL - Conservation Partners Legacy) that I am involved in and are waiting for approval. The first is for the restoration of 160 acres to prairie and grassland in Blue Earth County. The other is the restoration and enhancement of lands around the Hennepin County Works Facility in Medina, MN. Active grant projects right now include: Pollinator Enhancement on a 80 acre Wildlife Management Area in Carver county (Pheasants Forever EPL Grant II), Sibley County Waterfowl Production Area tree removal around wetland margins (Pheasants Forever EPL Grant II), Steele County upland restoration 20 acres (ECP - Expedited Conservation Project - Izzak Walton League of Owatonna and Minnesota Pheasants Steele County) and Klehr wetland restoration - Scott County (Metro CPL - MN Valley Trust Inc.).

I hope everyone got out to enjoy the Waterfowl Opener and enjoyed the great waterfowling opportunities we have in Minnesota. Opener was a beautiful morning and hopefully everyone as a great of time as I did. Until then….


High Water Levels at a WPA in Blue Earth County



Sibley County WPA in Fall Bloom


Journal Entry - July 28, 2016


MWA Golf Tournament

In Blue Earth County, just south of Lake Crystal, MN, the US Fish and Wildlife Service manages a Waterfowl Production Area, Howard Farm WPA, that has three new tracts of land added to the complex. I have been helping with the wetland restoration for two of the tracts, and have delineated drained wetlands and tile breaks to restore the hydrology of the wetlands.

North of the new Tiger Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Norwood Young America, MN, is a newly acquired tract of land that will be added to the complex. This area was acquired by Pheasants Forever and managed by the MN DNR. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Private Lands Biologist and I have provided technical assistance for the tracts prairie restoration and wetland restoration. As of last week, the site has been seeded and the wetlands have been restored. The new tract’s seed mix was designed to mimic the historical vegetation community prior to agriculture. There are a few high and dry sites on the land that will feature dry prairie grasses and flowers. The lower areas will feature mesic and transition zone species. Some wetlands on the tract had sediment in their basin. I was able to determine the amount of sediment to remove by digging soil cores and applying a few tests to determine if the soils were natural or transported material.

Many prairies right now have both cool season and warm season grasses and flowers/seed heads. About this time of year, the MN Valley Wetland Management District conducts a Grassland Monitoring Protocol to determine the condition and function of Waterfowl Production Area’s grasslands. I have been helping with a few of these surveys identifying vegetation species and measuring visual obstruction. Most of the metrics that are measured in this survey quantify grassland structure, species richness, and grassland health.

I have also been doing release mows on a few of the newly seeded prairies and wet meadow zones that I have seeded in the spring of this year. The first year after seeding a prairie, release mows are conducted to keep the canopy open and free of weedy annual plants. This management practice also provides planted seedlings direct sunlight and precipitation. Release mows are conducted when the vegetation reaches 12” +/- . The vegetation is cut back to 6-8” so that the canopy is open for sunlight to hit the soil. The key to release mows is to get the timing of your mows just right so that little to no cuttings or “chaff” is left covering the soil. Native grasses and flowers spend most of their energy in the first year growing their deep root systems. Many newly planted prairies don’t look like prairies the first, second, or even third year. Prairies take time to heal themselves and become functioning ecosystems.

This past month Minnesota Waterfowl Association has held a couple of events. The first event this month was the Annual Charity Golf Tournament. The tournament was held in New Prague, MN on July 11th. Sad to say, but my team came in last place, second year in a row… Otherwise, it was a nice day and it is always great to see familiar faces, you can click on the MWA Golf Tournament picture above to read more about the tournament. The other event held this month was the Delegates meeting at the Hopkins State Office. If no one has been to the state office in Hopkins I highly advise you to make a trip. There are many duck and geese decoys, memorabilia, and historic waterfowl items.


Release Mows



Bare Ground After Release Mows



Lincoln WPA Prairie


CPL Grant Prescribed Burn



Water control structure cleanout



Wetland Restoration

Journal Entry - June 27, 2016


Interns

Many of the projects I am working this early summer include managing water control structures on some of the Wetland Management District’s wetlands and also prairie and wetland restoration. The large bursts of rain have been great in providing pooling water habitat on many of the District’s wetlands. I have been checking on control structures to see that they don’t get clogged with debris and get plugged.

Over the last month, I have seeded some areas that used to be agricultural land to prairie. The seed mixes are custom to the soils, landscape, slope, and aspect of the project area. The mixes are also designed to provide nesting habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds, and also provide nectar sources for bees and other pollinator species.

Early June, myself along with two seasonal interns and a bio-tech assisted in installing a school yard habitat project. This was a collaborative effort amongst MN Valley WMD, the State Partners Program, and the Twin Cities Field Office. The habitat project was seeding and planting over 250+ plugs of native grasses and forbs at Orchard Lake Elementary school. K – 5th grade students helped planting plugs and heeling in seed.

I have also completed two project sites that were funded by a CPL grant (Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program) that Minnesota Waterfowl Association provided match on. The first site was a permanently protected easement of smooth brome field that had numerous cedar trees. The project goals for this site were to remove the cedars and convert the smooth brome field to a native prairie.

The other site was a previously farmed agricultural field with drained wetland basins. The project goals for the site were to plant a native prairie that would provide hay to Angus cows and restore drained wetland basins.

I also have been supervising a couple of seasonal summer interns. Hunter Glassrud is a student at Stevens Point working towards a Bachelors in Wildlife Ecology. He is an avid deer hunter and bass fisherman. He enjoys this internship because he gets a variety of jobs every day. The other seasonal intern is Nicole Moldstad, a student at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato working towards a Bachelors in Biology. She likes sports, especially soccer, and fishing up at the cabin. She enjoys this internship because she gets to work outside and handle a variety of jobs.


Grassland CPL after burn



Cedars Before



Planting school yard habitat project

Straight Creek Montanye

Straight Creek Montanye


Journal Entry May 26th, 2016

Hello All! As the Minnesota Waterfowl Association Biologist I thought I would give the members and the Chapters an update on some of the projects I have been working on this spring!

I am working on an Expedited Conservation Project grant with Steele County Minnesota Pheasants Inc. and The Izaak Walton League of Owatonna. The grant is for restoring and enhancing 20 acres on the Straight Creek Waterfowl Production Area in Blooming Prairie, Mn. The Waterfowl Production Area is 325 acres in total. This spring I have seen Northern Shovelers, Mallards, Scaup, Woodies, and Geese using the area. The additional 20 acres of grassland habitat will provide additional nesting grounds for migratory birds. 

Another habitat project I have been doing some coordination on is the Rice Lake Waterfowl Production Area wetland enhancement. Le Sueur Soil and Watershed District in partnership with the Scott-Le Sueur Chapter of Minnesota Waterfowl Association help fund the restoration of a 16 acre semi-permeant wetland adjacent to Rice Lake, just outside of Montgomery, Mn. Partners on this project include: Le Sueur County, Le Sueur Soil and Water Conservation District, New Prague Sportsmen Club, Montgomery Sportsman Club, Scott Le Sueur MWA Chapter, and Cedar Creek MWA Chapter. This month I will be cutting down trees in the uplands and along the wetland edge. 

In Carver County I have been working on designing wetland restoration plans and grassland seed mixes for a new Waterfowl Production Area near Norwood Young America, Mn. The Waterfowl Production Area is 130 acres and has approximately 45 acres of wetland habitat.

Another project that I have been coordinating with Pheasants Forever and MN DNR is a forb enhancement project on Carver Highlands WMA off of Carver County Road 40 adjacent to Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge – Rapids Lake Unit. The current WMA is a stand of brome grass with some native vegetation popping up in some places. The enhancement will make the 75 acre WMA more diverse and bring in a taller and denser cover for wildlife.

At Redhead Waterfowl Production Area, near Green Isle, Mn, I worked with Minnesota Valley Electric Co. to place bird diverters on an overhead powerline in a large waterfowl flyway. Adjacent to Redhead Waterfowl Production Area is Washington Lake. This lake gets stacked with waterfowl. By having the diverters placed on the overhead powerlines, the number of bird strikes will reduce dramatically in this area.

Early Spring is also prescribed burning season. Spring burns are not the best at controlling woody species, but they do help in invigorating grass stands and mid/late flowers. Also, by burning in the spring residual cover for next year’s nesters can build-up. Fall burns consume residual cover for the next year’s nesters, but are great for killing woody species.

Some waterfowl that I have seen in the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District include: Ruddy Ducks, Woodies, Scaup, Northern Shovelers, Blue Winged Teal, Green Winged Teal, Ring Necked Duck, Pintail, and Canada Geese.


Wetland Work



Prescribed Burn in Steele Co



Prescribed Burn in Steele Co



Straight Creek WPA Wetland Habitat