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USFWS helps property owners improve land

For more than 23 years many landowners in the Beltrami and Clearwater counties have found themselves recipients of wildlife projects benefitting their property. One such landowner is Gordy Forester. Last year Forester decided to restore a drained marsh on his property to a productive 18-acre "duck factory."

It happened with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has restored more than 1,300 marshes and wetlands - providing more than 2,600 acres of habitat - since 1988 through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program.

Most projects have been done at very little cost to the more than 130 partnering landowners.

More than waterfowl benefit from the projects as wetlands aid in erosion control, critical flood reduction provided by reduced runoff and improved water quality.

Flooding has been occurring on a regular spring thaw cycle, due to the drainage of wetlands especially in agricultural areas.

Wetlands naturally act as sponges to filter and store water runoff.

Through Partners for Fish and Wildlife, approximately 3,900 acre feet of water have been kept on the land for flood storage and water filtering. That's equivalent to over 3,000 feet of water piled on a football field, including the end zones.

Most projects are left restored beyond a 10-year agreement period and maintained by landowners so over the years this is obviously good news to future generations and neighbors who enjoy wildlife.

Forester has added wood duck boxes to enhance the property for cavity nesters.

"It was a great project and I was glad to be doing something beneficial for the wildlife," Forester said.

If you feel you have an opportunity on your land you can contact Kurt Svendsgaard at or call 218-847-2641.

Svendsgaard is a private lands biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.