Land added to Minnesota’s 1.3 million-acre system of wildlife management areas (WMA) this past fall means protection of more high-quality wildlife habitat and more opportunities to hunt, trap, hike, cross country ski and watch wildlife.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently designated an additional 2,067 acres of newly acquired land as part of 22 existing and new WMAs spread across 19 counties. In total, there are about 1,500 WMAs located in 86 of the 87 counties in Minnesota.
“These WMA lands provide important habitat for game and nongame wildlife species,” said Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “Enhancing our system of public land strengthens habitat, as well as our Minnesota outdoors tradition by making sure everyone has access regardless of a person’s connections or how much property they own.”
Conservation groups including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and The Nature Conservancy, and individuals who partner with the DNR, played a major role in helping to acquire and protect these new WMA lands.
“We are thankful for the work of these groups and individuals for helping current and future generations continue to enjoy these lands,” Boggess said.
Priority has been placed on enhancing contiguous parcels of WMA land to provide important, high-quality habitat. As public land, it can be managed for the long term and allow fish and wildlife populations to cope with changing environmental conditions.
Of the 2,067 new acres of WMA land, 1,297 acres were paid for with funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and approved by the state Legislature. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of several created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the constitution in 2008.
In addition to Legacy funds, other major funding sources were the $6.50 surcharge on each small game hunting license sold, and the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Critical Habitat Matching Program that equally matches private donations of cash or lands.
The RIM matching dollars came from the sale of the critical habitat license plates. The $30 per year charge for each of these colorful plates generates over $3 million a year that can be used to equally match private donations. The RIM matching dollars are used to acquire or develop critical habitat in the state. To see plate designs and information on ordering them, visit http://www.mndnr.gov/features/plates.
Those looking to find existing public hunting, fishing and trail access can use the DNR Recreation Compass feature online at http://www.mndnr.gov/maps/compass.html, or can purchase DNR Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM) available from the DNR gift shop, Minnesota’s Bookstore, or several sporting goods and map stores around the state. The PRIM maps may also be purchased online at http://bit.ly/1m1Yv3w.
These newly dedicated WMA lands will be posted and developed over the spring and summer months next year and will be fully ready for the 2016 hunting season. The newly designated WMA lands will be added to the Recreation Compass and the PRIM maps in the future.
- Ground House WMA, 161 acres, Mille Lacs County.
- Phelps Lake WMA, 166 acres, Rice County.
- Carlos Avery WMA, 30 acres, Anoka County.
- Vogel WMA, 85 acres, Brown County.
- Janet Johnson Memorial WMA, 108 acres, Chisago County.
- Old Red Lake Trail WMA, 120 acres, Clearwater County.
- Vermillion WMA, 364 acres, Dakota County.
- Wo Wacintanka WMA, 5 acres, Freeborn County.
- Oxbow WMA, 97 acres, Jackson County.
- Devil’s Playground WMA, 40 acres, Kittson County.
- Twin Lakes WMA, 10 acres, Kittson County.
- Caerulean WMA, 73 acres, Lac qui Parle County.
- Cordova WMA, 73 acres, Le Sueur County.
- Pembina WMA, 31 acres, Pennington County.
- Delhi WMA, 67 acres, Redwood County.
- Nereson WMA, 280 acres, Roseau County.
- Edward Raymond Mohs WMA, 96 acres, Stearns County.
- Benson WMA, 138 acres, Stevens County.
- Dolven WMA, 30 acres, Stevens County.
- Whitewater WMA, 0.4 acres, Winona County.
- Minnesota Veterans WMA, 31 acres, Wright County.
- Pelican Lake WMA, 62 acres, Wright County.
For more information about WMAs, visit http://www.mndnr.gov/wmas.