Improving Agassiz Valley for Birds

Audubon has improved 250 acres of important bird habitat at Agassiz Valley
Invasive, hybrid cattails are a problem for Black Terns, American Bitterns, and host of other birds that rely on wetland habitats in northwest Minnesota. Photo: Alex Wardwell

Northwest Minnesota is an important place for Minnesota’s birds as a unique transition area that bridges the prairies to the south and west to the eastern forests. Historically, the area was dotted by shallow pothole wetlands, but agricultural development has greatly changed the landscape.

Today, shallow man-made lakes act as flood-control reservoirs, otherwise known as impoundments (see photo above). These managed wetlands serve as critical stopover and nesting habitat for waterbirds as they migrate and breed.

Audubon Minnesota is improving bird habitat within the Agassiz Valley Impoundment, a floodwater storage area that helps to mitigate flooding in two counties and the Snake River.

Soon after its construction, the Agassiz Valley Impoundment was overtaken by invasive, hybrid cattail that is not native to Minnesota. The aggressive plant has reduced habitat quality by choking areas that previously had open water and outcompeting native plants. 

Audubon is working to create more open water areas and to allow the reestablishment of native plant species in the impoundment. 
 
Through various treatments – including mowing the hybrid cattails in winter – Audubon  has improved 250 acres* of bird habitat. We will continue to monitor bird activity and plant response to gauge the success of this project.

Audubon Minnesota is working closely with the Middle-Snake-Tamarac Rivers Watershed District, the manager of the Agassiz Valley Impoundment, to develop wildlife enhancement elements that could be incorporated into the future management of the impoundment. 

For more information on this project, contact Alex Wardwell. Sign up for eNews to get updates on our work in northwest Minnesota. 

*An acre is 43,560 square feet, which is about the size of a football field

Funding for this project is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

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