Invasive tree removal project to take place in Goose Creek Waterfowl Production Area

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have collaborated to carry out an invasive tree removal project on the Goose Creek Federal Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) in Sections 13 and 24 of Nunda Township.

According to a press release, management goals for the Goose Creek WPA are to restore and maintain its original prairie wetland landscape to benefit nesting waterfowl and other grassland dependent wildlife. Woody vegetation is currently invading and degrading the established grassland and wetlands, diminishing their intended wildlife values.

Extensive research strongly concludes that trees negatively impact most waterfowl and grassland bird species, species that have experienced widespread habitat loss across southern Minnesota, the release stated. Grassland birds, in particular, have demonstrated some of the sharpest population declines in North America. Most trees encroaching into this landscape today are not endemic to grasslands or wetlands, but are products of planting.

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In addition to shading out and eventually replacing grassland habitat, woody vegetation also invites inordinate numbers of avian and mammalian nest predators. Many of these predators are not historical residents of grasslands, resulting in excessive levels of nest predation.

The project centers on removing fast-growing invasive woody vegetation such as cottonwoods, European buckthorn and eastern red cedars. Not all woody vegetation will be removed. Native oaks, as an example, will remain.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to utilizing the best available science to guide its management decisions. WPAs are acquired and managed for the primary purpose of benefiting waterfowl and other wetland/grassland wildlife. Habitat loss stresses the importance to restore, enhance and protect existing prairie-wetland resources to benefit dependent wildlife populations. Science makes it clear that invasive tree removal is a critical component of this effort. Additional information on woody vegetation impacts to grassland birds is attached.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also partner with Pheasants Forever later this winter to complete another invasive tree removal project on the Two Island WPA in Sections 24 and 25 of Manchester and Section 19 of Bancroft Townships in Freeborn County.

If you have questions about future management and public use on these areas, contact Windom Wetland Management District manager Todd Luke at 507-831-2220.