DU Presents “Beyond The Call” Awards To Perch Lake Partners

DU Presents “Beyond The Call” Awards To Perch Lake Partners

DU Presents Beyond The Call Awards
Deborah Loon (left) and Mike Malling (right) accept Beyond the Call awards from Jon Schneider (center).
Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. –-(Ammoland.com)- Ducks Unlimited presented two key Minnesota partners with “Beyond The Call” awards for work above and beyond the call of duty to make the Perch Lake enhancement project possible.

Deborah Loon of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust, and Mike Malling of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were recognized at the trust’s October board meeting by Ryan Heiniger, DU director of conservation programs for Minnesota and Jon Schneider, DU manager of Minnesota conservation programs.

“The Perch Lake project has been a high priority for our local, state and federal partners for many years, as it is so valuable to migratory waterfowl and one of the state’s designated wildlife lakes,” said Loon, executive director of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust.

“The trust was proud to be a partner in this project and help bring it to fruition.”

In 1971, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources legally designated Perch Lake in Blue Earth County for wildlife management purposes. The 310-acre lake has a history of abundant waterfowl use, but is periodically compromised by carp and other invasive fish entering from the nearby Cobb River.

Shortly after the designation, the Minnesota DNR installed a water control structure on private land to allow water level management on the lake that would induce natural fish winterkill conditions and rejuvenate the marsh. By the mid 1990s the structure was no longer functioning, and because the structure and lake outlet were on private land, it could not legally be replaced until the land was acquired by a public conservation agency.

“The challenging conservation work we tackle to enhance, restore and protect Minnesota’s key shallow lakes for waterfowl simply cannot be accomplished without strong partnerships,” Schneider said during the presentation. “Enhancing Perch Lake with an improved water control structure was made possible only through a decade of perseverance by Mike Malling and strong land acquisition efforts and negotiations by Deb Loon. Without the leadership of these two individuals and the strong support of both the trust and the service, Perch Lake would still be unprotected and unmanaged today.”

After years of effort by many conservation partners, Malling and Loon spearheaded an effort to acquire the 110-acre outlet tract and several others on Perch Lake to help restore the lake’s watershed and provide DNR and DU with legal access to the lake’s outlet to replace the structure. DU engineers surveyed and designed a new variable crest outlet water control weir structure equipped with a fish barrier feature. The structure returned water levels in the lake to normal levels, and will be subsequently used by the DNR in future water level management actions designed to keep the lake in an optimal state for migratory birds, especially waterfowl.

“DU was a very important partner in the success of this project as well, and their wetland engineering expertise was invaluable,” Malling said.

Funding support for the engineering of the project was provided through a 2008 grant from Minnesota’s Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. DU then installed the new structure in spring 2010 using a combination of other state and federal grants from LCCMR and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

The land will be transferred from the trust to the service and managed as a federal Waterfowl Production Area, and the DNR will manage the Perch Lake structure through a cooperative agreement with the trust and service. The project is part of DU’s Living Lakes Initiative and the Minnesota DNR’s Duck Recovery Plan. These cooperative efforts call for the enhancement, restoration and protection of shallow lakes and large marshes for both waterfowl migration and brood-rearing habitat.

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.