Tiger Lake preserve area established

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A protected area has been established west of NYA surrounding Tiger Lake. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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A protected area has been established for grasses, waterfowl and wetlands just west of NYA.
Involving a partnership with the Carver County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Hamburg Hunting and Fishing Club and Conservation Partners of America, Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Minnesota DNR, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a total of 278 acres of wildlife area surrounding Tiger Lake has been created according to Pernel “Chip” Hentges, a conservation technician with the Carver Soil and Water Conservation District.
The wildlife complex is located on the shores of Tiger Lake, which is a DNR-designated “Wildlife Lake” and consists of 3 tracts, with two of the tracts being managed as by the Minnesota DNR as state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and the other tract being managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a federal Waterfowl Production Area (WPA).
Hentges said the effort to acquire the land started almost 25 years ago because of the importance of the Tiger Lake area.
“The nice part about the Tiger Lake area is they target that,” he said. “That is a waterfowl production area, a nesting area. It’s a big lake.”
The first area of land was acquired by National Pheasants Forever in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and since then, 18 wetlands totaling 35 acres and 105 acres of grassland habitat have been restored on the Tiger Lake North and Tiger Lake South WMAs.
More recently another area of land was acquired almost a year ago at auction.
“We were able to locally support that,” said Hentges, adding they needed to acquire $60,000 in funds in a short amount of time. “Right away I made phone calls and we all contributed and that’s how we got the money.”
The Carver County Chapter of Pheasants Forever has invested considerable funds, raised at past banquets, in the establishment of the Tiger Lake Complex including donating $25,000 this past year. The Hamburg Hunting and Fishing Club and Conservation Partners of America also stepped up by contributing $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.
As part of the wildlife oasis, all restoration work within the Tiger Lake Complex has been coordinated by FWS Biologist Mike Malling and Minnesota Waterfowl Biologist Matt Stasica.   The past and future restoration work will provide valuable breeding habitat for waterfowl, pheasants, and grassland songbirds such as bobolinks and sedge wrens.
While other areas of land may seem beneficial to waterfowl populations, the nearby wetlands and grassses around Tiger Lake make for an ideal open area habitat, according to Hentges.
“Ducks need to have upland grass areas to be able to hatch their young,” said Hentges. “You still need upland nest areas for wildlife. They knew this was a roosting area. With everything around it, ducks have place to land, got a place for their young to nest. Otherwise in small areas, foxes and raccoons can go in there and clear everything out.”
In addition to waterfowl nesting area, Hentges said the entire community will benefit from the oasis as well.
“It’s a great place for public hunting and for everyone to enjoy,” said Hentges, admittedly a hunter. “You don’t even need to be a pheasant hunter. You can be bird watchers. We set this land aside, this is for everybody. That’s the neat part of all this.”
Work on Tiger Lake WPA will commence in 2017, with approximately 20 wetlands being restored and the remaining uplands being seeded this summer or fall to create a diverse mix of prairie grasses and forbs.
“It will be a neat area for that,” said Hentges, looking ahead to educational opportunities with Central science classes as well.
Hentges added that there is additional land parcels that will be added to the area as well as other purchasing agreements are sorted out.
All tracts were acquired by Pheasants Forever through grants received from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).  The LSOHC was established by the MN legislature with the responsibility of providing annual funding recommendations to the legislature from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The Outdoor Heritage Fund was one of four funds created by the voter approved “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment” in 2008.
For more information, visit  www.co.carver.mn.us/swcd.

Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.