Toe Wildlife Management Area Receives 62-Acres of Wetland Restoration

Dec 21, 2020


December 22, 2020 (Mankato, Minnesota) – After nearly four years of planning, design, and construction, ISG is proud to report the successful completion of a 62-acre wetland restoration project within the Toe Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Situated in rural Jackson County, an area of southern Minnesota where less than 1% of original wetlands remain, the project is part of a larger initiative of the Heron Lake Watershed District to protect and restore nearly 350-acres of wetlands in the Toe WMA.

Heron Lake Watershed

ISG’s Water Resource team, led by Vice President Chuck Brandel, PE, worked with the Heron Lake Watershed District and Jackson County to approach the DNR to restore wetlands on the property. With the DNR owning the proposed tract of land, no acreage was taken out of agricultural production, and the surrounding landowners desired to restore the property to provide additional storage in the watershed to reduce flooding downstream. The project was a collaborative effort between the Heron Lake Watershed District (HLWD), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Jackson County Drainage Authority, Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), landowners in Judicial Ditch 19, and ISG. “This is a great example of partnering with multiple groups and agencies on a project to develop solutions that are a win-win for everyone involved,” said Chuck Brandel.

Heron Lake Watershed

Funding through the Expedited Conservation Partners Legacy grant was identified by ISG’s Natural Resources team and the firm’s in-house fundraising experts assisted securing the additional dollars to make the project happen. The project was awarded $21,661; covering half of project cost. The remaining expenses were assessed to landowners.

Key planning and design considerations included maintenance of water levels to support improved water quality, enhanced vegetative and wildlife habitat, the reestablishment of native prairie and pollinator buffer habitat, and increased public hunting and other outdoor recreational uses. Additionally, by rerouting agricultural drainage and adding storage, flooding experienced by surrounding landowners and communities was reduced significantly, while also increasing agricultural productivity.

The HLWD is making significant progress on its water quality improvement plan, which targets 472-square-mile within the South Heron Lake watershed. Over $1.4 million in funding has been secured and numerous water quality, habitat, and resiliency projects completed—moving the District closer to realizing its water quality goals.

Heron Lake Watershed

The project was completed in the late summer of 2020. All project partners point to its success as an example of what can be accomplished for the state when we work together. “Good wildlife habitat is dependent on good water quality, and water quality is improved by enhancing habitat on public hunting lands,” said John Jaschke, Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. “The completion of this project is especially noteworthy in an area of Minnesota that needs both improved water quality and more wetland habitat. These positive results are a prime example of the collaboration of local experts and state agencies working together to solve problems and realize benefits to the public as envisioned by Minnesotans via their support of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.”

Official press release can be found on PR Newswire.

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