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United Prairie Foundation receives conservation recognition from Fergus Falls Wetland Management District

The United Prairie Foundation recently received honors for their conservation efforts in western Minnesota.

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John DeVries (left) of the United Prairie Foundation (left) accepts the Conservation Partner of the Year award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a banquet in March 2023.
Contributed photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Fergus Falls Wetland Management District, operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently honored United Prairie Foundation with the fourth annual Conservation Partner of the Year Award.

The award celebrates individual and organizational efforts in promoting and providing conservation through effective partnership efforts with the district. Recipients must have made significant and visible contributions to conservation within the district’s five county jurisdiction in western Minnesota (Otter Tail, Wilken, Wadena, Grant, and Douglas).

“We have the amazing benefit of working with many dedicated partners and individuals that help us on a recurring basis to accomplish conservation priorities,” stated district manager Neil Powers. “We are shining the spotlight on United Prairie Foundation for its steadfast participation in conservation efforts in 2022 while also cultivating positive relationships with our partners.”

“Since 2012 when we first partnered with United Prairie Foundation, they have been instrumental in invasive species removal projects on 12 waterfowl production areas totaling 2,130 acres. In addition, John DeVries has worked with the Fergus Falls district staff to determine the most effective and efficient ways of adding plant diversity to monoculture stands of warm season grasses on Townsend and Ridgeway Waterfowl Production Areas,” stated Brandon Peterson, maintenance worker for the district.

Currently, DeVries is working on another project to increase plant diversity on old grass dominant stands on Busko and Knollwood Waterfowl Production Areas in an effort to support a broad range of species ranging from pollinators to grassland nesting birds and other wildlife. United Prairie Foundation has volunteered countless hours to the Fergus Falls district's seed harvest program, Prairie Wetlands Learning Center seed taping days, and milkweed seed packets for monarch butterfly taggers and other visitors.


“United Prairie Foundation is one of our biggest partners when it comes to harvesting prairie seed,” Peterson said. Over the years, United Prairie Foundation has assisted in harvesting around 35,000 pounds of seed in partnership with Fergus Falls district staff and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff. Harvested seed supports habitat restoration projects on other tracts within the district.

“John DeVries with United Prairie Foundation is one of the most passionate people I have met in the field of prairie restoration. He never stops trying to learn about prairie and how he can make it better. He has big ideas and a willingness to work hard and try new things,” Peterson added.

Learn more about the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service , the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 567 National Wildlife Refuges and 38 Wetland Management Districts. It also operates 68 National Fish Hatcheries and 81 ecological services field stations.

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