This fall is the start to a new restoration project we are implementing at the Hamlin Garland wildlife and public hunting area located a mile North of St. Ansgar.
This 112-acre area has a mixture of different habitat types that include upland and riparian forest, as well as prairie, and a large wetland complex. This area also offers a mixture of different food plots that vary from year to year along with multiple walking trails.
Restoration efforts will begin with the prairie and the wetland complex. The 16-acre prairie is located between the wetland and the food plots.
Over the years the prairie has been overrun with reed canary grass. Reed canary grass is very invasive to native prairie and wetlands and extremely hard to eradicate because of its very dense vegetation and aggressive root structure.
It inhibits the growth of native grasses and forbs by taking over the area and out competing the native seed.
In order to eradicate the reed canary grass, we will be spraying the prairie multiple times. After the area is sprayed we will burn the prairie to get rid of the residue and follow up by plowing it up and seeding it with a highly diverse prairie mix the following spring.
Hamlin Garland’s wetland complex was restored many years ago, over the years the area has held a good quantity of water however siltation from the drainage area has resulted in a failed water control structure as well as additional habitat for cattails.
Unfortunately the area has now been overwhelmed with cattails, while cattails are a native wetland species and good for the health of wetlands, this situation has surpassed good health and is over taken by nothing but cattails limiting diversity for wildlife and impacting waterfowl use in the area.
Most waterfowl prefer shallower wetlands with a variation of a few deep holes. The variation of water depth will bring in a more diverse variety of waterfowl because different species like different depths of water.
Waterfowl also need the ability to have a zero-entry access to easily go from dryland to water and having long stretches of open water is crucial for landing and taking off.
The cattails are currently encroaching on the wetland and making it a limited waterfowl habitat.
The process of fixing the wetland will take time and patience. We will be installing a new water control structure to control water levels and to mimic natural cycles to reduce the cattails restore the diversity of the wetland.
The idea behind the water level control technique is to drain the wetland in the summer and fall to dry out the cattails and make it more accessible to management equipment.
We will then go in right before the start of hard freezes occur and implement a prescribe fire through the cattails.
In the spring when the cattails are starting to re-sprout we will spray the new cattail growth and close the water control structure to reflood the wetland.
This process will mimic a drought followed by a flood putting stress on the cattails. Cattails are very good at repopulating through seeds and rhizomes, by re-flooding the wetland shortly after the cattails are sprayed it will reduce the growth of new shoots of cattails through the rhizomes knocking back old and new growth.
With time, we will restore the health of Hamlin Garland and make it a more diverse wildlife area for the public to enjoy and utilize.
We appreciate the patience and cooperation during this time.
Unfortunately there has been repeated vandalism and trash dumping near the building site for this reason a gate has been installed and visitors will need to park near the entrance and walk in from there, however, the area is still open for public hunting and recreation.