The Morris Wetland Management District includes 244 waterfowl production areas, encompassing over 50,000 acres scattered throughout an eight-county area. Like other wetland management districts in the prairie states, the goal of the Morris District is to restore and protect sufficient wetland and grassland habitat to meet the needs of prairie wildlife, particularly breeding waterfowl, as well as provide places for public recreation.
The Morris District covers Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Pope, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, and Yellow Medicine counties in western Minnesota. Before settlement, this was a vast expanse of tallgrass prairie, interspersed with thousands upon thousands of prairie pothole wetlands. Since settlement in the late 1800s, 90% of the original wetlands have been drained, and all but 1% of the original prairie has been destroyed.
The Morris Wetland Management District purchases land from willing sellers, manages scattered waterfowl production areas, and works with private landowners interested in improving their land for wildlife. The Morris District also protects land through purchase of permanent conservation easements from willing landowners to protect wetlands and grasslands throughout the district.
Waterfowl production areas provide habitat for an array of prairie species, especially grassland- and wetland- dependent species. Common nesting waterfowl species include mallard, blue-winged teal, Canada goose, redhead, gadwall, ruddy duck, wood duck,and others. Waterfowl production areas are excellent sites for observing grassland songbirds such as bobolinks and meadowlarks. Many waterfowl production areas include areas of never-plowed prairie; these are great sites for wildflower identification and photography.