Ducks Unlimited’s first North Dakota project area for a new mitigation program will be used primarily for youth hunting.
DU will complete its first North Dakota In-Lieu Fee Mitigation project this spring on private land near Carrington. Restoring and protecting wetlands on the property will mitigate for development land that inadvertently impacts wetlands.
“Our in-lieu fee program allows developers to move forward with their plans,” Ducks Unlimited biologist Trent Hieb said. “Wetland restoration and protection is what we do, so we can make sure it is done correctly with the best biological value.”
The federal government requires public agencies or private businesses to replace wetlands lost through development. With DU’s in-lieu fee program, developers purchase credits from Ducks Unlimited, and the conservation group then handles the mitigation work.
“Once credits have been purchased, it is then DU’s responsibility to deliver the mitigation on the ground,” Hieb said.
DU looks for legally drained wetlands on properties in the same watershed that can be restored to replace wetlands taken out for new roads, railroad work or buildings. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then places an easement on the newly restored wetlands, ensuring they will not be drained in the future.
Landowners are compensated by DU through funds derived directly from in-lieu fee credit sales to developers, Hieb said. The cost of mitigation credits varies throughout the state, he said.
Lee Wahlund owns the site where DU will restore 59 acres back to wetlands and grassland. Wetland construction took place last fall, and DU will seed grass in the spring.
Wahlund is using the land and 240 other acres on the property as part of his established youth hunting program, called WAHLU, which stands for Wildlife and Habitat Land Use. With help from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, organizations and volunteers, the program offers kids the opportunity to take a hunter safety class, learn to shoot and then be taken on their first hunt on the property.
“Basically, I want to get as many kids out as possible and give them their first hunt,” Wahlund said. “It all ties together with the mission of the WAHLU program, which is to enjoy and share our great hunting heritage.”
For more information on the in-lieu fee program and the process of buying or developing wetland credits, contact Hieb at (701) 355-3573.