DU recognizes DNR Wildlife Manager Randy Markl

Minnesota DNR wildlife professional Randy Markl was recognized recently for his many years of dedication to wetlands and waterfowl conservation with Ducks Unlimited‘s 2012 Minnesota Conservation Partner of the Year award.

Minnesota DNR wildlife professional Randy Markl was recognized recently for his many years of dedication to wetlands and waterfowl conservation with Ducks Unlimited‘s 2012 Minnesota Conservation Partner of the Year award.

The award was presented to Markl at a DNR southern regional wildlife staff meeting by Jon Schneider, DU manager of conservation programs for Minnesota.

Markl has worked for DNR Wildlife for 33 years, beginning as a wildlife technician in Grand Rapids, Minn., in 1979, after which he was promoted to assistant area manager at Roseau River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in 1984. Since 1988, Markl has been DNR’s Windom area wildlife manager. Mark­­l holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University in Minnesota.

“Throughout his career, Randy’s motivation and enthusiasm for working with DU to restore, enhance and manage wetlands for improved waterfowl habitat has been strong and, if anything, has only increased in recent years,” Schneider said. “DU relies on partnerships with state and federal agency wildlife managers like Markl who understand and appreciate the importance of actively managing water levels in remaining wetlands and shallow lakes to improve their productivity for wildlife. These partnerships are essential to the success of DU’s Living Lakes Initiative and to improving duck habitat in Minnesota.”

Markl’s wetlands conservation partnership with Ducks Unlimited dates back to the 1980s, in conjunction with large wetland impoundment projects at Roseau River WMA in northwest Minnesota. Cooperative efforts in the 1990s included buffering and enhancing famed Heron Lake and restoring and actively managing wetlands on many new wildlife areas Markl helped acquire in his Windom work area, at the heart of Minnesota’s portion of the Prairie Pothole Region.

Markl’s leadership to spearhead the acquisition and restoration of the 1,000-acre Timber Lake Complex is especially noteworthy, as it has resulted in one of the largest and most important prairie wetland complexes for wildlife in southwest Minnesota. These and numerous other prairie wetland wildlife areas have been restored and managed by Markl throughout his tenure in Windom, including more than 20 Ducks Unlimited conservation projects, in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Service, other state and local agencies and numerous other non-profit conservation groups.

Markl has fostered many strong partnerships along the way and emphasized communication with stakeholders to generate and maintain local support for wetland habitat restoration and management. In addition to his efforts to improve and mange Heron Lake in Jackson County, noteworthy accomplishments include partnerships with DU to improve the aquatic ecology of 499-acre Lake Augusta and 202-acre Hurricane Lake in Cottonwood County in recent years. Markl’s efforts also continue to acquire and restore wetland habitat on Martin County’s Four Corners and Kramer WMAs, and at other sites with the help of DU and local partners.

Most recently, Markl led the way to legally designating two important shallow lakes in the Windom area for wildlife management. Wildlife lake designation orders for Teal Lake in Jackson County and Bolstad Slough on Banks WMA in Cottonwood County were signed in late 2011 by DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, only the 46th and 47th lakes in the state with such a designation. DU surveyed and designed water control structures for both shallow lakes in 2011 and completed installation of the new structures in November 2012.  Each enhancement project was funded in part through a 2012 state Legacy Amendment grant from the Outdoor Heritage Fund to DU, and each shallow lake is now in temporary draw-down that will continue through the 2013 growing season to rejuvenate its aquatic ecology.

“Without Randy’s perseverance and strong leadership, combined with support from his DNR wildlife co-workers, the designation and enhancement of Teal Lake and Bolstad Slough would not have happened so quickly,” said Josh Kavanagh, DU regional biologist. “For that, we are very appreciative.”

DU’s Living Lakes Initiative strives to help the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service improve shallow lakes and large wetlands throughout Minnesota and Iowa for ducks and other wildlife. The cooperative work among DU, DNR and other partners will help fulfill the shallow lake goals of Minnesota’s “Duck Recovery Plan” and wetland habitat objectives in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.