Each spring, when agricultural lands in Minnesota leach nitrates and phosphorus into the Mississippi River, they create a dead or "hypoxic" zone in the Gulf of Mexico which can reach 8,000 square miles and kill off most ocean life. One way to curtail this problem is by restoring wetlands. They can act as a buffer to help clear and store water so it reduces its impacts downstream.
The water that naturally collects in this former lake bed is channeled into a series of irrigation ditches that lead to concrete pipes or "tiles". These carry the water away from the field and into nearby streams. Returning this lake to its original state will help prevent this runoff — which includes phosphorus and nitrates — from ultimately ending up in the Mississippi River.
IN 1920, MEEKER COUNTY DRAINED BUTLER LAKE AND CONVERTED THE LAND TO AGRICULTURAL USE. 100 YEARS LATER, SIX LANDOWNERS DECIDED TO WORK WITH SCOTT GULP TO RETURN THEIR FARMLAND TO ITS NATURAL STATE.
“Minnesota has lost somewhere over 90% of its wetlands and shallow lakes. The wildlife species depending on these wetland habitats are in great decline, so the US Fish and Wildlife Service is leading the charge here to restore habitat for wetland dependent wildlife,” Scott Glup notes. “That can include ducks, geese, swans, shorebirds, wading birds, muskrats, mink, otter, frogs, salamanders, turtles. Pretty much anything that uses wetlands.”