Habitat Conservation

90% of ducks produced in the prairie pothole region are hatched on private land

Given that 90 percent of duck production occurs on private land, Delta Waterfowl believes that working with landowners is the key to addressing large-scale habitat challenges on the breeding grounds. Delta has researched and pioneered a voluntary, incentive-based approach to conserving the most essential — and threatened — breeding duck habitats: small wetlands and upland nesting cover.

After years of demonstrating the capabilities of this habitat strategy to work for both ducks and the agriculture community, the Delta model was recently adopted in the United States and Canada.

Working Wetlands

delta waterfowl working wetlands program conservation impact US

Working with agricultural and conservation leaders in North Dakota, Delta designed Working Wetlands to provide fair compensation to farmers to conserve critical, duck-producing ponds. Small, shallow ponds provide essential invertebrates to nesting hens and ducklings, but they are also at the highest risk of drainage. 93,500 acres of these wetlands were lost from 1997 to 2009, and millions of wetland basins remain at risk within the U.S. prairie pothole region, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Delta Waterfowl’s Working Wetlands was designed to conserve small wetlands in cropland by providing voluntary, incentive-based annual payments to farmers and landowners in return for the conservation of these resources.

Delta and our partners worked aggressively to include Working Wetlands in the 2018 Farm Bill. As a result –

U.S. Farm Bill Inclusion

Delta Waterfowl made an impressive and indelible mark on the North America conservation community when, in April 2020, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that they would implement and roll out the Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Habitat program a program based closely on Delta’s Working Wetlands pilot program-across the Prairie Pothole States. Delta’s goal is to leverage the new tool to conserve the majority of the PPR’s more than 1.5 million eligible wetlands.

Manitoba Growing Outcomes in Watersheds

Delta Waterfowl’s advocacy efforts have resulted in a commitment by the Manitoba government to secure 90 percent of the province’s ephemeral and temporary wetlands — those most threatened and of highest importance to nesting ducks. Manitoba’s provincial government worked directly with Delta to create a new voluntary, incentive-based program called Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) to achieve this historic feat.

In late summer 2019, the Manitoba government doubled its investment in GROW, creating new incentives encouraging landowners to conserve wetlands and providing stable, perpetual funding. GROW is important validation of Delta’s long-standing work to find new solutions to conserve small wetlands on working farms.

Find Your State

Programs are administered by each state. Find information for Working Wetlands (now the Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program PPWQWP) below.


GROW is delivered by watershed districts in cooperation with producers and Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development.