On Aug. 29, a dedication of a new public land parcel southwest of Sleepy Eye took place.

On Aug. 29, a dedication of a new public land parcel southwest of Sleepy Eye took place.

The event highlighted the Dennis and Mary Hoffrogge Tract of the Verona Wildlife Management Area. The project was made possible with the following partners: Dennis and Mary Hoffrogge, Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund, Brown County Pheasants Forever, New Ulm Isaak Walton League, Sleepy Eye Sportsman's Club, Lost Dog and Fox Hunters Club, Nicollet Conservation Club, Minnesota Deer Hunters-Sioux Trails Chapter, Anoka County Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wildlife management areas (WMAs) are part of Minnesota's outdoor recreation system and are established to protect those lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing and other compatible recreational uses.

They are the backbone of the DNR's wildlife management efforts in Minnesota and are key to protecting wildlife habitat for future generations. WMAs also provide citizens with opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching and promoting important wildlife-based tourism in the state.

Minnesota's WMA system started in 1951, when the state established its "Save the Wetlands" program to buy wetlands and other habitats from willing sellers to address the alarming loss of wildlife habitat in the state.

As a result of more than 50 years of support by hunters, trappers, wildlife enthusiasts and legislators, today there are over 1.29 million acres of high quality habitat in 1,440 WMAs located throughout the state, making it one of the best and largest WMA systems in the country.

WMAs are the backbone of DNR's wildlife management efforts in Minnesota. Much of the wildlife managers' work is directed toward protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat on WMA lands.

Despite the program's success, the state is still losing valuable wildlife habitat at an alarming rate.

Continued management efforts on existing WMA lands and acquisition of new parcels will be critical to maintaining quality wildlife habitat in Minnesota.