One of Ducks Unlimited’s strategies for the Heartland Heritage and Habitat
initiative area is to engineer wetlands to help balance the water needs of a thirsty landscape. DU recently completed five ponds on Webster State Wildlife Area near Greeley, Colo. These wetlands were developed to provide augmentation water to the South Platte River to offset water being used by a local industry. The 78 acres will also provide habitat for ducks and geese and areas for waterfowl hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.
The new ponds are the result of a three-year effort between the landowner, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and DU to develop the property for waterfowl conservation and hunting. The ponds were designed to ensure water depths preferred by foraging ducks and other water birds are maintained when landowners apply augmentation water to the property.
“First we had to investigate the feasibility for recharge in the area, and then determine the best location for the ponds,” said Kevin Warner, the DU engineer who worked on the project. “We transformed a former corn field into wetlands and now have a functioning wetland that benefits industry and wildlife.”
The ponds will be flooded in late spring and through early fall, when migrating waterfowl most need flooded habitat. The target species for this project include mallards and northern pintails, although all dabbling ducks will benefit.
“Timing of the water going into the South Platte River must closely match when it is being used elsewhere so the river maintains its flow and other water users are not cut short,” Warner said.
This work is one of DU’s latest accomplishments in addressing the habitat needs of migrating and wintering waterfowl while providing additional areas for Coloradoans to enjoy their waterfowling heritage. The new ponds will be full this summer and public access will be allowed beginning in fall of 2015. Check Colorado Parks & Wildlife regulations for updates on the property and hunting access.