DU utilizes an assortment of conservation tools to provide habitat for breeding, migrating, and wintering waterfowl, and one of the most effective is public policy
. The 2014 Farm Bill
, for example, created a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which merges several existing programs and provides funding incentives for state, federal, private, and nongovernmental organizations to form conservation partnerships to improve the health of major watersheds. Such conservation partnerships have been highly successful in the past, and that model will continue to serve waterfowl well through this new program.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)
has contributed to the conservation of almost 27 million acres of habitat across North America, including many key projects in the Completing the Cycle Initiative area. NAWCA remains one of the most important sources of funding for wetlands conservation, and its reauthorization is at the top of DU's public-policy priority list. This voluntary, nonregulatory program is a bargain for taxpayers, as every federal dollar allocated through NAWCA is matched with more than three dollars from nonfederal sources.
Because waterfowl do not recognize international borders, DU must work across North America to ensure a bright future for these magnificent birds and the people who enjoy them. Your gift to DU's Completing the Cycle Initiative will support crucial waterfowl habitat conservation work not only in the Atlantic Flyway, but also in the Prairie Pothole Region, Western Boreal Forest, and lower Great Lakes—the areas where the majority of this continent's waterfowl are raised. For more information about how you can support the Completing the Cycle Initiative, visit the DU website at ducks.org/DUinitiatives
Kristin Schrader is a regional communications manager at DU's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
ASSESSING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SALT MARSH RESTORATION FOR BLACK DUCKS There isn't a more iconic waterfowl species in the Atlantic Flyway than the American black duck. Unfortunately, populations of these prized birds have declined significantly over the long term. DU's efforts to stem this decline have focused on conserving key salt marsh habitats on important black duck staging and wintering areas along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Habitat managers assume that salt marsh restoration will increase the abundance and accessibility of foods important to black ducks. These resources should result in greater use of restored habitats, increased winter survival, and improved body condition among black ducks prior to the breeding season. However, it's unclear how many black ducks can be supported by existing habitats and how the birds are responding to ongoing restoration efforts.
Through a cooperative research project, Ducks Unlimited and several partners are working to understand the relationship between salt marsh restoration activities and the health, behavior, and movements of black ducks. Data will be collected over four field seasons on three study sites in Connecticut: Silver Sands State Park, Great Harbor Wildlife Management Area, and Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. Silver Sands State Park will undergo habitat restoration activities in 2014, while the other two areas will serve as control sites. Information gathered from this work will help guide coastal habitat restoration and protection efforts to benefit black ducks and other waterfowl along the Atlantic coast. Currently entering its second field season, this research is supported by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Black Duck Joint Venture, Waterfowl Research Foundation Inc., Camp Fire Conservation Fund Inc., and Ducks Unlimited.