ANN ARBOR, Michigan – April 27, 2017 – Ducks Unlimited and 14 conservation partners will launch a two-year habitat conservation effort across southeast Michigan to improve wildlife habitat and water quality.
The Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Habitat Project is a $3 million effort to improve or protect 4,081 acres on 15 habitat projects. The focus area is on the 22 coastal zone counties associated with Saginaw Bay and western Lake Erie in Michigan, and includes Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.
“These habitats provide critical habitat for waterfowl and many other species of wetland dependent wildlife, and are vital to water quality relied upon by millions of residents,” said Jason Hill, Ducks Unlimited biologist and manager of conservation programs for DU’s Great Lakes Initiative.
Wetlands protect and improve water quality by filtering sediment and nutrients in rainwater runoff. These projects will help protect surface drinking water supplies used by more than 4 million people in the project area while enhancing fish populations and helping to reduce flood waters.
This is the fourth phase of The Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Habitat Project, which began in 2005 and has conserved more than 10,000 acres. It targets Great Lakes coastal marshes and associated shoreline habitats, and interior wetlands and associated uplands.
More than 3 million waterfowl annually migrate through or breed in the Great Lakes region.
Unfortunately, Michigan has lost more than 50 percent of its historical wetlands and losses in some coastal counties along Saginaw Bay and western Lake Erie exceed 90 percent. Further troubling is the estimated 99 percent loss of Michigan’s prairie habitat, with less than 1 percent of Michigan’s historic lake plain wet prairie intact today.
The public benefits from permanent protection of Great Lakes coastal wetlands, inland wetlands, and associated uplands, maintaining a perpetual habitat base for wetland dependent wildlife and fisheries. These actions provide outdoor recreational opportunities on public lands, primarily increased hunting and fishing opportunities for Michigan’s nearly 2 million hunters and anglers.
“Fortunately, a dedicated partnership has come together for more than a decade to consistently leverage funding for wetland conservation and management in this corridor,” Hill said.
Funding comes from a $1 million federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant and 15 supporting partners including Ducks Unlimited. Partners also include private residents, corporate partner Axalta Coating Systems, non-profit conservation organizations and government agencies such as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.8 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.