Ann Arbor project benefits farmer, wildlife

The nearly 100-acre grassland and wetland restoration project is at the Washtenaw Food Hub

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Washtenaw Food Hub field in Ann Arbor growing new habitat.

Ducks Unlimited is helping an Ann Arbor landowner to promote not only healthy wildlife habitat, but healthy eating as well.

The nearly 100-acre grassland and wetland restoration project is at the Washtenaw Food Hub. The hub is a unique farming cooperative that blends sustainable development with smart food growing practices.

“It’s getting back to the idea of a more biodiverse landscape and low-input way of growing food over a long-term period,” said Kim Bayer, a partner with the food hub.

DU is helping restore 96 acres of what was once a heavily-farmed section of land back to a natural state.

In 2015, DU and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources planted 82 acres of native grasslands at the farm property. In 2016 DU and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will restore 14 acres of wetlands. When finished, the site will provide nesting habitat for mallards. “It’s fantastic that there is this kind of support for restoration like this,” Bayer said. “We are extremely grateful to be able to participate and to try to make it something that adds to the biodiversity in Michigan.”

The project cost is $50,000. It’s part of an overall $560,000 regional grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act received and administered by Ducks Unlimited. The grant is funding work to restore fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality on more than 400 acres of wetlands and grasslands in the western Lake Erie basin of Michigan and Ohio. Partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Partners for Fish and Wildlife program; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Ohio Division of Wildlife; and Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District.

This project is part of DU’s Great Lakes Initiative, which aims to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and conserve critical habitat for many species of waterfowl that utilize this vast watershed throughout their life cycle.