New ground for ducks, hunters in New York

Ducks Unlimited is helping restore 140 acres of Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

Ducks Unlimited will help restore 140 acres at Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area.

Ducks Unlimited will help restore 140 acres at Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area.

Photo © New York State Department of Environmental Conserv

A project to improve habitat for migrating waterfowl in northern New York, while improving public recreation opportunities, will be complete in early 2019.

Ducks Unlimited is helping restore 140 acres of Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area, including 125 acres of emergent marsh and 15 acres of grassland along the Seneca River.

“The project embodies the heart and soul of Ducks Unlimited’s priorities in New York State: restore spring migration habitat in one of the most critical stopover places in the northeast, and at the same time improve hunting opportunities for the public during the fall,” said Brandy Neveldine, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist in New York.

The project will transform the site from an agricultural field back into a natural wetland floodplain with shallow areas that will provide food and resting areas for waterfowl during migration and mudflats particularly attractive to shorebirds. An adjacent field will be restored to native upland grasses and managed as dense nesting cover to attract a diversity of native wildlife species.

The project will improve water quality in the Seneca River by reducing soil erosion and sediment and nutrient run-off from rainfall. And the management area is popular with hunters, birders and hikers. The site is owned by New York State and will be managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

“Prior to restoration, pintails and mallards filled the lower field along the bank of the Seneca River when conditions were just right,” Neveldine said. “The potential for this project to support thousands of more ducks for a much longer period is a very achievable goal.”

Jim Eckler, NYSDEC senior wildlife biologist and manager of Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area, said the management area is popular with outdoors enthusiasts.

“These food-rich, managed lands that receive the first shallow floods of the spring are exceptional stop-over sites for waterfowl and shorebirds,” Eckler said. “I expect this will become a favorite site for wildlife viewers and hunters. I’d like to extend sincere thanks to our many partners. We are fortunate and appreciative that DU has headed this project from beginning to end.”

Partners include the NYSDEC and Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. The $248,000 project is funded through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, Ducks Unlimited, NYSDEC and Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex.