Ducks Unlimited conserving at-risk SD wetlands

NAWCA grant will help DU and partners working with landowners to protect and restore important wetlands

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Ducks Unlimited is working with landowners and partners to protect and restore a series of South Dakota wetlands.

Ducks Unlimited is taking on a series of wetlands conservation projects in eastern South Dakota, thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. Much of the work is focused on small, seasonal wetlands as they are the most important habitat for breeding waterfowl, providing the pair habitat needed by territorial breeding pairs in the spring.These small wetlands also offer brood habitat full of aquatic invertebrates and other foods needed by ducklings.

The bulk of the grant will go to South Dakota farmers and ranchers to protect “at-risk” wetlands from drainage through permanent conservation easements.

DU will also repair a water control structure on Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Columbia, enhancing important waterfowl habitat.The Lake Bdesaka restoration project near Sisseton was also approved, providing the funds needed to install a large water control structure and permanently restore this 250-acre marsh.The grant also includes restoration dollars for a project on the Medicine Knoll Creek Game Production Area east of Pierre.

DU will restore small wetlands on the Engstrom property in Clark County on the south side of Swan Lake, a DU property that was recently transferred to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP).The land is also the site of a future Legacy Greenwing and Major Donor recognition cairn. About 50 wetlands on private land will be restored, including DU-owned properties near Watertown, Veblen, Sisseton, Woonsocket and Mitchell.

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant is being matched with private dollars from DU and conservation partners to bring the total spent conserving habitat up to $3.3 million. Ducks Unlimited could not secure this grant and complete these projects without the cooperation of the many landowners involved in this effort and our conservation partners, including The Nature Conservancy, James River Water Development District, SDGFP, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pheasants Forever chapters in Aberdeen, Sisseton and Mitchell, Izaak Walton League of America, Brown County Whitetails Unlimited, High Plains Wildlife Association, the Sportsman’s Club of Brown County, and the Grass Lake Conservation Club.