“Over the past three years, the amount of new acreage of seasonally flooded rice habitat enrolled in the program has declined to less than 5 percent of the total,” states Eric Lindstrom, DU biologist for the TPWP.
Even in areas where there is a strong rice base, Lindstrom encourages landowners to manage for native vegetation for several reasons. Moist-soil plants contain specific proteins and amino acids not found in agricultural grains. The seeds also last longer than corn or soybeans when flooded, providing birds with a dependable food source throughout winter. And flooded natural vegetation supports a diverse invertebrate community that waterfowl use to build up protein reserves. Finally, as many of the previously farmed areas revert to natural wetlands, there is an abundant seed source available that yields productive moist-soil habitat.
Today, prime waterfowl foraging and resting habitat established through the TPWP is beginning to offset the state’s serious coastal wetland losses. Private landowners are central to the success of the TPWP because they control more than 97 percent of the land in Texas and understand the importance of restoring wildlife habitat on their lands. Many landowners who complete a wetland project recognize its multiple benefits for wildlife and sign up for additional projects. These landowners have spread the word about partnering with DU among their neighbors, and today demand for wetland restoration by landowners exceeds the funding resources available to Ducks Unlimited and its conservation partners in Texas.
For more information on the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project, contact DU Biologist Eric Lindstrom at 832-595-0663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.