DU, via the SRO, and in cooperation with many state and federal agencies, private corporations, and private landowners, offers a full range of conservation programs in the MAV. Nearly all of DU's accomplishments in the MAV have been through partnerships with other conservation interests, but DU is a leading partner in delivery of many of these programs. DU has a full staff of biologists, RS/GIS analysts, and engineers that work in tandem on a variety of wetland restoration, enhancement, development, protection and evaluation and monitoring projects.
DU will shift toward conservation programs that emphasize long-term protection of flooded native emergent vegetation and forested wetlands. DU will continue to emphasize work with the USFWS, USFS, and all state agencies in the region to develop, restore or enhance wetlands on public land that will provide foraging habitat in perpetuity. The conservation easement program will be expanded and targeted to emphasize protection in perpetuity of existing tracts of forested wetland and other valuable foraging habitats that flood naturally. Finally, DU has formed a partnership with the USDA NRCS to deliver a large percentage of the WRP in the MAV. WRP is uniquely suited to the MAV with its emphasis on restoration of marginal farmland via reforestation with mast producing hardwood trees, and some restoration of hydrology. The majority of work completed under WRP provides foraging habitat for waterfowl that is protected via perpetual conservation easements.
Through FY2004, DU has conserved 242,504 ha of habitat in the area loosely defined as the MAV (i.e., generally the area identified by the NAWMP). DU conservation programs are an integral part of the NAWMP LMVJV goals, which call for plan partners to provide at least 376,514 ha of foraging habitat for wintering waterfowl (Loesch et al. 1994). Notably, the LMVJV plan only accounts for foraging habitat needs for winter defined as the 90-day period from December 1 through February 28 (Loesch et al. 1994). Considerable numbers of waterfowl occur in migration before and after these periods, consequently LMVJV goals may be conservative.
DU conservation programs in the MAV are delivered at the landscape scale. Currently, opportunities exceed funding and staffing capability. As such, programs are not specifically targeted to any particular area of the MAV. Staff at the SRO developed a specific action plan targeting areas for proactive conservation work in the MAV over through fiscal year 2008. The action plans calls for continued restoration work through the Wetland Reserve Programs and other programs that both restore and provide perpetual protection to habitat, increased emphasis on securing conservation easements, and increased extension efforts aimed at encouraging land use and agricultural practices that are wildlife and waterfowl friendly. Toward this end, the SRO has developed a marketing initiative entitled River CARE to publicize conservation programs and assist with fundraising efforts to support conservation programs.