Top stories for Dec. 1, 2009
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Improvements made to Duck Factory's largest national wildlife refuge
Hundreds of acres of prime waterfowl habitat in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region, North America's Duck Factory, were at risk on North Dakota's J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, until DU engineers redesigned the water control structure there. Now the Rubble Masonry Unit of the Refuge has a new impoundment device, and 350 acres of wetlands can continue to produce waterfowl.
"The current dam was not functioning," said Roger Smith, DU director of engineering for the Great Plains Regional Office. "The new structure will better manage the erosion factors with the types of soils in the area."
With funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DU replaced the steel structure on the wetland's outlet with large box culverts that have variable level water control capabilities. The project will also include opening up large, dense stands of cattail with deeper water and maintaining early stages of aquatic plant succession in the unit. Periodic water draw-downs and water level manipulation will allow managers to maintain an ideal distribution of open water and vegetation throughout the wetland. J. Clark Salyer is the largest wildlife refuge in North Dakota at 58,700 acres. More than 300 species of birds have been observed at the refuge since it was first established. DU supports funding for projects for these types of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service projects through working with Congress.
DU providing innovative ideas to save Great Lakes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling on Ducks Unlimited and other organizations for suggestions of the "best projects" to restore the Great Lakes watershed under the historic Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
"We're asking for innovative, far reaching, community-based ideas to drive the most aggressive Great Lakes protection effort in decades," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
Ducks Unlimited will be submitting several dozen proposals that, if chosen, will provide both critical habitat and clean water in the Great Lakes watershed. These projects will focus on areas of concern for the Great Lakes Task Force, including habitat and wildlife protection and invasive species control and removal.
DU supported the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative when it was before Congress, and continues to support the implementation of the initiative to restore the Great Lakes watershed through on-the-ground projects and helping guide policies that affect the resource.
New tactic for coastal wetland restoration
Gulf Coast protection could get a boost as the State of Louisiana is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use sediment dredge from the Mississippi River to fill in coastal wetlands.
The Army Corps dredges 5 million to 20 million cubic yards of sediment each year from the Mississippi River to maintain the Southwest Pass, a navigation channel at the river's mouth that empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
"The state recognizes the value to the nation of a reliable channel to support safe and uninterrupted navigation on the Mississippi River," Scott Angelle, the state's natural resources department secretary, wrote in a letter to the Commerce Department.
Studies estimate Louisiana loses 24 square miles of coastal wetlands per year, or about a football field every 38 minutes.
The Gulf Coast provides vital wintering habitat to millions of waterfowl, including gadwall, green-winged teal and mottled ducks. Ducks Unlimited's Southern Regional Office works with Louisiana state officials and other stakeholders for innovative, practical solutions to restoring wetlands for waterfowl and the industries that depend on the Gulf Coast.