To help provide improved habitat for waterfowl and create a healthier environment along the Atlantic coast, DU is working with a number of state and federal agencies, conservation groups, and many other partners to restore and enhance high-value coastal wetlands on national wildlife refuges, state wildlife management areas, and other public lands. This habitat work includes the restoration of historic tidal flows in coastal marshes, management of moist-soil impoundments for foraging waterfowl, and control of invasive vegetation.
DU also helps private landowners in coastal watersheds to restore and enhance wetlands, plant upland grass buffers, reforest riparian corridors, and protect key wetlands and shoreline habitats with conservation easements. In Maryland, for example, DU and partners such as the USFWS, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Waterfowl Festival Inc., Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, private landowners, and others have restored more than 53,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands. This habitat not only supports waterfowl and other wildlife but also reduces sediment levels in rivers and streams, improving water quality in Chesapeake Bay.
Important coastal wetlands exist in many other areas along the Atlantic coast. In the South Atlantic region, large numbers of waterfowl migrate and winter on Currituck, Pamlico, and Albemarle sounds in North Carolina; the ACE Basin in South Carolina; and Mosquito, Banana, and Indian River lagoons in Florida. Along the North Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada tidal wetlands also support significant breeding populations of black ducks, mallards, green-winged teal, wood ducks, and other waterfowl species. DU is actively working to conserve vital coastal wetland and watershed habitats in each of these areas. To date, DU and its partners have conserved approximately 190,000 acres of waterfowl habitat in the mid-Atlantic region, 270,000 acres in the South Atlantic region, 117,000 acres in Atlantic Canada, and 20,000 acres in the North Atlantic region of the United States.
Compared to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, the Pacific coast has a relatively small acreage of wetlands, largely because of its rugged topography. The relative scarcity of Pacific coastal wetlands makes them especially important to wildlife and people. These varied habitats support millions of breeding, migrating, and wintering waterfowl as well as some of the world's richest fisheries of immense cultural and economic importance.
The Pacific Northwest is a high-priority conservation area for Ducks Unlimited. Washington's Puget Sound and its surrounding watershed support peak numbers of more than 500,000 dabbling ducks as well as tundra and trumpeter swans, Pacific brant, Wrangel Island lesser snow geese, and several species of sea ducks. Unfortunately, Puget Sound has already lost more than 60 percent of its original salt marshes and more than 90 percent of other coastal wetland types. These losses far exceed the national average, and if future sea-level rise estimates hold true, half of the remaining tidal flats and brackish marshes along the Oregon and Washington coasts may be lost by the end of this century.