In 2001, DU and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife began work on a project at the Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area in Cumberland County to create much needed waterfowl breeding habitat. Heavy equipment severed a number of Peninsulas jutting into several artificial ponds on the management area to create 13 islands, primarily for the benefit of nesting waterfowl.
The Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area is managed by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife primarily as a fishing area, but also a place for deer and waterfowl hunting. It covers over 400 acres, of which 62 acres are open water. The ponds were created as a result of a sand mining operation that ceased by the 1950's. The land in and adjacent to the ponds are presently used by breeding waterfowl, including American black ducks, mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese. In particular, the project will provide breeding habitat for imperiled American black ducks, as well as migrating and wintering habitats for an array of other waterfowl. Creation of the islands will also improve circulation of water in the ponds, improve habitat for fish, and create foraging habitat for wading birds.
The proposed nesting islands lie within the Deleware Bay Estuary on one of the most important habitat areas for shorebirds and waterfowl. The project represents an excellent opportunity to improve critically needed waterfowl habitats and will advance the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Atlantic Coast Joint Venture in the Maurice River Focus Area. DU, MARSH Program, is funding partner in the Maurice River Project.