We are fortunate in New York to be able claim the southern half of the St. Lawrence Valley (SLV) which, along with the southern Ontario portion has been referred to as the “Prairie Potholes of the Atlantic Flyway,” and not without good reason! In New York alone, surveys have shown mallard nesting densities to be highest in this region (5/km2) than any other in the Northeast.
If you like habitat, the SLV is where it’s at! The St. Lawrence River along with thousands of wetland basins surrounded by a mix of grasslands, shrublands and woodlands provide beautiful scenery and support rich wildlife populations. Game animals abound and recreation opportunities are available on thousands of acres of state-managed lands. But here, as in so many other places of importance to wildlife, the story is the same. Habitat loss due to changes in agriculture, development and recreational and industrial disturbance continue leading the SLV in a direction that is not necessarily good for the wildlife it now supports. It is a priority for Ducks Unlimited to continue and increase conservation efforts in this important international focus area.
The St. Lawrence Valley is perfect for implementing the North American Bird Conservation Initiative’s (NABCI). This is an international program with an “all birds” focus where habitat conservation is delivered through partnerships that benefit multiple species of birds. A NABCI working group consisting of Ducks Unlimited, the NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Audubon Society, N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation, and Nature Conservancy recently completed one such all birds project called the Dial Site. A 1,600-foot berm was constructed at this site in September 2003 to establish approximately 30 acres of emergent and scrub/shrub wetland habitat on a 244-acre parcel of land that already supports grasslands, shrublands and woodlands. The Dial site will hopefully be the first of many projects that realize the benefits of such holistic thinking and provide readily visible examples of how we may leave future generations such richness.
We are working to find more ways that people and wildlife can coexist in the uniquely productive ecosystem of the St. Lawrence Valley. Be on the lookout for some great DU-led opportunities to be a part of protecting and restoring this region of NY!