MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 16, 2006 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and partners completed restoration of 312 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in Dyer County, Tenn. The project area, known as Thorny Cypress Wetlands, will be incorporated into the Ernest Rice Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
“This restoration project was supported by a generous gift of $65,000 from Tyson Foods, Inc.,” said DU’s Director of Conservation Programs for Tennessee, Chris Cole. “Their donation helped us improve waterfowl habitat in an area important to migrating and wintering waterfowl.”
In addition to funds provided by Tyson Foods, Inc., the TWRA received a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to purchase the property. NAWCA grant funds were also used to conduct other wetland conservation projects in the Lower Obion River Basin.
Ducks Unlimited partnered with TWRA, the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. TWRA developed the NAWCA grant, to which DU contributed matching funds.
“The acquisition of Thorny Cypress Wetlands gave us the opportunity to convert land that was used for production agriculture to bottomland hardwood forest and to expand public use,” said Carl Wirwa, TWRA biologist and manager of the Ernest Rice WMA. “This was part of a larger conservation project to restore wetlands and associated areas in the Lower Obion River Basin. Once the entire project is complete, we will have restored 5,800 acres of wetlands.”
Bottomland hardwood forests historically dominated the landscape along the Mississippi River. The food and shelter resources of these forests supported many generations of waterfowl as they migrated to and from the breeding grounds in the prairies to wintering grounds in the south. Over time, trees were harvested, wetlands were drained and agriculture dominated the landscape.
TWRA Forester Jason Maxedon created an innovative program to restore bottomland hardwoods in Tennessee.
“I collect local seeds and contract with a nursery to cultivate the seeds and grow the trees until they are about three or four feet tall,” said Maxedon. “I evaluate the planting site and determine which tree species are most appropriate to plant. This way, we plant trees compatible with local environmental conditions, ensuring they will survive and be productive food sources for wildlife.”
Ducks Unlimited, TWRA and other conservation organizations in Tennessee are working to restore portions of bottomland hardwood forest and reestablish natural flooding in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. These efforts will increase natural migratory stopover areas available to waterfowl and improve the connection among breeding, migration and wintering areas.
Since 1990, NAWCA has provided over $7.8 million in funding for 17 conservation projects on more than 50,000 acres in Tennessee. For more information on NAWCA, go to www.ducks.org/nawca.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.
Look for Ducks Unlimited on the World Wide Web at www.ducks.org. Tune into The World of Ducks Unlimited Radio Network and watch Ducks Unlimited Television on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN).