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DU brings better water management to North Dakota's largest refuge

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Work at J. Clark Salyer NWR
DU replaces water control structure at ND refuge

UPHAM, N.D., Nov. 23, 2009 – Running water is the Earth's most effective erosion agent. Building a water control structure to stand up to it can be tricky. Ducks Unlimited just completed a new structure at the J.Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge in north-central North Dakota to replace dams that have eroded over time. The box culverts will improve water level management on the 350-acre Rubble Masonry Wetland Unit near Upham.

"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 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 also includes opening 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.

"The wetlands on the J.Clark Salyer refuge provide important migration and breeding habitat for waterfowl," said Rick Warhurst, DU manager of conservation programs for North Dakota. "The habitat is vital to the nearly 125 species of birds that nest there, including mallards, blue-winged teal, redheads, gadwalls, northern pintails and Canada geese."

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

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