MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 6, 2005 – Ducks Unlimited, who partnered with several Washington conservation organizations, received a $1 million NAWCA grant to restore 668 acres of wetlands and associated uplands in the San Juan Islands.
“This will be DU’s first conservation effort in the San Juan Islands,” said Dan Golner, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited. “This area is important wintering habitat for Pacific brant and supports several thousand waterfowl and shorebirds during migration periods including lesser and greater scaup, and northern pintail. Our work here will also benefit a variety of species including seabirds, shorebirds, marine mammals and fish.”
The San Juan Islands, near Vancouver, Canada and Vancouver Island, are home to the largest number of breeding bald eagles
Ducks Unlimited will use a $1 million North American Wetlands Act grant to protect critical wintering habitat for lesser and greater scaup on the San Juan Islands near Vancouver, Canada.
in the lower 48 United States, and also home to the orca or killer whale.
Ducks Unlimited partnered with several local organizations and private landowners over the past two years to apply for the North America Wetlands Conservation Act grant. Golner said he expects the project to take two years to complete.
The partners include the San Juan Preservation Trust, San Juan County Land Bank, landowner Scott Meyers, San Juan County Conservation District, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Juan Islands School District and Friends of the San Juans. A small number of private landowners who commit to keeping the land for habitat for 25 years will have their land restored as part of the total project.
The majority of the project will include restoration or enhancement of drained palustrine emergent and forested wetland. Additionally, the project includes 1,900 hours of volunteer work for coastal riparian replanting projects, which will improve shade or forage fish spawning habitat, provide bank stabilization, and enhance overall habitat function and diversity.
Large numbers of northern pintails, mallards, and both lesser and greater scaup depend on the proposal area for wintering and migration habitat. The restoration, enhancement and protection of this wetland habitat will provide significant benefits to these species. This region supports peak populations of 500,000 ducks and 100,000 geese during the migration and wintering periods.
Mallards use the proposal wetlands as wintering, migration and breeding habitat. It is estimated that peak numbers of migrating and wintering mallards that will be counted on the specific wetlands to be conserved through this proposal will be approximately 5,000 birds. In addition, it is estimated that approximately 100 pairs of mallards will use these conserved wetlands as breeding habitat. Pintails will use proposal habitats primarily during migration and wintering periods. It is estimated that peak numbers of pintails on proposal wetlands will be approximately 2,000 to 3,000 birds after wetland restoration and enhancement activities have been completed. Greater and lesser scaup will use proposal habitats during migration and wintering periods. It is estimated that greater scaup numbers will be approximately 100 birds and peak lesser scaup numbers on proposal wetlands will be approximately 500 birds after completion of this project.
All of these population estimates represent a significant improvement over the current situation. In particular, those proposal tracts that include restoration or enhancement activities will see a dramatic increase in post project use by waterfowl. The current condition of most of these habitats is extremely poor and they receive little use by waterfowl. Upon completion of restoration and enhancement components of the proposal, waterfowl use will increase dramatically.
The geographic location of the San Juan Islands, and the diversity and spatial proximity of the wetland habitats found there, attract a huge diversity of waterfowl species. Common wintering species found in the San Juan Islands include: harlequin duck, surf scoter, white-winged scoter, red-breasted merganser, hooded merganser, common merganser, trumpeter swan, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, northern shoveler, gadwall, long-tailed duck, common goldeneye, Barrow’s goldeneye, bufflehead, ruddy duck and western Canada goose.
The restoration and protection of wetland habitats will provide significant benefits to all of these species. Many of the “puddle duck” species will benefit primarily from the restoration and enhancement of palustrine emergent marsh. The fish eating ducks will benefit from enhancement of forage fish spawning areas and restoration of semi-permanent freshwater habitats. The protection and restoration of estuarine and marine habitats will primarily benefit scoters, mergansers, the long-tailed duck, harlequin duck and diving ducks. The protection of large habitats from further encroachment by development will benefit many species, but provide particular benefits to trumpeter swans and western Canada geese. The restoration of forested wetlands and riparian edges will provide benefits to goldeneyes, buffleheads, and mergansers.
The wetland conservation benefits offered by this proposal will also provide breeding habitat to many waterfowl species. In addition to mallards, wood ducks, and ring-necked ducks mentioned previously, wetlands conserved through this proposal will provide breeding habitat t western Canada geese, gadwalls, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, northern shovelers, buffleheads, common mergansers, and hooded mergansers.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) was enacted in 1989 and provides federal cost-share funding to support the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. NAWCA is a non-regulatory, incentive-based, voluntary wildlife conservation program.
NAWCA stimulates public-private partnerships to protect, restore, and manage wetland habitats for a diversity of migratory birds and other wildlife. NAWCA partnership grants play an important role in meeting the DU mission, from restoring wetlands that have been altered, and enhancing water availability, to reducing soil erosion and the likelihood of floods. In addition, many projects provide outstanding recreational opportunities, from bird watching to hunting.
NAWCA provides challenge grants for wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Every $1 of federal money allotted to NAWCA must be matched by $1 or more from non-federal sources like Ducks Unlimited, or state fish and wildlife agencies. Because this program is so effective, funds are often tripled or quadrupled at the local level.
In Washington, D.C., the Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs staff
works with Congress in support of annual funding for NAWCA so we can continue the Act’s waterfowl conservation success. As a senior member on the Appropriations Committee, Washington’s Congressman Norm Dicks provides critical leadership in obtaining these federal funds.
To date, NAWCA has helped fund more 1,300 projects on nearly 17 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada and areas of Mexico. More than 2,000 partners, including private landowners, industry and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.
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 100,000 wetland acres each year.