MARION, Ohio – May 5, 2010 – Ducks Unlimited members, staff, and partners will gather at Big Island Wildlife Area, west of Marion, Ohio, to dedicate one of the largest wetland and prairie ecosystem restorations in Ohio. The event will take place Saturday, May 8, at 10:30 a.m.
Speakers at the event will include representatives from project partners, DU and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The Big Island Wetland/Prairie Ecosystem Restoration Project began in 1995 with the restoration of a 382-acre wetland. The two organizations, along with other partners, secured funds from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore a 2,766-acre wetland and prairie complex in the headwaters of the Scioto River watershed. A series of additional partnerships during the next decade and a focus on intensive habitat management have resulted in the "gold standard" wetland/prairie restoration in Ohio.
"It is an honor to acknowledge this unique, long-term project and the partnerships that made it possible, and to demonstrate the effect of DU conservation dollars at work in Ohio," said Roy Kroll, DU manager of conservation programs. "This dedication also allows us to recognize the support and dedication of Ohio's DU volunteers, members and donors, who have contributed their time, talents and funds to make a difference for conservation."
The restoration is part of the 5,722-acre Big Island Wildlife Area within the former Sandusky Plains, one of the largest wetland prairies that existed in Ohio at the time of settlement. However, most of the once-expansive tall-grass prairie was drained and converted to intensive agricultural use, which continued until the ODNR, Division of Wildlife began purchasing land for the wildlife area in 1958. Since then, the ODNR, Division of Wildlife has restored and managed the area in natural habitat types including wet prairie, tall-grass prairie, emergent wetland and woodland, supplemented by agricultural food plots for wildlife.
The result has benefited a wide variety of wildlife, especially nesting waterfowl and other grassland-nesting birds. Big Island is now known as a premier public duck-hunting site and bird-watching area in Ohio.
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 more than 12 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.