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Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area: Providing Food for Ducks Through Habitat Conservation

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Fishing Bay is the largest parcel of publicly owned tidal wetlands in Maryland, as well as the state's largest wildlife management area (WMA). The coastal salt marsh is the predominant estuarine wetland type in the Chesapeake Bay, and it serves as one of the most biologically significant and productive ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic region. Waterfowl commonly seen at Fishing Bay include mallards, American black ducks, green-winged teals, gadwalls, Northern pintails, greater and lesser scaups, and Canada geese. Many species of shorebirds can be seen or heard, including the secretive black rail.

“The project area is located within high marsh, which historically would be inundated during spring and storm high tides, retaining water and maintaining function in the 400 acres of pools and pannes,” said Jonas Davis, DU regional biologist. “Due to a channelization project many years ago to allow boat access to the open marsh, the pools and pannes became subject to daily tides, negatively impacting the function and vegetation community—ultimately resulting in the loss of an important food source for wintering and migrating waterfowl.”

That food source was primarily submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Not only do SAVs provide high-quality forage for ducks, they also produce oxygen, filter and trap sediment, absorb excess nutrients, and provide habitat for numerous other wildlife species.

In partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, DU is currently plugging the channelized canal, restoring the natural hydrology, and recreating habitat historically found in Fishing Bay by reestablishing productive, shallow marsh ponds for SAV growth on the 400-acre high-marsh tract. Restoration work was completed in early December 2006, in time for the spring growing season for SAVs.

Funding for the project was made possible through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Small Watershed Grants Program.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States 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.


Contact: Kelli Alfano,
Public Affairs Coordinator
(734) 623-2000 or kalfano@ducks.org


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