ANNAPOLIS, Md. – April 16, 2010 – Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to restore approximately 343 acres in the largest block of contiguous forest on the Delmarva Peninsula, known as Delaware's Great Cypress Swamp. This is the second phase of its long-term rehabilitation in which partners will restore wetlands that encourage the re-establishment of bald cypress and Atlantic white cedar trees in this unique environment. The improved hydrology will also provide breeding, migrating and wintering habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife.
"This NAWCA grant provides funds that will expand an ongoing and successful conservation program in the Great Cypress Swamp," said Kurt Anderson, DU biologist for Delaware. "DU and its partners recognize the uniqueness of this ecosystem and its inherent value to wildlife. Our ideas have garnered tremendous interest, and we are excited about building upon our efforts in the future."
Ducks Unlimited has partnered with Delaware Wild Lands, who owns and manages more than 10,000 acres in the Great Cypress Swamp; the Center for the Inland Bays; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Delaware Bay Estuary Project and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to receive matching NAWCA funds.
The Delmarva Peninsula, which includes Delaware and portions of Maryland and Virginia, is one of the most ecologically significant areas in the Mid-Atlantic region. Unfortunately, much of its landscape is being supplanted by urban expansion. More than 54 percent of Delaware's wetlands have been ditched, drained or otherwise destroyed. The loss of wetlands, which act as natural filters for sedimentation and surface runoff, has contributed to a steep decline in water quality, wildlife habitat and other ecological services of the Chesapeake, Delaware and Inland Bays watersheds.
The Great Cypress Swamp–Phase II Restoration will restore approximately 343 acres of wetlands by reestablishing natural hydrology. The natural variability of the restored hydrology will increase wetland diversity. Most importantly, however, the Phase II project will facilitate the re-establishment of historically widespread bald cypress and Atlantic white cedar wetland communities.
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.