GLARO Priority Areas

DU conservation priorities in the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region

GLARO Priority Areas map Northwest Wisconsin Eastern Wisconsin Rock River Illinois River Ohio/Mississippi Confluence Southeast Lake Michigan Saginaw Bay Lake Erie Ohio Rivers Lake Ontario Potomac Upper Chesapeake Lower Chesapeake Lower Susquehanna Delaware Bay New York Bight New England

How We Chose the Priority Areas

Through science-based strategic planning, the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office (GLARO) has defined landscape initiative areas based on large-scale watersheds. This allows us to address waterfowl and wildlife habitat issues as well as water quality concerns that are important to this region. Within these initiatives,we have defined priority areas in which to target our restoration activities. These priority areas are represented on the map above.

Navigating the Map

Please click on a colored area of the map above to see more information about GLARO's priority areas (listed below). Placing your mouse over the area will reveal its name.

States and Projects

To see where exactly GLARO's working, please visit our Projects by State page.

For a printable version of this information or more detailed information about our projects, our Resource Library is a great place to start.


Delaware Bay

Overview

The Delaware Bay is one of the most important wintering areas in North America and is a major link in the migratory chain that stretches from South America to Canada along the Atlantic Flyway. In the Delaware Bay watershed, land-use conversion and land management practices have resulted in widespread loss, fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitat, and deterioration of the quality of water entering the bay. Coastal and riverine marshes within this priority area have been ditched extensively for mosquito control and degraded by roadways and railway lines. The Delaware Bay priority area falls within DU's Atlantic Coast Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The conservation focus is on habitat restoration and improvements in the lower watershed as well as coastal marshes and key sub-watersheds that influence water quality in the bay. Conservation efforts will concentrate on restoring wetland hydrology to sites by plugging drainage ditches, recreating open water habitat, constructing low-level berms, creating shallow excavated areas and installing water control structures. Riparian upland buffers will be restored to native grasses, trees, shrubs and other habitat components.

Waterfowl Benefits

Management of restored emergent wetlands within this watershed will benefit migrating and wintering green-winged teal, American black ducks, mallards and northern pintails. Breeding and nesting habitat will increase as wetlands and grassed and forested wetland buffers are restored. Further, Canada geese, snow geese and tundra swans will use the protected fields and restored wetlands as wintering habitat. Water quality in the bay will be improved by restoring wetlands and uplands across the watershed. These conservation practices will eventually contribute to the restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation beds throughout the bay.

Implementation

2,372 acres per year (11,860 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $1,968,763

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Eastern Wisconsin

Overview

This priority area in southeastern Wisconsin spans an area historically characterized by a glaciated mosaic of wetlands surrounded by tall grass prairie and oak savanna. Agriculture and development are the dominant activities resulting in a substantial reduction of small pothole wetlands and of the original prairie that covered much of the area prior to settlement. Eastern Wisconsin is important for both breeding and migrating waterfowl. This area supports the highest breeding density of waterfowl in the state. The Eastern Wisconsin priority area falls within DU's Great Lakes Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The protection and restoration of grass and wetland complexes will increase breeding propensity as well as improve production. Coastal habitat restoration and protection is primarily for spring and fall migratory waterfowl, although breeding birds will also benefit from these restoration projects. Conservation work in the Eastern Wisconsin priority area is designed to target migrating and breeding waterfowl. Projects focused on migratory waterfowl are generally completed on large public lands and are currently managed primarily for fall migrants. Active management focusing on spring waterfowl is limited, although the capacity is present and the need is evident. Many areas are managed for dual life cycle uses (breeding and migration).

Waterfowl Benefits

Conservation activities directly benefit 22 migratory waterfowl species by providing critical habitat for their life cycle. This area supports the highest breeding density of waterfowl in the state. The predominant breeding species include mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal, but also include northern pintails, American black ducks, redheads and canvasbacks. Projects focused on migratory waterfowl are generally completed on large public lands and are currently managed primarily for fall migrants.

Implementation

7,935 acres per year (39,675 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $3,137,948

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Illinois River

Overview

The Illinois River valley is a critical migration corridor. The basin drains 28,500 square miles and is home to more than 11 million people. Less than 1 percent of the native prairie there remains. Human alterations of the landscape have made the Illinois River the most degraded and threatened segment of the Upper Mississippi River system: less than 50 percent of the original floodplain habitat remains and nearly all of the 500,000-acre Grand Kankakee Marsh has disappeared. Despite these declines, 25 percent of all ducks in the Mississippi Flyway still use the Illinois River as a migratory corridor. The upper tributaries are used by breeding waterfowl as well. The Illinois River priority area falls within DU's Upper Mississippi Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Most waterfowl habitat occurs in the middle and lower reaches of the Illinois River, so conservation activities have been concentrated in these areas. DU's approach in the middle reaches has been to "fill in the corridor" by attempting to provide habitat along the expanse of the river for dabbling and diving ducks. These activities primarily have been acquisition followed by restoration designed for fall-migrating dabbling ducks. There is a great need to do habitat work for diving ducks in both spring and fall. Private land work exists all along the river, generally via enhancement of existing marshes with the addition of new management capability. Restoring ecological integrity to the system is the overall focus of restoration and protection work in this area for both breeding and wintering/staging waterfowl.

Waterfowl Benefits

The Illinois River priority area meets several life-cycle needs of waterfowl: predominantly breeding in the upper watershed around Lake Michigan and wintering and migration habitat in the middle and lower watershed. The production area spans Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Mallards, wood ducks and Canada geese are the primary nesting species.

Implementation

19,364 acres per year (96,820 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $10,528,867

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Lake Erie

Overview

The Lake Erie watershed is the glacial lake plain that roughly encompasses the geographic boundary of the Great Black Swamp (northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana and southeastern Michigan), northeastern Ohio and Lake St. Clair, and includes small pieces of Pennsylvania and New York. In the late 1800s, construction of dikes and ditches along the lakeshore to facilitate conversion to agriculture and other forms of development resulted in the drainage of many coastal marshes. These practices continue today and impact not only wetland habitat, but also water quantity and quality. Urban sprawl and industrial development, especially near Toledo, Cleveland and Detroit, and along the lakeshore, are significant threats to wildlife habitat and continue to fragment remaining natural communities. The Lake Erie priority area falls within DU's Great Lakes Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Given the continued threat from sprawl and development, programs in this area focus on the long-term protection of important and threatened wetland habitat, primarily for migratory birds. Programs also focus on the acquisition of existing or restorable coastal habitat for inclusion into state or federal wildlife areas.

Waterfowl Benefits

Located at the crossroads of the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, this area serves as a primary migratory corridor for important species including American black ducks, Southern James Bay Population Canada geese, greater and lesser scaup, canvasbacks, mallards and other neotropical migratory birds. Remnants of the Great Black Swamp, including inland-forested, riverine, emergent and depressional wetlands and associated uplands, provide valuable habitat for breeding waterfowl, primarily mallards, wood ducks and American black ducks.

Implementation

21,193 acres per year (105,968 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $21,944,932

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Lake Ontario

Overview

The Lake Ontario watershed encompasses the low-lying lakeplain habitat of New York and is an important breeding area for mallards, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, American black ducks and Canada geese. Historically, this area was dominated by a forested ecosystem with extensive coastal marshes. The area has lost approximately 70 percent of its wetland base, primarily due to agriculture and urbanization. Urban sprawl continues to increase. Point and non-point source pollution from agriculture and industry have degraded water quality seriously in some areas. The three areas of concentration within the priority area are: the St. Lawrence Valley area, the Montezuma Wetland Complex and the Tonawanda-Iroquois-Oak Orchard Complex. The Lake Ontario priority area falls within DU's Great Lakes Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The focus in the St. Lawrence area is to restore wetland complexes and secure grassland habitat. In the Montezuma Wetland Complex, Ducks Unlimited will restore and protect areas containing muckland soils to reduce habitat fragmentation and increase the quality and quantity of wetlands on the landscape. Opportunities to restore wetlands and wetland buffers on adjacent private property within the Tonawanda-Iroquois-Oak Orchard Complex exist, which would improve water quality, reduce habitat fragmentation and increase waterfowl habitat in and around the complex.

Waterfowl Benefits

The three areas within the Lake Ontario priority area benefit several kinds of waterfowl. The St. Lawrence area is an important breeding area for mallards, blue-winged teal and Canada geese. It is one of the most important migratory corridors for American black ducks, as well as scaup, canvasbacks and Canada geese. The lake and the river are major fall staging areas for many species of divers and sea ducks, including scaup, redheads and buffleheads. Inland areas provide critical spring migration habitat in the form of temporary sheetwater. The Montezuma Wetland Complex is an important staging area within the Atlantic Flyway that attracts as many as 1 million ducks and geese during spring and fall migration. And last, the Tonawanda-Iroquois-Oak Orchard Complex serves as a staging and migration area for more than 250,000 waterfowl annually. This area also supports significant wood duck and mallard production. High-quality emergent wetlands provide migration and production habitat for many declining marsh bird species.

Implementation

3,802 acres per year (19,010 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $2,363,835

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Lower Chesapeake

Overview

The Lower Chesapeake Bay priority area encompasses the eastern and western shores of Virginia along with three major rivers. The James River is Virginia's largest river and drains approximately 25 percent of Virginia's land base, is the third largest tributary to the Bay and contributes more non-point source pollution to the Bay than any other tidewater river. Due to the high levels of nutrients, submergent aquatic vegetation production in its tidal waters has decreased significantly. The York River has been one of the fastest growing tributary basins in terms of population, but drains only 6 percent of the land use. Despite that growth, the land use is predominantly rural, with 70 percent of the watershed in forest, 20 percent in agriculture and only 10 percent in urban use. The Rappahannock River watershed drains approximately 6 percent of the land base and predominantly consists of forests or forested wetlands (60 percent) and agriculture (28 percent), with little urban development. The Lower Chesapeake priority area falls within DU's Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

All three tidewater rivers contribute non-point source pollution to the Bay. Conservation efforts will focus on reducing agricultural nutrient and sediment runoff by restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, riparian buffers and warm season grasses, which provide breeding, wintering and spring staging habitat for waterfowl. The overriding objective on the western shore of the Lower Chesapeake is to develop a program specific to the priority area needs of waterfowl. Programs on the eastern shore of the Lower Chesapeake are well developed and focus on private lands.

Waterfowl Benefits

The watershed is important to Atlantic Flyway waterfowl. Its brackish and freshwater marshes provide wintering habitat for AP Canada geese, mallards and American black ducks. Its tidal waters provide important wintering habitat for canvasbacks, buffleheads and sea ducks (mainly surf scoters). The lower Rappahannock River and its tributaries provide important migrating and wintering habitat for several priority waterfowl species, including American black ducks, mallards and wood ducks. The watershed also contains a high percentage of the state's tidal freshwater and brackish marshes, providing wintering habitat for AP Canada geese, canvasbacks, buffleheads and sea ducks.

Implementation

868 acres per year (4,340 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $1,075,104

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Lower Susquehanna

Overview

The Susquehanna River is the largest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the source of the most freshwater and the largest single source of nutrients to the Bay. This area accounts for only 25 percent of Pennsylvania lands, but 46 percent of all farms, 65 percent of the agricultural industry and 55 percent of all highly erodible cropland in the state. The Lower Susquehanna priority area falls within DU's Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The focus of restoration activities in this watershed is on agricultural lands, primarily on restoring marginally wet pastures for breeding and spring staging, and secondarily on promoting restoration of riparian buffers. Restoration of larger tracts of public land will complement work on private lands to provide a mosaic of critical migrating and wintering habitat. Efforts will be focused on delivering wetland and riparian restoration projects using techniques such as breaking tile drains, constructing low-level berms and ditch plugs and planting native trees and warm season grasses.

Waterfowl Benefits

This area is extremely important to migratory waterfowl, and increasingly more important to waterfowl production in the Atlantic Flyway. The freshwater marshes support nesting wood ducks, mallards and American black ducks. This area is also important to wintering and migrating greater snow geese, AP Canada geese, tundra swans and American black ducks.

Implementation

554 acres per year (2,770 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $1,902,157

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New England

Overview

The New England priority area encompasses parts of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and southern Maine, and is characterized by an extensive chain of estuarine bays. Coastal New England has undergone remarkable human population growth and massive urban coastline development that has resulted in dramatic declines in living resources and the large-scale loss and degradation of marine, estuarine and freshwater habitats. In the North Atlantic, only half of the original marshes remain, but many of the remaining marshes have great potential to be restored to more productive systems. The New England priority area falls within DU's Atlantic Coast Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The current habitat program focus is on enhancement of existing wetlands by restoring hydrology that had been altered significantly through extensive ditching for mosquito control. Additionally, restoration focuses on restoring tidal hydrology to wetlands that had been altered by roadways and railway lines.

Waterfowl Benefits

The restoration of saltmarsh and open-water habitat, such as deeper pools and shallow pannes, provides protective and productive foraging areas for waterfowl, game fish, baitfish and migrating shorebirds and wading birds. The American black duck, in particular, depends heavily on salt marshes and tidal flats for feeding and resting during migration and wintering. During migration, greater scaup, Atlantic brant, Canada geese and buffleheads occur in high numbers in saltmarsh habitat.

Implementation

3,800 acres per year (19,000 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $6,761,993

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New York Bight

Overview

The Bight extends from Cape May, N.J., to Montauk Point, Long Island. This priority area encompasses the lower Hudson River watershed, coastal New Jersey and Long Island. Long Island and the bay shores of New Jersey have been ditched extensively for mosquito control and are heavily urbanized and industrialized. The Hudson River-New York Bight area also is heavily industrialized and subject to extreme social and economic pressure. Along the Atlantic Flyway, the Bight is an important pathway for migratory birds, providing coastal and north-south corridors that channel birds through the region. At least 75 percent of the historic wetlands in the area have disappeared due to filling, alteration of shorelines, dredging and coastal development. The New York Bight priority area falls within DU's Atlantic Coast Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

On Long Island, restoration efforts are evolving from ditch plugging to a form of integrated marsh management. This approach emphasizes restoring hydrology with multiple approaches to improve degraded marsh systems, food resources and habitat for waterfowl and other coastal marsh-dependent species. In New Jersey, coastal marshes are relatively healthy. In addition to providing migratory and wintering habitat, New Jersey coastal areas may also be important for breeding mallards and American black ducks. The coastal marshes of New Jersey have great potential to impact significant numbers of waterfowl and other birds. The final segment of the New York Bight priority area, the Hudson River Valley, has an established Estuary Plan. The potential for restoration and impact on large numbers of waterfowl is limited along the river corridor. However, potential does exist off river in the upland areas where private lands wetland restoration is possible.

Waterfowl Benefits

Remaining wetlands are critical to protect and restore because many species depend on these habitats. Priority species using this area include northern pintails, American black ducks, mallards, lesser and greater scaup, least and semi-palmated sandpiper, Louisiana water thrush and the salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrow.

Implementation

3,626 acres per year (18,130 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $3,007,249

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Northwest Wisconsin

Overview

The Northwest Wisconsin priority area historically was dominated by pothole-type wetlands. However, agriculture and urban development have caused substantial wetland loss, fragmented grasslands and increased sediment and nutrient loading to streams and rivers. At present, human population growth poses the greatest threat to existing habitat because this is the fastest-growing area of the state. The Northwest Wisconsin priority area falls within DU's Upper Mississippi Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The conservation focus in Northwest Wisconsin is on protecting and restoring small seasonal wetlands, re-establishing native prairie adjacent to wetlands for nesting habitat and expanding existing state and federal wildlife areas. The primary emphasis in the Northwest Wisconsin priority area is on breeding habitat, though some migration habitat opportunities exist along the Mississippi River.

Waterfowl Benefits

This area of Wisconsin supports relatively high densities of breeding waterfowl, particularly mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal. It also provides important staging areas for 22 species of ducks, including canvasbacks, lesser and greater scaup, blue-winged teal and American wigeon. Protected and restored wetlands and surrounding uplands will provide not only waterfowl nesting habitat, but also habitat for threatened and endangered species; improve water quality; control flooding and provide public recreation benefits.

Implementation

914 acres per year (4,570 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $909,848

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Ohio/Mississippi Confluence

Overview

This priority area encompasses parts of the lower Ohio, Wabash, Kaskaskia-Meramec and Middle Mississippi River watersheds. Nearly one-third of the nation's waters drain past the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. This area is dominated by floodplain and bottomland hardwood forest habitat associated with large river systems. Much of this bottomland habitat was converted to agriculture. Wetland loss in this area has been extreme; approximately 90 percent have been altered by human activities. Flooding and associated sedimentation have caused extensive damage to the backwater areas, replacing mast-producing trees with willow and cottonwood, and degrading managed moist soil areas. The Ohio/Mississippi Confluence priority area falls within DU's Upper Mississippi Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Conservation activities in the area mostly involve reforesting seasonally flooded bottomlands. In Indiana, most work has been on public lands. This type of work will continue in the future as opportunities arise. In Illinois, conservation activities are similar, with an emphasis on the Middle Mississippi River—an 'open' reach of the river with no dams stretching from the confluence of the Missouri River to the confluence of the Ohio River. DU is actively involved in acquisition and restoration efforts here. The focus of the restoration program in this area is on migration and wintering waterfowl habitat, including seasonal wetlands and reforestation/protection of bottomland hardwood forest habitat.

Waterfowl Benefits

The expansive floodplains of these river systems provide a diversity of wetland habitat, including temporarily and seasonally flooded bottomland hardwoods that serve as traditional migration and wintering habitat for a wide variety of waterfowl, including mallards, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, northern pintails, American wigeon, canvasbacks, scaup, Canada geese and snow geese. Wood ducks are common breeders, but mallard breeding is limited except for scattered pockets with high numbers along the lower Wabash drainage.

Implementation

2,851 acres per year (14,255 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $4,267,972

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Ohio Rivers

Overview

This priority area encompasses the watersheds of the Greater Miami, Scioto and Muskingum rivers in central and southern Ohio. Very little of the Scioto River, which flows through Columbus, remains unaltered. Channelization and the practice of removing trees and streamside vegetation, in addition to agricultural and urbanization impacts, have resulted in water quality concerns throughout the drainage basin. The Greater Miami watershed, in which Dayton is the largest city, is dominated by agricultural land use, and 25 percent of the streams do not meet aquatic life standards. The Muskingum River originally was dominated by forest, but now is impacted heavily by agriculture. In these watersheds, agricultural practices and urbanization continue to impact the river systems and the greatest impairment is non-point source pollution. The Ohio Rivers priority area falls within DU's Upper Mississippi Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Ducks Unlimited is developing the opportunities for conservation programs within this priority area. The potential for restoration work and collaborative efforts need to be explored, but the focus of the program will be on spring-staging and wintering waterfowl.

Waterfowl Benefits

This area supports breeding wood ducks, mallards and Canada geese, but is primarily important for wintering/staging waterfowl, such as mallards, American black ducks and scaup.

Implementation

500 acres per year (2,500 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $709,379

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Potomac

Overview

The Potomac River watershed includes Washington, D.C., and counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It drains over 15,000 square miles, contributes 20 percent of the freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay and is the second largest contributor of nutrients from agricultural runoff. Within the Potomac priority area, there are two areas of concentration: the upper reaches and the lower reaches of the watershed. The Potomac priority area falls within DU's Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

The upper reaches are characterized by an agriculture-based landscape with gradient issues that lend themselves to private lands programs, which focus on classic riparian work and wetland restoration where possible. In this part of the watershed, habitat work indirectly affects waterfowl via water quality in the Bay, improving submergent aquatic vegetation for diving ducks. In the lower reaches, conservation activities directly affect habitat for staging and wintering waterfowl. Several approaches are possible: target restoration of small freshwater wetlands on both public and private lands and develop management regimes on old impoundments designed for fall migrants to meet the needs of spring migrants. Protection of key tracts of land will benefit waterfowl habitat and water quality throughout the watershed. The majority of efforts focus on the lower reaches. The restoration focus in this watershed is to increase wetland function in the lower portion of the watershed and to maintain current riparian restoration efforts in the upper reaches.

Waterfowl Benefits

Restoration of palustrine emergent and forested wetlands also will benefit water quality. Restoration in the lower reaches will benefit breeding waterfowl, primarily mallards, as well as enhance wintering and migratory habitat for mallards, American black ducks, canvasbacks, scaup and other diving ducks. In the upper reaches, nesting American black ducks, wood ducks and mallards will benefit from the increase in palustrine emergent and forested wetlands. Breeding and migrating populations of wood ducks will utilize restored wetlands and riparian areas as well.

Implementation

217 acres per year (1,085 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $1,256,897

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Rock River

Overview

The Rock River watershed originates in Horicon Marsh, Wis., and joins the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Ill. Land use in the majority of the watershed is either livestock operations or crop production. These activities negatively affect the water quality of rivers, streams and lakes in the watershed. Approximately 90 percent of the wetlands in the Illinois portion of this watershed have been ditched, drained or altered. The Rock River priority area falls within DU's Upper Mississippi Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Ducks Unlimited has been developing opportunities for conservation work within this priority area. Along the Mississippi River, restoration and protection opportunities likely exist for migration habitat, mostly inside protective levees. In the upper reaches of the watershed in Illinois' Boone, DeKalb and McHenry counties, opportunities for restoration of breeding habitat are possible, but not yet developed. Additional background work is needed to develop a program specific to the priority area needs for waterfowl.

Waterfowl Benefits

This priority area includes an important reach of the Mississippi River from Whiteside County south to the confluence of the Illinois River, in which locks and dams create "pools" and important wetland habitat along their shallow margins and backwater lakes.

Historically, the area between Burlington, Iowa, and Keokuk, Ill., served as an important migration site for lesser scaup, canvasbacks and other diving ducks.

Implementation

2,859 acres per year (14,295 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $2,621,471

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Saginaw Bay

Overview

A unique habitat feature of the Great Lakes region is the coastal marshes and lake plain surrounding Saginaw Bay. The 18,000 acres of coastal wetlands associated with the bay make up one of the largest remaining freshwater coastal marsh systems in the nation. The 22-county watershed supports more than 30 plant and animal species on the federal threatened and endangered list, as well as significant populations of breeding and migrating waterfowl and hundreds of other fish and wildlife species. Saginaw Bay and its watershed are an important resource base for commercial fishing, tourism and recreation, as well as being a major agricultural and industrial area.

The Saginaw Bay watershed historically contained some of Michigan's most extensive wetlands, but settlement and intensive agricultural development have led to the loss of more than 50 percent of these wetlands. Wetland losses in coastal counties exceed 90 percent. In addition, agriculture and other development have led to the drainage or degradation of most Great Lakes coastal marsh.

The once-extensive complex of wetland and upland habitats is found only as disconnected remnants today. Habitat destruction in the Saginaw Bay watershed has reached a critical level. The Saginaw Bay priority area falls within DU's Great Lakes Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Conservation work is focused on the protection and restoration of Great Lakes coastal marshes and their associated habitats, expansion of existing state and federal wildlife areas with the restoration of newly acquired lands and restoration and enhancement of small wetlands and associated uplands important for waterfowl production on private lands. Conservation activities in the Saginaw Bay priority area are concentrated primarily on migration habitat, and secondarily on production habitat.

Migration habitat work has been focused on large complexes along the coast and major river systems, primarily on public lands. Many projects on public lands were completed more than 40 years ago and are in need of infrastructure repair and structural improvements in order to maintain wetland values and management potential. Active management of natural marsh habitat will help meet the needs of both spring and fall waterfowl using these areas. Acquisition of new lands will create additional opportunities for wetland restoration in coastal and riverine systems.

Waterfowl Benefits

More than 3 million waterfowl annually migrate though the Great Lakes area. Several species of waterfowl and other priority species will benefit from conservation activities within Saginaw Bay. Southern James Bay Population Canada geese, northern pintails, American black ducks, mallards, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks and greater and lesser scaup are common migrants through the area and will benefit from restoration designed to increase food supply, especially during spring. Production habitat projects will benefit primarily mallards and wood ducks, and occasionally American black ducks and blue-winged teal.

Implementation

4,456 acres per year (22,280 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $3,818,678

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Southeast Lake Michigan

Overview

The lower portion of the Lake Michigan watershed is one of the fastest-growing and most urbanized regions in the Great Lakes basin. Agriculture and urban development dominate the landscape and have resulted in drained wetlands, fragmented forests and increased sedimentation and nutrient loading in lakes and streams. Habitat fragmentation has hindered attempts to restore large blocks within this watershed, though potential exists to restore small wetlands and establish native prairie, especially on private lands. The Southeast Lake Michigan priority area falls within DU's Great Lakes Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Current efforts in this region are focused in the Grand River watershed, but will be expanded to cover the entire area in the future. Restoration of wetlands, particularly small emergent wetlands with a mix of open water and vegetation, and re-establishment of native prairie plant communities associated with existing or restored wetlands, are the conservation focus in this watershed. Restoration techniques include removing drain tiles, plugging drainage ditches and installing low-level dikes and water control structures to restore hydrology.

Waterfowl Benefits

Restoration will benefit breeding mallards, wood ducks and potentially American black ducks. Targeted wetland projects also will provide quality feeding sites for spring migrants, such as northern pintails, lesser and greater scaup, mallards, ring-necked ducks and Mississippi Valley Population Canada geese. This area supports some of the highest breeding densities of mallards and wood ducks in Michigan.

Implementation

2,639 acres per year (13,195 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $1,875,764

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Upper Chesapeake

Overview

The Upper Chesapeake Bay watershed spans both the western shore of the upper Chesapeake Bay and the eastern shores of Maryland and Delaware. Ninety-five percent of this area is rural, consisting of either agriculture or forested lands. The coastal saltmarsh areas contain some of the largest remaining submergent aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds in the Chesapeake Bay. One of the most pronounced and reversible causes of saltmarsh habitat loss and degradation was the draining of wetlands through parallel grid-ditching systems. Between 1930 and 1940, 90 percent of the coastal marshes from Maine to Virginia were ditched or drained. The lack of stable water levels decimated tracts of SAV, altered the aquatic invertebrate communities, lowered groundwater tables and ultimately destroyed marsh habitat essential to various wetland-dependent birds. The Upper Chesapeake priority area falls within DU's Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Initiative.

Conservation Work

Conservation efforts in the Upper Chesapeake Bay priority area will focus primarily on wintering and spring migration habitat, and secondarily on breeding habitat needs. Ninety percent of the conservation activities will be focused on the eastern shore, where a strong private lands program is in place. Currently, activities focus on managed moist soil and upland cover restoration. Restoration plans in this priority area are to restore grid-ditched high-marsh habitat. Ditches can be filled to restore the natural tidal influence and hence the high marsh will be inundated during spring and storm tides. This will encourage reestablishment of endemic plant communities and shallow saltmarsh pools and pannes. Protection of key tracts of land will benefit wildlife habitat and water quality throughout the watershed. On the western shore north of the Patuxent River, conservation work will target wetlands and grass restoration in a 1:1 ratio.

Waterfowl Benefits

This area is the primary wintering ground for Atlantic Population Canada geese, and a major area for American black ducks, mallards, northern pintails, American wigeon, gadwalls, green-winged teal, snow geese and Atlantic brant. The Delmarva Peninsula also supports the last remaining population of wintering redheads on the Bay. In addition to providing important wintering habitat, the area also supports breeding populations of mallards, wood ducks, American black ducks, gadwalls and blue-winged teal.

Implementation

2,348 acres per year (11,740 over a five-year period)
Estimated five-year cost: $2,092,937

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