New York Projects

Click one of the stars on the map below to read more about the state's featured projects. Or click the names of the color-coded Priority Areas in the key to learn more about GLARO's conservation focus. The blue dots represent one or more conservation projects on which DU has worked. Project information comes from annual state Conservation Reports, available in our Resource Library.

New York by the Numbers (as of 01/01/10)

  • Total acres conserved: 39,876
  • Technical assistance acres: 53,388
  • Amount spent on projects: $17,374,665

You can find additional statistics on New York's state fact sheet.

 New York projects map Lake Erie Lake Ontario Delaware Bay New England New York Bight Lower Susquehanna Phinney Restoration NAWCA Grants Montezuma WCR Wertheim Phragmites Spraying

Meet New York's Conservation Staff

Ray Whittemore
Director of Conservation Programs


Doug Gorby
Regional Biologist

Ray Whittemore

Conservation in St. Lawrence Valley

Phinney, wetland restoration project located near Clayton, N.Y.

This project required the construction of three low berms, averaging 300 feet in length, resulting in three separate pools of emergent marsh. Each pool is different in shape, with significant edge habitats providing for a diversity of plant and animal communities. Islands were created within each impoundment, ranging from six inches above normal water level to 12 inches below normal water level. These islands will provide loafing areas and cover for broods as well as habitat for other wildlife. One pool is designed to provide habitat attractive to shorebirds during their migration in the spring and fall. In addition, four potholes were excavated in a back field too flat for berm building. The shallow water of the potholes will be the first to thaw in the spring, providing areas for early-migrating waterfowl and shorebirds to find microinvertebrates, an important source of protein for restoring depleted energy supplies and building reserves for nesting hens.

All told, approximately 25 acres of emergent marsh have been restored, providing staging habitat for spring- and fall-migrating waterfowl, as well as nesting hens and their broods. Funding for the work came from the St. Lawrence Valley Phase I NAWCA grant. The impoundments were slow to begin filling due to a dry summer, but they are near capacity now and are looking great.

Phinney restoration
Contractors work on the berm for the upper pool at the Phinney site.

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NAWCA grants play critical role in funding conservation programs in DU's priority habitats in New York

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant program has played a critical role in the expansion and success of Ducks Unlimited's habitat programs across North America. Several good examples can be found right here in New York. NAWCA funds have played a pivotal role in our restoration, enhancement and protection efforts in three key waterfowl areas of New York: the St. Lawrence Valley to the north, the Montezuma Wetland Complex in the central part of the state and the Oak Orchard-Iroquois-Tonawanda complex in the west. This year, Ducks Unlimited and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will look to NAWCA again to help fund the continuing effort to restore farmed mucklands on the Montezuma Wetlands Complex (MWC), a state/federal wildlife management area that sees more than a million waterfowl during the fall migration.

A $1.2 million match was needed for this grant; for every dollar requested, DU must show $2 of activity in the area. DEC funds used to purchase easements and properties within the MWC are eligible match, as is money spent on DEC restoration projects. DU, The Nature Conservancy, The Audubon Society, Friends of Montezuma, Pheasants Forever and the Vanderbilt Marsh Club also will provide match. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are supporting the grant as well.

Montezuma Wetland Complex
Hundreds of acres of wetland habitat that can be restored as muck fields are retired from crop production.

Obtainable goals and a realistic budget are critical grant components. If the proposal calls for restoring 300 wetland acres, that goal must be realized. Estimating project costs is difficult but needs to be accurate. This isn't easy, especially with muck soil projects.

A typical berm is made of clay soils. Impoundments within the MWC often consist of muck. Clays often are absent or are too deep to economically excavate for berms. Muck impoundments have wider tops, with minimum side slopes of 6:1, resulting in a wider base. They require more material, adding to the cost. These oversized structures must withstand water pressure as well as deter potential damage from muskrat.

Ducks Unlimited will administer the NAWCA grant and oversee project delivery. This includes conducting site surveys, developing restoration plans, collecting bids, selecting contractors and managing site work. This is a huge undertaking but well worth the effort because of the benefits it will provide for generations to come.

DU and its partners look forward to seeing restored habitat resulting from this NAWCA grant. It will contribute greatly to our mission while leaving a legacy for all to enjoy. We also hope it motivates future generations to continue the legacy, ensuring the skies always will be filled with waterfowl.

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Wertheim NWR Phragmites control

Last year DU received several grants from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to eradicate Phragmites in the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located near Shirley, in Suffolk County, Long Island. Work was completed this past fall, after a second herbicide spray of a 62-acre area along the Carmans River, within the refuge. The long-term goal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to remove Phragmites-dominated stands from the refuge and reestablish plant species of high value to native fish and wildlife.

In early 2006, the refuge completed Phase I of the project by restoring an 86-acre salt marsh once dominated by Phragmites. The project involved filling ditches created to control mosquitoes and recreating a series of tidal creeks, pools and pannes to increase tidal flow to the marsh. This technique, known as integrated marsh management, seeks to restore a more natural hydrologic cycle on the marsh, which will provide other important ecological services such as energy transfer, fish and wildlife habitat and reestablishment of natural plant communities.

Phase II included the eradication and control of Phragmites using herbicides and mowing. Two applications of herbicide are usually necessary for effective control. Mowing can help to reduce re-sprouting and control weakened plants that may have survived. Once the bulk of the Phragmites cover is removed, native plants have a chance of germinating and reestablishing. The first herbicide application was completed in September 2006. The second and final treatment was completed in September 2007. Thanks to funding provided by the Invasive Species Eradication Grant program of the DEC, formerly unattractive habitat is being transformed into valuable wetlands for waterfowl and other wildlife on Long Island, an area crucial to wintering American black ducks.

Wertheim NWR Phragmites spraying
Manual herbicide application to control Phragmites.

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