Work Begins On Texas Coast Restoration Project

Ducks Unlimited, partners to restore more than 6,000 acres

RICHMOND, Texas – May 4, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited recently began restoration work supported by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to enhance 6,841 acres of wetland habitat along the Texas coast. Partners contributed more than $2.8 million to match the $1 million received from the federal grant.

"This project represents a continuation of long-term efforts to protect, restore and enhance important wetland habitats in the Gulf Coast Prairies," DU Manager of Conservation Programs for Texas, Todd Merendino, said. "The Texas Gulf Coast has experienced tremendous losses of wetlands due to urban and commercial development pressures, reduction of rice acreage, altered local and regional hydrology and saltwater intrusion."

The project will help ensure that the Texas Gulf Coast continues to be one of the most important wintering and migration habitats in North America for continental populations of waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent migratory birds.

Through the project, partners are restoring and enhancing 3,500 acres of wetland habitats on private lands. Three donated conservation easements permanently protect nearly 2,000 acres of important coastal prairie wetlands and rice fields, and represent the first of many partner-driven land protection efforts in the near future. Grant funds also will be used to enhance 1,200 acres of emergent marsh within Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

"Like all of our projects, the partners involved in the Texas Gulf Coast restoration project make it possible," Merendino said.

The partnership combines conservation easement donations from Mr. William (Bill) Oehmig with fish and wildlife management capabilities of state (Texas Parks & Wildlife Department - TPWD) and federal (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – USFWS) agencies, and the wetland restoration expertise of Ducks Unlimited. In addition, the partnership includes financial support from the Futch Foundation, which has made a long-term commitment to supporting wetlands conservation on the Texas Gulf Coast to improve the plight of the Northern Pintail.

To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,800 wetland projects on 24 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada and areas in Mexico. NAWCA projects have conserved more than 135,000 acres in Texas. Thousands of partners, including private landowners, corporations and state governments have work together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization, having conserved over 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – natures' most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

Andi Cooper
601.206.5463
acooper@ducks.org