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Habitat Projects

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DU Contact:
Craig LeSchack
Director of Conservation Programs

South Atlantic Field Office
3896 Leeds Ave.
Charleston, SC 29405
843-745-9127
cleschack@ducks.org



LOWCOUNTRY INITIATIVE - Conservation Easements

Ducks Unlimited’s Lowcountry Initiative is a nationally important wetlands conservation and long-term management effort undertaken in Coastal South Carolina in cooperation with the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The “Initiative” contains five major focus areas – Cooper River, Santee River, ACE Basin, Winyah Bay, and Savannah Basin. These focus areas were selected for conservation first and foremost because of their outstanding ecological value. Of nearly equal importance, however, is the feasibility of protecting large acreage in its natural state.

Large privately owned plantations ranging in size from 2,000 to 52,000 acres (some dating to the 16 th century) are the primary landholdings in the focus areas. This unique situation coupled with expressions of interest form many of the landowners creates an unparalleled opportunity to achieve significant land and water protection. Nearly one million acres already are under protection. The “Initiative” seeks to conserve an additional 700,000 or more wetlands and upland primarily through agreements with private landowners. Purpose: Through the “Initiative” Ducks Unlimited has a unique opportunity to protect wetland and upland habitats using conservation easements on private lands. Ducks Unlimited’s conservation easement program accepts easements in perpetuity through its Wetlands America Trust. Such long-term protection will conserve large, undeveloped upland and wetland ecosystems for the benefit of waterbirds, other wildlife, and the threatened and endangered species that occur in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Major Habitats include salt, brackish, and tidal freshwater marshes, old rice fields, sea and barrier islands, tidal freshwater swamp forests, alluvial and blackwater rivers, bald cypress-tupelo gum swamp forest, bottomland hardwood forest, pocosin swamps, pine savannas, and upland pine-hard-wood forests. Migratory shorebirds, raptors and neotropical landbirds use this area in great numbers and up to 50 percent of all dabbling ducks in the Atlantic Flyway winter here. Accomplishments: Through May 1, 2004, Ducks Unlimited has protected 88,150 acres of wetlands and uplands habitat in the Lowcountry Initiative Area via donated conservation easements.

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BEAR ISLAND WMA
Springfield Tract - Acquisition

Purpose: To protect (through acquisition) 250 acres of brackish marsh, thus providing additional managed waterfowl habitat on Bear Island WMA. This project provides valuable foraging habitat to migrating and wintering waterfowl in the ACE Basin. Principal species include mallards, mottled ducks, Northern pintail, American wigeon, gadwall, Northern shovelers, green-winged and blue-winged teal. The area is managed by the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources. Location: Bear Island WMA is located in Colleton County, SC. Bear Island WMA is flanked by the Ashepoo River and the South Edisto River. The Springfield Tract lies in the northeastern portion of Bear Island WMA. Acres Impacted: 250 acres Habitat Types: Tidal brackish marshes and tidal brackish impoundments. Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources Ducks Unlimited, Inc. Timeline: Acquisition was completed in fall 1994.

BEAR ISLAND WMA Cut Unit - Acquisition

Purpose: To protect (through acquisition) 966 acres of brackish marsh, thus providing additional managed waterfowl habitat on Bear Island WMA. This project provides valuable foraging habitat to migrating and wintering waterfowl in the ACE Basin. Principal species include mallards, mottled ducks, Northern pintail, American wigeon, gadwall, Northern shovelers and green-winged and blue-winged teal. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to provide quality foraging habitat for wintering waterfowl. Location: Bear Island WMA is located in Colleton County, SC and flanked by the Ashepoo River and the South Edisto River. The Cut Unit lies in the northeastern portion of Bear Island WMA.

Acres Impacted: 966 acres
Habitat Types: Tidal brackish marshes and tidal brackish impoundments
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Acquisition was initiated in 1989 and completed in fall 1993

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FANTS GROVE WMA
Beaverdam Creek Project

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to create 66 acres of wintering waterfowl habitat on Fants Grove WMA by constructing a dike along Beaverdam Creek and installing a water control structure to facilitate water level management. Subsequent to the original construction, a wellhead was established to provide a dependable source of water during fall and winter months. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources and provides excellent habitat for wood ducks, mallards, and Canada geese.

Location: The project is located in Anderson County along Beaverdam Creek near Townville, SC.

Acres Impacted: 66 acres
Habitat Types: Flooded Agricultural Crops
Moist-soil Vegetation
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: The project was completed in spring 1991

FANTS GROVE WMA
Clemson Waterfowl Impoundment

Purpose: To develop a waterfowl management impoundment (17 acres) on Fants Grove WMA from an existing agricultural field. This project will help demonstrate to local farmers how to integrate waterfowl management practices with an agricultural operation. The project includes construction of a dike along Eighteen Mile Creek and installation of one water control structure. Planted annuals may include corn, grain sorghum, rice or Japanese millet and may be harvested prior to flooding or flooded as standing crops. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to benefit wintering waterfowl.

Location: The project is located in Anderson County, southwest of US Highway 76 along Eighteen Mile Creek and approximately 2 miles from Pendleton, SC.

Acres Impacted: 17 acres
Habitat Types: Flooded Agricultural Crops
Moist-Soil Plants
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
Clemson University
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: The project was initiated in 1991 and completed in spring 1992

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DONNELLEY WMA
Savage Backwater Restoration

Purpose: To restore management capability (300 acres) on an existing freshwater impoundment within Donnelley WMA by replacing one non-functional water control structure, installing an additional structure and excavating 15,000' of existing internal ditches. Improved management will result in a floating pad plant community and submersed aquatic vegetation attractive to wood ducks and ring-necked ducks. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.

Location: The project is located on Donnelley WMA in Colleton County approximately 7.2 miles south of Green Pond, SC. The project is part of the Old Chehaw River watershed.

Acres Impacted: 300 acres
Habitat Types: Semi-permanent freshwater wetland
Floating pad and submersed aquatic plant community
Partners: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction was initiated in 2001 and completed in fall 2002

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FRANCIS MARION NATIONAL FOREST
Little Hellhole Reserve

Purpose: To replace an outdated and non-functional spillway structure with a modern full-round aluminum water control structure to facilitate management of a freshwater wetland on Francis Marion National Forest. The new structure will allow for water level manipulations to promote a combination of flooded agricultural crops and/or natural moist-soil plant production to attract wintering waterfowl. Other wildlife receiving benefits from this project include wading birds, shorebirds and raptors. The area is managed by the USDA Forest Service and South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.

Location: The project is located on the Witherbee District of the Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County approximately 3 miles northeast of Cordesville, SC.

Acres Impacted: 17 acres
Habitat Types: Moist-soil Wetlands
Flooded Agricultural Crops (e.g. rice, Japanese millet, or corn)
Partners: USDA Forest Service
North American Wetlands Conservation Council
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction was completed in spring 2004

FRANCIS MARION NATIONAL FOREST
North Tibwin Units

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to restore management potential on existing tidal and non-tidal wetland impoundments (107 acres) by replacing outdated water control structures, cleaning of internal ditches and reconfiguration of dikes to facilitate water circulation and water level management. These improvements allow for more intensive management of individual impoundments within the wetlands complex. Blue-winged teal, mottled ducks, American wigeon, gadwall, northern shovelers and hooded mergansers will be attracted to this project area, as well as, wading birds, shorebirds, neotropical migrant songbirds and raptors. The area is managed by USDA Forest Service and South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to provide quality wetlands habitat for wintering waterfowl.

Location: The project is located in Charleston County approximately 3 miles southwest of McClellanville, SC

Acres Impacted: 107 acres
Habitat Types: Tidal Brackish Impoundments
Natural Moist-soil Vegetation
Flooded Agricultural Crops
Partners: USDA Forest Service
SC Department of Natural Resources
Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction on North Tibwin was completed in summer 1999

FRANCIS MARION NATIONAL FOREST
South Tibwin Units

Purpose: To restore 60 acres of tidal marsh and moist-soil impoundments on Francis Marion National Forest through replacement of water control structures, cleaning of internal ditches and renovation of dikes to facilitate water circulation and water level management. These improvements allow for more intensive management of individual impoundments within the wetlands complex. This project will benefit many species of waterfowl including blue-winged teal, mottled ducks, American wigeon, gadwall, and northern shovelers. The area is managed by USDA Forest Service and South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to provide quality wetlands habitat for wintering waterfowl. Location: The project is located in Charleston County approximately 3 miles southwest of McClellanville, SC

Acres Impacted: 60 acres
Habitat Types: Tidal Brackish Impoundments
Natural Moist-soil Vegetation
Flooded Agricultural Crops
Partners: USDA Forest Service
SC Department of Natural Resources
Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction on South Tibwin was completed in fall 1998

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SANTEE NWR Cuddo Unit

Purpose: To restore water management capabilities on 320 acres within a managed wetlands complex on Santee NWR by installing three new aluminum flashboard risers. The managed wetlands provide valuable foraging habitat for wintering ducks including mallards, green-winged teal, wigeon, and gadwall. The area is managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is critical to waterfowl utilizing the Santee Cooper Lakes system.

Location: The project is located on Santee NWR in Clarendon County approximately 9 miles southeast of Summerton, SC.

Acres Impacted: 320 acres
Habitat Types: Green-tree Reservoir
Moist-Soil Vegetation
Flooded Agricultural Crops
Partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction was completed in fall 2000

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MANCHESTER STATE FOREST
Beidler GTR Restoration Project

Purpose: To improve management capabilities on 270 acres of green-tree reservoir habitat on Manchester State Forest through replacement of six existing water control structures that are non-functional. These structures can be manipulated to completely draw down the area during the growing season and reflood in late fall, thus providing foraging habitat to dabbling ducks. Wood ducks and mallards are expected to use this area in large numbers. The project is managed by the South Carolina Forestry Commission to provide quality habitat for wintering ducks.

Location: The project is located on Manchester State Forest in Sumter County approximately 6.5 miles south of Wedgefield, SC.

Acres Impacted: 270 acres
Habitat Types: Bottomland hardwoods
Partners: South Carolina Forestry Commission Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction was completed in spring 2002

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RUSSELL CREEK WMA
Wetlands Enhancement

Purpose: To enhance 25 acres of moist-soil habitat on low-lying areas adjacent to Russell Creek through construction of 4,550 feet of dikes and installation of 5 water control structures. Mast-producing hardwoods were not removed from the resulting impoundments. Portions of the impoundments are planted annually and flooded in the fall to attract wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese and ring-necked ducks. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to provide quality wetlands habitat for migratory waterfowl. Location: The project is located in McCormick County approximately 4 miles west of Mt. Carmel, SC. Russell Creek is a tributary of Lake Strom Thurmond.

Acres Impacted: 25 acres
Habitat Types: Moist-soil Plant Production
Flooded Agricultural Crops
Partners: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: The project was completed in the fall of 2000
Intensive management was initiated in spring 2001

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SANTEE COASTAL RESERVE
Cape Unit Restoration Project

Purpose: To restore 536 acres of tidal marsh on Santee Coastal Reserve through renovation of existing dike. Approximately 35,000 feet of dike will be raised to prevent flooding from the adjacent Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway caused by high tides, storm surges and boat wakes. The site is dominated by coastal marsh vegetation, with wigeon grass and saltmarsh bulrush providing the majority of natural waterfowl foods. Mallards, mottled ducks, American wigeon, green-winged teal, Northern shoveler and gadwall will benefit most from this project. The area is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.

Location: The project is located at Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston County approximately 7.5 miles northeast of McClellanville, SC along the South Santee River and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Acres Impacted: 536 acres
Habitat Types: Tidal brackish/saline marshes
Tidal brackish impoundments
Partners: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: The project was completed in early summer 2000

SANTEE COASTAL RESERVE
Big Well Enhancement Project

Purpose: To provide optimum management capability on an existing tidal impoundment totaling 152 acres through construction of internal crossdikes, installation of spillway structures and installation of additional ricefield trunks for flooding and draining. The exterior dikes have fallen blow grade due to subsidence and must be raised to facilitate effective management. Subdividing the interior of the impoundment into five cells and the installation of additional water control structures will improve management capability and enhance the project for wetland dependent wildlife species. Principal waterfowl species include mallards, mottled ducks, Northern pintail, American wigeon, gadwall, Northern shovelers and green-winged teal.

Location: The project is located on the Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston County approximately 7.5 miles northeast of McClellanville, SC along the South Santee River. Acres Impacted: 152 acres

Habitat Types: Tidal brackish/sal
ine marshes
Tidal brackish impoundments
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Construction was completed in summer 2001

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Wee Tee Bottoms State Forest
Wetlands Acquisition

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to provide financial assistance in conjunction with other conservation partners for the acquisition of a large block of contiguous uplands and forested wetlands along the Santee River. The acquisition of bottomland hardwoods (12,449 acres) provides valuable foraging habitat to migrating and wintering waterfowl near the Santee River. Wood duck utilization is normally high year-round and exceptionally high when bottomland hardwoods forests are flooded. Swallow-tailed kites use this area for roosting and foraging. In addition, a large variety of neotropical migrant songbirds will use bottomland hardwoods during the breeding season. Public benefits include protection of water quality for fish, wildlife and downstream marine resources, as well as, recreation for fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing and birdwatching. The area will be managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.

Location: Approximately 12 miles southwest of Andrews, SC (Williamsburg County).

Acres Impacted: 12,449 acres
Habitat Types: Bottomland Hardwoods / Baldcypress-Tupelo Brakes (11,667 acres)
Pine-Mixed Hardwoods (772 acres)
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
National Wild Turkey Federation The Conservation Fund U.S. Forest Service SC Forestry Commission North American Wetlands Conservation Act Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Acquisition was completed in the spring of 2003

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SAMWORTH WMA
Young Tract - Acquisition

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to protect 327 acres of tidal freshwater marsh. Acquisition of this property further enhanced wetland management capabilities on Samworth WMA. The property is located in an important wintering area for wood ducks, mallards, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal and Northern shovelers. Samworth WMA is managed by South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources to provide quality foraging habitat for numerous waterfowl species.

Location: The project is located on Samworth WMA in Georgetown County approximately 10 miles northeast of Georgetown, SC (along the Great Pee Dee River).

Acres Impacted: 327 acres
Habitat Types: Tidal freshwater marshes
Tidal emergent moist-soil impoundments
Partners: SC Department of Natural Resources
North American Wetlands Conservation Council Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Timeline: Acquisition was completed in spring 1996

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