Swaner Nature Preserve Restoration Project

 

The Swaner Nature Preserve at Kimball Junction.
The Swaner Nature Preserve is a unique piece of land encompassing over 750 acres near Kimball Junction, Utah.   The Preserve has a history of grazing and haying, but at the expense of some of the rarest wetland types in Utah.   A ditching and water diversion system depleted ground water and removed surface water from wet meadows and peatlands.  



The Preserve was enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program and now over 550 acres are protected in perpetuity.   Ducks Unlimited assisted the Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore the historic hydrology as well as replace some of the wetland types ( e.g. , beaver ponds) that are now scarce in the Snyderville Basin due to urban development.   The project was completed this spring and the results were immediate. Even with a six-year drought, the ground is now saturated and producing wet meadow conditions. Newly constructed impoundments produced several late duck broods and are hosting early migrant shorebirds.   An extensive revegetation effort will be undertaken this fall, and the next year should be even better for the birds.

Perhaps the most exciting component of the project was the development of several small spring-fed ponds designed specifically to provide the wetland habitat requirements for the Columbia spotted frog. This rare frog is a potential endangered species in Utah. However, an agreement between the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to perform frog-habitat conservation keeps it off the Endangered Species List.   On August 6 th 2004, Ducks Unlimited, the Swaner Nature Preserve, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Brigham Young University participated in the release of hundreds of juvenile Columbia spotted frogs in the new ponds.    Ducks Unlimited's innovative wetland conservation efforts in Utah are not only providing benefits for waterfowl, but also giving a helping hand to other wetland wildlife in need.