The Arkansas Partners Project is a cooperative effort among Ducks Unlimited, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The objective of the program is to help ducks and other waterbirds return north to their breeding areas physically conditioned for maximum reproductive success. The program offers assistance to private landowners interested in restoring wetlands and managing existing wetlands, idle areas, and agricultural fields after harvest as shallow wetland habitat. These flooded areas provide valuable forage that birds need to meet their daily energy requirements.
To meet the ever-growing demand for assistance in managing private lands, the Arkansas Partners Project was initiated in 1993. Since that time, Ducks Unlimited and its partners have restored and enhanced more than 150,000 acres of waterfowl habitat.
The Arkansas Partners Project provides assistance with wetland restoration, development, and management. Trained biologists provide private landowners and managers with:
- Technical assistance including evaluation of habitat development potential, restoration and management recommendations, and a water management plan, if needed.
- Water control structures fabricated from used steel pipe and fitted with flashboard risers.
Cooperators must sign a Wetland Development Agreement that:
- Has a minimum term of 15 years
- Limits duck hunting to half-days only
- Requires that crop fields be rolled, not disked or burned, and managed to hold water
- Requires structures to be closed and fields kept flooded through February
- Cooperators maintain water control structures for the life of the agreement
- Permits annual inspection by waterfowl biologist
Managed harvested crops
In addition to waste grain, harvested croplands provide important natural foods for ducks and shorebirds such as weed seeds and invertebrates. Shallow water makes finding these foods easier, and water 1-15 inches deep is optimal. Rice fields are especially well-suited for managing shallow water for wintering waterfowl.
Natural foods on fallow areas
Natural grassy areas are prime duck habitat when floodd due to the high quality natural foods available. The annual plants that germinate in fields that readily flood in winter and dry slowly in spring and summer provide ducks with an abundance of seeds rich in important nutrients not found in grain. When shallow water can be held on such fields throughout the fall and winter, these highly attractive foods become readily available for waterfowl.
Existing hardwood stands or forested areas with levees can be managed as green-tree reservoirs after trees go dormant and begin to drop their leaves. Shallow, variable flooding of hardwood trees in winter provides ducks with access to acorns, seeds, and invertebrates. These flooded forests also provide an important source of cover, thermal protection, and sanctuary for pair-bond formation.
For more information, contact:
Southern Region Office