The Hollowtree Wetland Enhancement Project, Phase III is the third phase of a four-phase project to restore and enhance seasonal and semipermanent wetland habitat in the Grasslands Ecological Area of Merced County, Calif. This project enhanced water use efficiency and moist soil management, and it expanded wetland habitat diversity on this property.
Leaking water control structures and overall insufficient water control were prohibiting optimum wetland management of waterfowl habitat. Undesirable vegetation expanded and overtook more ideal waterfowl forage, such as swamp Timothy and watergrass. In the summer of 2004, enhancement activities began on the club's water delivery system, which feeds into approximately 200 acres of wetlands. Concrete weirs and screwgates replaced two dilapidated water control structures, and new swales were excavated to allow for better drainage and water conveyance during wetland management activities. The spoil material removed from swale excavation was used to strengthen existing levees and create waterfowl loafing islands in deeper ponds.
This project was made possible from funding through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which is administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and the Hollowtree Land & Cattle Company. Engineering services were provided by the NRCS engineer, and project management was carried out by DU regional biologist Chris Hildebrandt.