Ducks Unlimited received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund for land protection efforts in American black duck priority areas of Maryland and Virginia.

The grant is tied to the Black Duck Decision Support Tool, a strategy developed by DU, the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, and the Black Duck Joint Venture over the last decade. The tool guides certain East Coast conservation efforts to have the greatest impact on American black duck populations, a species that has experienced a nearly 50 percent population decrease since 1950. The support tool offers insight into current habitat availability and projected future habitat conditions based on sea level rise and urban development.

The tool enables Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Atlantic Coast Joint Venture to work with local land trusts to identify and prioritize land most valuable for black duck habitat. Those properties ranking highest in black duck habitat and resiliency will receive grant funds for permanent protection.

The grant will permanently protect at least 300 acres, but likely more than 1,000 acres.

Also partnering on the project is the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Lower Shore Land Trust, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.