The world we live in is ever-changing. This could not be more apparent in the time of COVID-19 when we are sheltering in place, washing our hands compulsively and wearing masks. Yet in a time of such uncertainty, one thing remains the same: Ducks Unlimited continues to get the job done in the name of conservation.

"The work we do hasnt changed because the mission of DU to support waterfowl and benefit people is immutable. While we closed our offices and sheltered our people, we had our field teams on the landscape delivering on our promises, said DUs Director of Operations for the Southern Region Jerry Holden. The landowners and contractors that DU works with wanted to keep moving. And because the imperative of the mission is unceasing, we rolled on.

DU recently began work on a crevasse project in Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in St. Mary Parish. The 137,000-acre WMA is owned and managed by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). The project includes the construction of three new crevasses dredged cuts through the natural banks of passes and the cleanout of several existing channels that have become shallow due to sediment build up. Creating and deepening these channels will serve as conduits to flow fresh water and sediments from the Atchafalaya River into shallow ponds and lakes mostly isolated from the river.

The additional flow of river water will increase desired habitat such as mudflats, submerged aquatic vegetation beds and emergent marsh that are great for fish and wildlife, especially ducks.

Taking sediment laden river water and diverting it into shallow water ponds causes the sediments to fall out and jump start the natural land building processes, said Cassidy Lejeune, DUs manager of conservation programs for South Louisiana. In turn, this creates opportunities for marsh grasses to take root and whole ecosystems to flourish. Fish, ducks and people are among the many beneficiaries.

As with all DU projects, the Atchafalaya project could not be done without support from state, federal and corporate partners, making the habitat work a true community effort. Project partners like Energy Transfer, LDWF, Cargill and Gulf Coast Initiative Sponsors help ensure conservation work continues.

In addition to our partners, DU relies on expert local contractors to help complete projects.

"The economic benefits of keeping projects like this moving are more critical than ever, said Jeff Mizzi of Rigid Contractors, who will do the crevasse work on the project. We hire folks, buy fuel and rent equipment, all to support DU and the state of Louisiana in helping to save our coast. Doing work like this in an economically sustainable way for our company is extremely satisfying. We can support our business and do good for the people of Louisiana."

Ducks Unlimited will always be a conservation organization that is driven and supported by volunteers, partners and local communities to provide quality habitat management and wetland restoration.

"It takes us all working together to get the job done. said Ricky Thibodaux, vice president of Berry Brothers General Contractors. Berry Brothers will complete the dredging work at the Amerada Pass for the project. From planning of the project to the actual dredging work, there are so many moving parts involved to ensure a project is completed successfully. We know working with organizations like Ducks Unlimited, they really care about the area not just from a wetlands perspective, but all of those who stand to benefit from the restoration efforts."

Completion of this project will result in approximately 1,200 enhanced acres of habitat, better boat access to the lakes and ponds for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. This work will benefit a number of popular spots for duck, deer and hog hunting on the WMA.

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