The Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge encompasses some 6 miles of very fertile bottomland habitat along the Wallkill River in north Jersey. Interestingly this river flows northward, starting in the New Jersey Highlands Region and eventually dumping into the Hudson River near Kingston, New York. Its flood plain is typically one half to one mile wide and contains some of the richest soils in all of the state. Agricultural practices have recently favored sod, vegetables such as onions, or corn. In 1990 Congress established the refuge with its first landholdings and the USFWS has been actively adding acreage and restoring these agricultural acres into wildlife habitats ever since. Approximately 99% of these lands lie in New Jersey so it seems curious that the first DU project was in New York. But this does provide the prototype for a great partnership now to be expanded. Last year DU completed dike work and water control structures on five moist soil impoundment cells on the New York side. Three are north of Oil City Road, two south and all now provide excellent viewing opportunities to watch waterfowl during both spring and fall migration.

Continuing that successful track record, contractors broke ground on April 15 for two somewhat larger moist soil cells within NJ. Partnering in with DU and the USFWS this time will be the New Jersey Duck Stamp Committee, which is providing partial funding for this project in the amount of $22,000. DU was also successful in receiving a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant in the amount of $32,000 for this project. Work is currently underway to restore dike closest to the river, install a large water control structure and sculpt the major ditch that will transport water both into and out of this major cell. Work is expect to be complete in the next two months making this project ready to welcome an array of fall migrants later this year.