The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced five projects that will restore and enhance habitat for species impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. These projects will be funded through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and include a $1.25 million grant to Ducks Unlimited for conservation projects on coastal wetlands.

Part of this grant will support efforts to enhance wetland habitat and increase water availability on private lands through the Texas Prairie Wetlands Project (TPWP). A second portion of this grant will focus on providing seasonal surface water on agricultural lands in the Texas Mid-Coast and Chenier Plain to support the beleaguered Texas rice industry.

"We believe that the TPWP, with its proven track record of delivering wetland projects in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private landowners, is the ideal partnership for restoring habitat to offset coastal wetland impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," said DU Director of Conservation Programs Jerry Holden.

Having restored and enhanced more than 65,000 acres on the Texas Gulf Coast in its 20-year history, TPWP provides engineering, design, and cost sharing assistance to private landowners to restore wetlands.

In return, landowners agree to manage the habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species for a minimum of 10 years.

"Ducks Unlimited has incomparable experience and expertise in wetlands restoration," said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "Our well-established partnership has resulted in improved waterfowl habitat in Texas, and we look forward to continuing that effort to further restore Gulf Coast wetlands."

Since 95 percent of the land in Texas is privately owned, working with private landowners is essential to accomplishing habitat objectives for wintering waterfowl in this state. According to a recent Gulf Coast Joint Venture analysis, TPWP projects provide 20 percent of the available waterfowl habitat on the Texas Mid-Coast in dry years.