Ducks Unlimited and a coalition of partners have completed wetland restoration and enhancement efforts on vital wetland habitat associated with the Salton Sea in Southern California. This project area is located in one of the most arid parts of North America, yet contains some of the continent's most important and threatened wetland habitats.

"Ducks Unlimited and our partners developed this project based on the critical state of this region's wetland habitats, its high value to waterfowl and many other birds, and its connection to previously completed conservation projects," said DU project biologist Derek Mynear. "Annually, this area supports roughly 50 percent of the Pacific Flyway population of ruddy ducks, and many other species that concentrate in and around the Salton Sea."

North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant and nonfederal matching funds were used to deliver conservation work on the privately owned Sunrise Marsh duck club and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. Previous wetland restoration projects in this region have been completed along the Lower Colorado River, including the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve in California and the Imperial and Cibola national wildlife refuges in Arizona. DU will complete work at Piute Ponds, located on Edwards Air Force Base northeast of Los Angeles, during summer 2014.

Conservation objectives for this latest NAWCA project included restoration, enhancement, and protection of seasonal and semipermanent wetlands and associated upland and riparian habitat. Invasive salt cedar and phragmites were removed to increase habitat diversity and improve water-delivery efficiency, and earthmoving equipment was used to restore wetland basins, swales, and associated embankments to impound water. New water-control structures were installed to maintain optimal water depths for a variety of waterfowl and to provide water conveyance between wetlands. In the future, native grass and tree species will be planted to restore upland and riparian habitat, strengthen wetland embankments, and provide cover for wildlife.

In addition to improving habitat for waterfowl, this project will also benefit myriad other wildlife, including shorebirds, wading birds, songbirds, raptors, reptiles, and amphibians. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities, such as fishing, wildlife viewing, and waterfowl hunting. DU's partners in this effort include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, a private landowner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.