At the eastern foot of the towering Ruby Mountains lies the expansive Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), one of the most significant wetland areas in Nevada and the Intermountain West region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identifies Ruby Lake as hosting the densest concentration of nesting canvasbacks in the world and supports 15 other species of waterfowl.

An aging water management infrastructure in the South Marsh has encouraged extensive overgrowth of bulrush. While this plant is typically considered beneficial, too much of it crowds out diving duck nest sites and brood rearing habitat. Ducks Unlimited is assisting the refuge to combat this problem. A generous donation of 900 gallons of Touchdown Pro herbicide from Syngenta was made possible by Ducks Unlimited's partnership with CropLife America.

Loading the chopper.
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The project will restore a mosaic of open water interspersed with stands of hardstem bulrush within the South Marsh and North Marsh areas. In 2006, approximately 800 acres of bulrush in the South Marsh and approximately 200 acres of cattail in the North Marsh were treated with chemical herbicide via rotor-winged aircraft. The majority of the spraying occurred in the Open Zone of the South Marsh to not only improve habitat, but to also improve public access to the marsh for hunting and fishing. The results will not be seen until the late spring 2007 when the marsh begins to green-up.

Application in perfect conditions.
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The vegetation control component is part of a larger project to improve water management on the entire Ruby Lake NWR. Ducks Unlimited has received project funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) small grants program, the Intermountain West Joint Venture Cost-Share grant program, Wildlife and Habitat Improvement in Nevada, and the Nevada Waterfowl Association.

CropLife America and Ducks Unlimited, Inc., are partnering in a novel Wildlife Conservation-Technology Initiative. The goal of this five-year initiative is to expand the use of plant science technology in the restoration and management of habitat for the benefit of North American waterfowl and other wildlife. By contributing herbicides, fungicides and technical assistance, the member companies of CropLife America are working with Ducks Unlimited to manage invasive weeds and enhance natural habitat in key waterfowl landscapes across the U. S.