Ducks Unlimited conservation staff completed work on a 500-acre marsh restoration project on the Willow Lake Unit of McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. Willow and Barnett Lakes are two natural lakes that have experienced significant hydrological changes from canals and channels constructed in the 1900s. These manmade features have transformed the lakes from productive fresh and intermediate marshes to brackish and salt-marsh habitats that do not provide optimal forage for waterfowl and other wildlife, and have limited productivity as fish nurseries. Due to increased salinity, the plant communities-especially submerged aquatic vegetation, an important food source for waterfowl-have been greatly impacted within the system.

Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) partnered to construct approximately 20,000 linear feet of earthen terraces within a portion of Willow Lake where marsh vegetation has been lost. The terraces will reduce shoreline erosion, restore marsh vegetation, increase the productivity potential of coastal fisheries andsubmerged aquatic vegetation, provide potential nesting locations for various bird species, and increase shoreline-to-water transition areas for juvenile fish species.DU staff also designed and installed a low-crested weir within a tidal channel to reduce the inflow of saltwater to restore fresh and intermediate salinity levels within the marsh.

DU provided professional services including engineering, contracting, and construction oversight on this project. Funding was provided by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program through the Texas General Land Office and USFWS.