ST. LOUIS – Sept. 21, 2016 – Waterfowl, wildlife and people will benefit from more than 2,300 acres of Ducks Unlimited conservation projects across Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky.
Ducks Unlimited and 20 partners were awarded a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grant to conserve 2,300 acres of wetlands in the confluence of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Work will be concentrated in southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky.
With $2.87 million in matching funds from DU and its partners, the total project investment will be $3.87 million.
The effort will begin this spring and last for three years. Projects will protect, restore or enhance wetlands on public and private land in a 32-county focus area. The project area offers crucial protection for waterfowl in the confluence of the largest river corridors in the Midwest.
DU and its conservation partners will permanently protect 751 acres of forested, emergent and scrub-shrub wetlands, restore water to an additional 1,282 acres and enhance 300 acres of existing degraded wetlands.
"It’s the next step in our long-range conservation vision is for this region,” said Mike Sertle, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist. “These habitats are increasingly important for migration and wintering waterfowl and we need to provide the kind of landscape they need."
The wetland projects are in areas highly impacted by humans. During the late 1800s and through the 1900s, the area was ditched, drained, timbered, cleared, burned, farmed and grazed. An estimated 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost and losses continue annually.
More than 60 percent of the land will be open to public access. Residents and outdoors enthusiasts can use the land for hiking, birding, camping, fishing and hunting. Primary locations include the Shawnee National Forest and Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri, and Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area in Kentucky.
- Enhance 134 acres at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.
- Restore 80 acres of former farmland through the Missouri Agriculture Wetland Initiative.
- Permanently protect the 394-acre Over and Under Duck Club through conservation easement.
- Reforest 610 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge.
- Acquire 57-acre private land tract for inclusion into Shawnee National Forest.
- Restore 129 acres and enhance 192 acres of wetlands within Oakwood Bottoms area of Shawnee National Forest.
- Restore 16 acres of hardwood wetland habitat at Doug Travis Wildlife Management Area to provide habitat for various species of waterfowl and migratory birds.
This effort builds on decades of conservation work in the confluence region. Ducks Unlimited used prior NAWCA grants and private donations to conserve more than 35,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitat.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.8 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.