FORT WAYNE, Indiana – April 1, 2021 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) and numerous partners protected, enhanced or restored 678 acres of wetland and grassland habitat on seven Indiana project sites in 2020, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.
The milestones in 2020 were achieved with field staff taking extra precautions and using creative solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, and at a time when Indiana’s state-protected wetlands face unprecedented threats in the legislature. The acres conserved added to a sizeable historical investment in Indiana. Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has completed more than 600 projects which conserved nearly 33,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing more than $19 million in wetland habitats.
Numerous partners contributed to the projects, with federal funding from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and the Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Restoration Act.
To be successful, voluntary wetlands conservation efforts from DU and other groups rely on state and federal protections which prevent further habitat loss. Senate Bill 389 would eliminate Indiana’s isolated wetland protection program. The state’s wetland protection program is structured to conserve the state’s wetlands not otherwise protected by section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act. If this legislation is passed in its current form, hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands would be at risk of unmitigated draining and filling. The bill was approved by the Senate and now awaits debate in the House.
“Nearly 90% of Indiana’s wetlands have been lost due to human development,” said Dane Cramer, DU regional biologist for Indiana. “Our landscape-level conservation efforts help more than ducks. Wetlands benefit local residents by reducing flooding risk, improving water quality and boosting the economy.”
Highlights from 2020 include
- Steuben County – The 400-acre Cedar Swamp Wetland Conservation Area got a big fix that will keep a beloved wetland productive for future generations of waterfowl and nature lovers. DU and several partners engineered and installed infrastructure needed for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to properly maintain water levels.
- Newton County – The 9,956-acre Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area includes nearly 1,200 acres of managed emergent marshes, forested wetlands, open water habitats, upland habitats and at its center, the 1,000-acre J.C. Murphey Lake. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and DU will be starting three restoration projects here this year that will improve 330 acres.
- Jackson County – Ducks Unlimited is using license plate sales to help fund the restoration and enhancement of two wetlands in Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest. The effort is a partnership between DU, the National Wild Tukey Federation and the U.S. Forest Service. Construction will begin this summer on two wetlands near Houston resulting in 19 acres of improved habitat, increased wetland acreage, improved water-level management and wetland productivity.
For a complete report of 2020 activities and a look into what’s planned for 2021 and beyond, see the Indiana's Conservation Report and visit http://www.ducks.org/Indiana.
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 15 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.