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WELLS, Maine – Dec. 10, 2020 – Ducks Unlimited is helping advance a widespread conservation effort in Maine, at the top of the United States’ portion of the Atlantic Flyway.
Maine’s ecosystem is considered one of the world’s most biologically productive environments, renowned for its pristine habitat and 2,000 species of plants and animals. The state has the largest undeveloped block of forest and wetland habitat east of the Mississippi River. More than 25% of Maine’s total area are wetlands, totaling two million acres. Its coast is crucial for many high priority species, including the common eider, American black duck and eastern harlequin duck.
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) is leading several programs that will enhance or protect more than 91,000 acres in the state, and Ducks Unlimited is helping on two coastal projects. “Ducks Unlimited has been an important partner for MCHT over the years and we are grateful that they are working with us on this important effort to bring federal wetlands dollars into the state,” said Betsy Ham, director of land protection for Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
Pond Cove Island
Through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant, the trust, DU and other partners are buying Pond Cove Island and transferring it to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The island will be included in the nearby Roque Bluffs State Park. Pond Cove Island features 37 acres of intertidal wetlands and is located just offshore from the state park. The property is in national priority areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds and landbirds and it will be open for kayakers and boaters to birdwatch, picnic, hike, hunt and fish. Camping will be allowed at designated campsites.
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
DU is partnering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the refuge to restore 320 acres of coastal marshes. This refuge was founded in 1966 to protect salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. Ducks Unlimited and partners will restore the tidal marsh habitat by reducing marsh sinkage caused by waterlogging and elevational gain through the restoration of a proper balance of flood and ebb flows on the marsh.
The refuge is important for black ducks and also breeding Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows. Rachel Carson NWR has been monitoring Saltmarsh Sparrows at this site since 2000 and has detected a significant decline in breeding birds, likely as a result of decreased nesting success due to nest flooding. “Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is eager to once again partner with DU to improve wildlife habitat and community resilience while providing a space for outdoor recreation,” said Bri Benvenuti, Rachel Carson NWR wildlife technician.
Support for both projects also comes from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Davis Conservation Foundation. The projects sit in the Atlantic Flyway, one of the four major migratory routes for North American birds. Healthy wetland spots such as these are vital resting and feeding areas for birds during long journeys. Ducks Unlimited has restored, protected or enhanced more than 16,000 acres in Maine alone over the last 30 years.
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 almost 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.