Ducks Unlimited and several partners have received initial approval on a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to protect, enhance or restore 1,675 acres of endangered wetland habitat across northern Pennsylvania. This is the first $1 million NAWCA grant for the state, and the largest single grant for DU in Pennsylvania.
The state has already lost more than half of its historic wetland resources since the late 1700s. This project would conserve high-quality nesting, stopover and wintering habitat across northern Pennsylvania.
Wetlands across northern Pennsylvania are dispersed and often small but play an incredible role in sustaining the biodiversity of the state. They support a migratory pathway for every migratory waterfowl found away from the Atlantic Coast.
The conservation efforts spread across 12 sites are possible because of $2.1 million in matching funds from numerous partners: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennvest, Lycoming County, S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, French Creek Valley Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Constant threats of development, runoff, climate change and habitat loss place
a significant burden of importance to wetlands and buffering upland habitats in the state,” said Jim Feaga, DU regional biologist in Pennsylvania. “Once habitats are affected by these threats, it is usually too expensive to restore sites, and lands that are developed are unlikely to provide future habitat for wildlife. That’s why it’s crucial we save them while we can.”
This program would add to the 30,000 acres of conservation already achieved by Ducks Unlimited and partners in Pennsylvania.
In addition to directly providing habitat for waterfowl, the work will improve storm water retention, flood abatement and ground water refilling. The projects also will increase recreational opportunities that will bring along jobs associated with ecotourism and habitat conservation. All the properties offer myriad
of outdoor recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, biking, and birdwatching. This proposal will provide ample recreation opportunities and hopefully increase the numbers of hunters and outdoors enthusiasts in the state.
Final approval of the grant is expected in spring 2021.