The history of the Northwest Wetlands at Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area seems to have been lost in time. When Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) approached Ducks Unlimited in 2013 to collaborate on this unique project, everyone was excited. Prior to the restoration, the site had six non-functioning levees.
After an initial site survey, the first objective for the partnership was to develop a plan for water management that included a new water rights application and a complex pumping system. This process took more than two years. DU installed a high capacity pump and levees. Each of the six wetland cells now have independent water management. Construction crews installed 12 water-control structures, more than 2,300 linear feet of pipe, and moved more than 18,000 cubic yards of dirt. They also installed an underground powerline and a high-capacity pump. The system is a recirculating shallow water wetland the WGFD will manage as a series of seasonal wetlands.
"Now that we have reliable water management, the site has everything it needs to produce quality wetland food resources waterfowl seek during spring and fall migration," said Tom Peterson, DU biologist. "When we filled the wetlands, green-winged teal, mallards, gadwall and trumpeter swans were quick to move in."
According to Peterson, the diversity and quantity of wetland plants will increase with the improved management capabilities and provide excellent early season fall hunting opportunities and great spring habitat.
Funding partners for the project included the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Water for Wildlife, WGFD, Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resources Trust and Ducks Unlimited donors. The project will be dedicated this year.