In the summer of 2010, as the Deepwater Horizon disaster poured oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Ducks Unlimited, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joined forces to provide alternative habitat for the millions of migratory birds that would soon wing their way to the Gulf Coast.
DU'S GULF COAST CONSERVATION FOCUS
- DU and partners are working to restore, enhance and protect the region's remaining coastal wetlands.
- Encourage active management on private land through extensions and technical assistance efforts.
- DU has provided $15 million to restore wetlands in coastal Louisiana
- DU also seeks to maintain a viable rice agriculture industry along the Gulf Coast
The oil leaking into the Gulf presented an immediate environmental disaster that further compounded the long-term crisis of the disappearing coast. Recognizing that the rice prairies of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas were the perfect location to address both the long-term and oil spill issues, DU worked with the NFWF and private landowners to deliver habitat through the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. This initiative provides fall, winter and spring flooding of interior coastal rice agricultural and other wetlands for waterfowl, water birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife whose habitats were at risk from the spill.
DU's original goal was to provide 20,000 acres of wetland habitat on lands along the Gulf Coast. Through the partnerships with NRCS and NFWF, DU was able to enhance more than 80,000 acres of shallow harvested rice fields, idle rice fields and other wetlands that provide foraging habitat for a variety of bird species.
While the MBHI was initially developed to provide alternative habitat after the oil spill, this program is also alleviating some of the long-term loss of foraging habitats in coastal wetlands. Based on the program's success, DU is now working to secure funding for a similar conservation program in coastal Louisiana and Texas to ensure that desired populations of waterfowl can continue to winter in this continentally significant area.