DU and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) are working together to restore more than1,000 acres of waterfowl habitat on Dave Donaldson Black River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Construction should be completed by the end of summer 2020, weather permitting.
The Brookings Unit is located just north of Delaplaine on the south side of the Black River and managed for moist soil habitat. Currently, AGFC does not have an efficient way to flood the unit. Ducks Unlimited recently secured a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to support water-control infrastructure improvements. Funds will be used to install a relift pump to carry water from the Black River into the Brookings Unit, allowing AGFC to flood 215 acres as needed. Additionally, grant funds will be used to repair areas of damaged levee, install a new levee and replace numerous water-control structures to ensure that the managed wetland units function properly and efficiently.
As part of this project, AGFC will also restore 880 acres of the Brookings greentree reservoir (GTR). Years of prolonged flooding and increasingly poor drainage have negatively impacted forest health and regeneration. This work will restore lost hydrologic function in bottomland hardwood wetlands. The Brookings GTR tract is one site within a larger continuum of bottomland forest that require similar restoration. Functioning hydrology is the foundation for maintaining forest integrity and promoting red oak regeneration. Without restoration, continued forest degradation in a large portion of the WMA is expected.
The WMA spans several counties along the Black River, including Clay, Randolph and Green counties. It consists of almost 25,000 acres of predominately bottomland hardwoods with a mixture of cypress/tupelo brakes, agricultural fields and managed wetland impoundments. As a large, contiguous tract of mature bottomland hardwood forest in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Black River WMA is a critical area for wildlife dependent on this system.