DU has been working with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for several years to restore management capacity and infrastructure on Delta National Forest. Delta National Forest is approximately 60,000 acres in Sharkey County, Mississippi, and was established in 1955. Delta National Forest consist entirely of bottomland hardwood forest with stands varying in age from regeneration areas to mature forests. Being one of the largest remaining contiguous tracts of mature bottomland hardwood forest in the Mississippi Delta and the only national forest composed entirely of bottomland hardwoods, Delta National Forest is a critical area for wildlife dependent on this ecosystem.
In the National Forest, there are five Green Tree Reservoirs (GTRs) that are rotationally flooded with rainfall. The USFS manages about 10,000 acres of forested wetland habitat primarily for wintering waterfowl annually. All the GTRs area open to public waterfowl hunting. All five were constructed around 1980 with corrugated metal pipes. After nearly 40 years, most of the pipes are in very poor condition, limiting water management capabilities.
DU recently worked with the USFS to identify the highest priority structures for replacement. The first project focused on Long Bayou GTR and was completed in 2018. The main water-control structure was replaced and the area was reconnected to Long Bayou to provide for a natural and reliable source of water in the GTR. Partners on the project and the related North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant included the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Mississippi Land Trust, DU and the USFS.