Georgetown, S.C., Jan. 14, 2021 –The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded a $1 million National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for wetland restoration on the Lower Middleton complex at Samworth Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Georgetown County. The grant was completed and submitted through a partnership between Ducks Unlimited (DU) and SCDNR.
DU and SCDNR have a longstanding partnership in South Carolina, together conserving more than 53,000 acres of upland and wetland habitat through fee acquisitions and wetlands restoration and enhancement projects that benefit wildlife and the public.
“The restoration of the Lower Middleton complex represents a major step forward in restoration of total management capability of the managed wetlands at Samworth. The project complements the restoration of the Rabbit Island unit and planned work on the adjacent Upper Middleton complex, as well as the extensive restoration and maintenance work conducted by our Upper Coastal Waterfowl Project staff at Samworth,” said Emily Cope, deputy director of wildlife and freshwater fisheries for SCDNR. “We are grateful to Ducks Unlimited, Open Space Institute and Audubon South Carolina for their support in making the project a reality.”
Improvements include installation of four tidal rice trunks, which have been used to manage water levels along the South Carolina coast for more than 300 years. Historically, these were used by rice planters as a way to flood and drain rice fields. Today, the trunks are used by wetland managers as a conservation tool to enhance habitats for foraging birds, waterfowl and fish.
Additional project improvements include interior canal restoration, re-topping of perimeter dikes and constructing an interior setback dike and enhancement of berms in eroded areas. This project will also improve habitat for other game and non-game species including wading birds, shorebirds, reptiles and amphibians. Construction is expected to begin in February, and once completed, the Samworth WMA Lower Middleton project will provide enhanced public hunting opportunities.
The Lower Middleton complex was extensively damaged in the historic flood of 2015 and a succession of hurricanes that resulted in the breaching of the dikes and significant erosion. The grant, along with $895,215 in matching funds from Ducks Unlimited, SCDNR, Open Space Institute and Audubon South Carolina will allow for the restoration of management capabilities on 270 acres of managed tidal wetlands. SCDNR will be responsible for ongoing maintenance and management of wetland habitat.
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved almost 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.