Critical Texas waterfowl habitat gets a boost

DU awarded $1.5 million NAWCA grant for wetlands restoration in coastal Texas

© Jerry Holden

RICHMOND, TEXAS – May 7, 2021 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) was recently awarded a $1.5 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to support restoration work in the Chenier Plain Initiative Area of the Gulf Coast Joint Venture. The restoration work will take place on McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.

The NAWCA grant will be combined with $3 million in matching funds from the Texas General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will contribute $1,712,250 to support the Star Lake Marsh and Shoreline Protection project on McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge.

This region is the winter destination for 52% of the Central Flyway’s waterfowl population, hosting ducks and geese from major breeding locations across North America. The restoration work will improve and sustain multiple habitats that support foraging, roosting, pair bonding, nesting, rearing of young and molting for multiple species of wetland-dependent birds. The federal and state lands also provide public access for outdoor recreation activities.

“Since NAWCA’s inception, it has been one of America’s most effective conservation programs,” said Dr. Todd Merendino, regional manager of DU conservation programs in Texas. “The impact of this funding, combined with the non-federal matching funds it leverages, will make a tremendous difference in restoring critical wetland habitat in coastal Texas. I’m proud of the work DU has done at the federal level to make this funding available and we’re excited to continue working with our partners to restore crucial wetlands on the Gulf Coast.”

The Star Lake Marsh and Shoreline Protection project will enhance and protect 3,477 acres of fresh, intermediate and brackish wetlands and other critical habitat at McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent private land in Jefferson County. Work will include the construction of approximately 1.4 miles of rock breakwater along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). The breakwater structure will protect wetlands located on the project site, enhancing critical habitats on public lands. Repair and rehabilitation work on portions of Star Lake and the Perkins Levee will help prevent shoreline erosion along the GIWW and improve critical habitat in the Star Lake Marsh system.

Grant funds will also support work on J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County. Work on the project will enhance 1,002 acres of managed wetlands on the property through the removal of accumulated sediment and will also improve the ability water level management.

“Jefferson County appreciates Ducks Unlimited for keeping the momentum going to restore Texas' largest coastal marsh located here in the Chenier Plain,” said Jefferson County Judge Jeff R. Branick, longtime DU volunteer and member of the Coastal Coordination Advisory Committee. “Hats off to DU, Texas General Land Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Department of Interior for finding creative solutions to conserve our marsh vegetation, soils and the right fresh and saltwater hydrology.”

The public will receive significant benefits as a result of the NAWCA supported work, as projects are located on federal and state lands open to the public for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking and education. Enhancement activities proposed will improve habitats for migratory and resident birds and marine fisheries important to local commercial and recreational interests. Additional benefits include increased or improved water quality, flood water storage capacity and will also provide natural buffers against storm surge.

For more information visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to follow DU’s news Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.

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 more than 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.

Media Contact:

Emily Austin

601-206-5438

eaustin@ducks.org

@DUSouthernNews

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