April 5, 2016 – Ducks Unlimited will help Illinois and Indiana combat climate change effects on habitat with a $250,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Adaptation Fund, a program made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The grant pays for the restoration, enhancement and improvement of 1,225 acres of bottomland forest and wetland habitat. Partners include the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Friends of the Cache River Watershed.
Ducks Unlimited will use the grant to implement adaptive conservation strategies to counter the effects of climate change on bottomland hardwood habitats in the Central Hardwood Region of Southern Illinois and Southwest Indiana.
Projects are under way in the following locations:
- Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois – reforestation
- Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, Indiana – reforestation and wetland restoration
- Shawnee National Forest, Illinois – Brushy Bayou enhancement and Oakwood Bottoms timber stand improvements
The projects' goal is to make wet bottomland hardwood forests along rivers more resilient to flooding, which is expected to increase because of climate change. Ducks Unlimited biologists will plant trees more resilient to flooding and install control structures to better manage rapidly changing water levels, which can overwhelm wetlands vital to waterfowl.
"The potential impacts of climate change have become a growing concern among waterfowl conservationists," said Eric Schenck, manager of conservation programs for Illinois and Indiana. "This grant allows us to address problems we are seeing today, such as flooding intensity, as well as prepare for impacts that we anticipate in the future, such as shifts in waterfowl migration."
As climates continue to warm, Ducks Unlimited is paying attention to shifts in waterfowl migration. Ducks and geese in the winter don't need to travel as far south in the United States to find warm weather. So biologists are focusing on providing wintering and feeding habitats in regions such as Illinois and Indiana.
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 13.6 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.