The eastern shore of Maryland is a vitally important migration corridor for the wintering and migrating waterfowl of North America. Ducks travel from as far as western Alaska to utilize the resources available on the Delmarva and Chesapeake Bay. The loss of freshwater wetland habitat along coastal areas of the Bay has mirrored the 70-80 percent historic decline in wintering and migrating waterfowl to the Mid-Atlantic. Freshwater wetlands adjacent to coastal marsh are vitally important to species such as the declining American black duck. Black ducks frequent freshwater wetlands in coastal zones as roosting, resting and feeding sites during salt marsh low tides.
The Upper Choptank Project near Templeville in northern Queen Anne's County restored 11 acres of multi-functioning wetland habitat for Delmarva waterfowl. The project occurred on a marginal agricultural field where a man-made ditch that drained the field and adjacent forest was plugged, thus restoring the hydrology to the system. A low-level cross-berm was formed to capture runoff along the marginal cropland edge and adjacent forestland. The project now provides shallow water habitat,promoting annual grasses and a forested wetland component.
The Upper Choptank Project was made possible through the partnership between Ducks Unlimited and the Waterfowl Festival of Easton. The Waterfowl Festival has a long-standing history of conserving habitat for ducks from Canada to the eastern shore of Maryland, contributing more than $1 million in funds to support DU's mission of providing habitat for North America's waterfowl.
Since 2000, DU has received $136,500 from the Waterfowl Festival's grant program to support the habitat stewardship program on the Delmarva Peninsula. The Waterfowl Festival contribution has assisted DU in co-funding more than 140 projects, restoring more than 1,300 acres of waterfowl habitat on the Delmarva. DU has leveraged those vital private contributions with multiple state and federal grants, amounting to more than $3 million for restoration throughout the Chesapeake Bay.