Wetlands Benefit Everyone: Ducks Unlimited Provides Benefits to New Jersey's Residents by Restoring Its Wetlands
Ann Arbor, MI—March 29, 2004 — After losing nearly 40% of its historical wetlands, the state of New Jersey is an important area for Ducks Unlimited (DU) to ensure that these valuable resources be restored. In collaboration with private landowners and multiple state and federal partners, Ducks Unlimited has completed several wetland restoration projects across the state, producing various opportunities for New Jersey's residents. "Wetlands provide great value to our environment," states Ducks Unlimited Biologist, Cindy Patterson. "It's imperative that these wetlands be restored and protected because of the multitude of benefits they provide to society, including outdoor recreation, wildlife watching, scenic natural habitats, improved water quality, environmental study, and education."
Ducks Unlimited and its partners have completed wetland and upland restoration projects in the Somerville area. For example, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DU engineered and delivered the Middle Brook project at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Two water control structures were installed to support the management regime for a 17-acre marsh located in close proximity to the refuge office in Basking Ridge. This wetland provides important habitat for migrating waterfowl, especially mallard, wood duck and teal, as well as long-legged wading birds. Being close to the road, this site gets significant visitation from local birders. Although this project was completed on public land, many projects also occur on privately owned lands.
"In addition to our public partners, as a non-profit organization we depend on the generosity of major donors who contribute to the vital habitat work we conduct", says Patterson. If you would like to become a major donor or are interested in hearing more about the exciting projects happening in New Jersey, please call (631) 286-2378.
As a DU volunteer, we all spend a lot of time raising money for wetlands enhancement and conservation. The various fundraising events held through out the state are very important. Unfortunately, communication between the various groups is sometimes lacking.
I have personally been to DU dedications, seen completed projects, read/heard about work being done in NJ and preached the DU Delaware Bayshore Initiative. Yesterday, I was fortunate to actually see a project under construction. Dave Woodland and I met up with DU Program Biologist Scott Reinhart and Don Wilkinson at the Heislerville WMA.
The short story is, of the 4 water control structures there, three will be replaced. By doing this, the water levels can be lowered and raised to provide the optimum environment for seasonal conditions. For instance, the water can be lowered in the Spring and Summer to allow for vegetation growth and expose mud flats for shorebirds. In the Fall and Winter, water levels can be raised for waterfowl. Right now, not all the existing structures can do this and some are in pretty bad shape. This work will enhance nearly 300 acres of prime habitat. This work is ready to be done. The equipment is there and the project will be completed in the next three weeks or so.
The project costs nearly $200,000. Of that, approximately $40,000 is DU money. Some of the other partners in the project are NJ Wetlands Mitigation Council, NJ Fish and Wildlife and Waterfowl Stamp Advisory Council.
If you get some time over the next few weeks, take a ride and look at the project. Not a bad road trip for your committee to see how they play a role in this. Take a pair of binoculars and a camera. You'll see plenty of wildlife. Matter of fact, as we stood on one of the sites, we watched flock after flock of GW teal buzz into the impoundment and land a 50 yards away. At some of the other locations, we watched buffleheads, Canada geese, widgeons, black ducks and much more. Seeing the waterfowl there now just reaffirms how important the project is.
State Council Chairmen
New Jersey Projects Video
To quote the great Mike Panos, "It's good when things come together."
As volunteers, we are sometimes asked "Where does all the DU money go?". If I had a dollar for every time I heard, "All the money goes to Canada", we could probably fund an entire wetlands project. In order to help clarify it and as a result of many meeting discussions, it looks like it is really going to happen.
Mike asked one of his neighbors, Ken Petretti, to help us show how the money is being spent in NJ. Ken happens to be the Executive Producer for his own production company. He offered to donate his time and resources and help out us. So, a small group of us spent yesterday filming some of these freshly (and soon to be) completed projects. The video should be completed by the NJDU State Meeting. In addition to showing the actual sites and work completed, it will also have interviews with some of the biologists, Major Donors, DU staff and NJ F&W individuals that helped make it happen.
We had a great day of filming and captured many good things.
Ken Petretti and Richard W.
Mike Panos, RVP
Don Wilkinson, Key Player for DU and NJ F&W
Craig Kessler, DU Bio. Manager
Lee Wijeskog, Key Player for DU and NJ F&W
Joe Hancock, DU Major Donor/Owner-private lands conservation project
Bill King, Owner/Private lands conservation project
Butch Irvine, DU Major Donor
Marty McHugh, Director of NJ F&W
Joe DeMartino, DU RD