Florida has some iconic waterfowl hunting areas, which are specifically managed to provide habitat for overwintering waterfowl, especially during hunting season. Peacock’s Pocket at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Cape Canaveral is perhaps the most well-known. This area is an integral part of the Atlantic Flyway and attracts a tremendous number of migratory birds each year. The Refuge contains an extensive impoundment system to control water levels and habitat quality. The condition of the dikes surrounding these impoundments is critical to operations.

Peacock’s Pocket has suffered greatly from storm effects, especially during Hurricane Irma. The dike was eroding, breached, and impassable by vehicles, making management challenging. Given DU’s history of working at this site and many other refuges throughout the country, USFWS requested that DU conduct the dike restoration oversight for the project using federal FEMA funds. A DU contractor raised and secured 4.5 miles of the dike over the past year. For certain sections with sharp turns, which are prone to breaching during storms, the dike was straightened, leaving some old dike sections external to the impoundment. The old sections were scraped down to wetland elevation and planted with native marsh species, providing additional habitat and protecting the outer lagoon-facing margin of the impoundment. With the newly secured dike in place, managing for desirable species will continue at this famous haven for waterfowl and hunting enthusiasts.