Ducks Unlimited and its partners recently launched a new conservation initiative in the Garden State. The goal of this initiative is to protect, restore, and enhance vital wetlands in southeastern New Jersey's coastal region, where the pressures of development and the risk of severe storm destruction of the kind caused by Hurricane Sandy continue to threaten these already altered landscapes.

Ducks Unlimited is working with many partners, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Pinelands Commission, Cape May County Department of Mosquito Control, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to launch the first phase of this initiative. For this initial phase, DU and its partners are seeking $1 million in funding through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to enhance nearly 1,000 acres of waterfowl habitat at Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area (WMA) near Estell Manor.

"This initiative is an exciting opportunity for DU to protect and enhance habitat that will benefit black ducks, pintails, and mallards as well as other birds and wildlife," said Nick Biasini, DU's regional biologist in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "Southeast New Jersey has a diversity of habitat that is important to a variety of wildlife, and this region is an important transition area between the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey and the state's coastal estuaries."

Restoration work at Tuckahoe WMA will include replacing water-control structures, altering the topography, and dredging, which will give the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife the ability to manage water levels on several impoundments, providing optimal habitat for migrating waterfowl and associated wetland-dependent species. In the future, Ducks Unlimited will build on the success of this initial project at Tuckahoe WMA by expanding the Southeast New Jersey Coastal Initiative to conserve other important wetlands across this region.