Through new grants announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Ducks Unlimited received $348,000 in funding as a part of the 2022 America the Beautiful Challenge. The funding will advance on-the-ground wetland habitat restoration and provide engineering technical assistance to implement the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Working Lands for Wildlife Black Duck Initiative across mid-Atlantic wetlands in New Jersey and the Delmarva peninsula (Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia).

The primary goal of the grant is to expand the Ducks Unlimited (DU) partnership with the NRCS in New Jersey and Delmarva by hiring an engineering technician to advance wetland projects ready for delivery and help with new project designs and outreach efforts with farmers and landowners.

"This funding will support meaningful habitat conservation work on private lands in New Jersey and Delmarva," said Frank Pannick, New Jersey DU state chairman. "Were excited about this opportunity and our conservation staff looks forward to working with private landowners to protect important Black Duck habitat across the regions agricultural landscape."

According to the USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture, Delmarva is home to approximately 10,672 agricultural producers, and New Jersey is home to 16,556 agricultural producers. Of these farmers, significant numbers are identified as "historically underserved producers."

Once the most abundant dabbling duck in the Mid-Atlantic, Black Duck visits to the Region have dropped to 50,000 from the historical average of 200,000 each year. This new funding will aid in restoring critical habitat for Black Ducks and other waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway.

The partnership between DU and NRCS will support the Working Lands for Wildlife Farm Bill program while allowing for further progress to be made toward the Chesapeake Bay Programs 2025 restoration goals.

  • Funding awarded to DU from this 2022 America the Beautiful Challenge Grant will:
  • Employ an engineering technician
  • Expand work with producers and private landowners to implement Farm Bill Programs
  • Establish a network of high-quality Black Duck habitats
  • Strengthen the Ducks Unlimited Natural Resources Conservation Service relationship