Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently celebrated the completion of the Hurricane Irma restoration work at Savannah National Wildlife Area in South Carolina.

DU has worked with the USFWS for years across the country, from working to install new water-control structures at Santee NWR in South Carolina to work in the Prairie Pothole Region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa, DU and the USFWS know the value of true conservation partnerships.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1927 as a sanctuary for migratory birds, most notably wintering waterfowl. Unfortunately, this area sustained extensive damage during Hurricane Irma. The 3,000-acre impoundment system that was impacted is the primary means of providing this high-quality habitat and was severely damaged.

This is an excellent example of how DU can partner with USFWS to make management infrastructure at critical waterfowl refuges more resilient to storms, extreme flooding and changes in climate. DU engineering staff worked with refuge staff from throughout the project, developing and implementing a plan to improve the management capabilities of the impoundments with the Savannah NWR Complex. Working as a team, they prioritized all aspects of the project to allow the most benefit from the allocated money.

Repairing the damaged areas from hurricanes was a top priority; however, much effort and data collection was done to make the system more resilient during future storm events.

Restoration work impacted 2,651 acres, which included 22.7 miles of re-topped dikes, 57 miles of ditch and canal cleanout, installation of eight rice trunks and one concrete water-control structure, and 35 field access ramps.