Thomas Creek Work Landscape Lake County NAWCA.jpg
Brandi Neider, Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council

Ducks Unlimited recently received a $1.3 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant that will fund the latest phase of a long-running project in Oregon’s Lake County that’s improving waterfowl habitat and helping local ranchers.

When completed, the seventh phase of the Lake County Closed Basin Project, near Lakeview, will restore and enhance nearly 3,000 acres of seasonally flooded wetlands and irrigated meadows on seven tracts of private land.

The NAWCA grant also will fund habitat work on 612 acres of public land nearby and secure a permanent conservation easement on a 750-acre parcel whose wetlands were restored during earlier phases of the project. The earlier project phases also were funded from NAWCA grants. They improved nearly 25,000 acres of habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife in the area.

Ducks Unlimited’s project partners on the latest phase include the Oregon Agricultural Trust, the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council and the Lakeview Soil and Water Conservation District. 

Along with the NAWCA funding, Ducks Unlimited, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, two private landowners, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Agricultural Trust provided an additional $2.4 million for the project. Maintaining and restoring wetlands in the drought-ravaged Southern Oregon/Northeastern California (SONEC) region is vital to the Pacific Flyway’s ducks and geese.

Around 70% of all Pacific Flyway waterfowl, including five million dabbling ducks, stage in SONEC in the spring. SONEC also supports 30% of the continental northern pintail population during spring migration and 20% of North America’s breeding population of cinnamon teal.

Reactions to the Lake County NAWCA grant award

From Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam: 
“Since its inception in 1989, NAWCA has seen unrivaled success in restoring North America’s threatened migratory bird habitats. These projects not only support natural places, but they are also good for local economies, support outdoor recreation, improve our water quality, reduce erosion and protect against flooding. We thank our friends in Congress for supporting this vital program and look forward to getting this project underway in Oregon.” 

From U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley: 
“Our lands and waters are integral to the futures of countless animals and migratory birds, while also supporting Oregonians’ quality of life and livelihoods. This funding will help protect these important ecosystems in Lake County so they can thrive for generations to come.”

From U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden:
“Lake County has a special spot on the Pacific Flyway, and it’s smart to invest in protecting the habitat of that unique location for birds and the Oregonians who enjoy watching their majestic migrations. Birding plays a key part in Oregon’s recreation economy, and I’m glad these federal fish and wildlife resources are headed to our state.”

From Justin Ferrell, manager of the Lakeview Soil and Water Conservation District:

“NAWCA grants and our partnership with Ducks Unlimited have been great for the local community. These projects keep local agricultural operations in production while also benefiting wildlife.”

From Marc Hudson, rangeland program director with Oregon Agricultural Trust: 
“These dollars not only help protect wetlands, but valuable flood irrigated pastures which are an important economic part of the community. When everyone wins, communities, fins, feathers and livestock included, thrive.”

From Brandi Neider, a project manager at the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council:
“We really appreciate our partnership with Ducks Unlimited and their work in Lake County. Wet meadow resiliency and working landscapes are priorities for many private landowners around the area. Ducks Unlimited’s support through the NAWCA funds have sure helped us put projects on the ground.”


Since its inception in 1989, NAWCA grants totaling more than $1.83 billion have leveraged $3.75 billion in contributions from partners.

These contributions have far exceeded match requirements, allowing for successful implementation of wetland habitat restoration projects across North America. Federal and non-federal funding has resulted in the conservation of more than 30 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands across North America.

The abundance of wildlife, including many species of waterfowl, other migratory birds, fish and mammals supported by wetlands, translates into multi-billion-dollar activities for Americans who enjoy hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and photography.

NAWCA partnership grants play an important role in accomplishing Ducks Unlimited’s mission, from restoring altered wetlands and enhancing water quality to reducing soil erosion and mitigating the damaging effects of floods. In addition, many projects provide outstanding recreational opportunities such as hunting and bird watching.

Visit DU’s dedicated NAWCA webpage to learn more.

The bipartisan Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approves NAWCA-funded projects. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rep. Mike Thompson and Rep. Rob Wittman are members of the commission and leading advocates on Capitol Hill for policies to conserve and restore wetland habitat.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetland and grassland habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU’s projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Ryan Sabalow, Western Region - Communications Coordinator
(916) 805-1210