The Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council (UPRCD), working in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited, was recently awarded a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to conserve important unprotected coastal habitats in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The grant will also help improve management capabilities on two of the region's most productive wetland complexes.

"NAWCA is a valuable tool in the conservation of our precious natural resources," said U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek of Michigan's First District. "In the Upper Peninsula we understand better than most that we need those resources to thrive, and that an investment that draws stakeholders together can pay back many times over."

Other partners in the grant proposal include the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Nature Association, Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, Raber Area Sportsmen's Club, Sault Area Sportsmen's Club, Straits Area Sportsmen's Club, the Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private landowners. Collectively, these partners have pledged more than $2.1 million in matching funds in pursuit of this grant.

"This is a complex project that has a large number of partners engaged," said UPRCD Executive Director Darcy Rutkowski. "It's a pleasure to see all of the pieces fitting into place and leading to a significant impact on our natural lands."

This NAWCA project will protect 2,272 acres and enhance 1,455 acres of wetlands and other wildlife habitats. The project will also secure about 13 miles of riparian waterways and protect an additional eight miles of beaches, islands, and Great Lakes shorelines, including habitat for the piping plover, a federally listed endangered species.

"It's exciting for Ducks Unlimited to partner with these groups in this part of the state," said DU regional biologist Dane Cramer. "To provide all the services we know that wetlands perform-flood control, clean water, and habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife-managers need the ability to reliably regulate water levels. This grant helps address those challenges in addition to protecting key habitat areas along the coastline."