AUSTIN, Texas – Oct. 8, 2015 – Waterfowl and shorebirds winging their way to Matagorda County and the Texas Mid-Coast will find more available habitat thanks to collaboration between the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), private landowners and Ducks Unlimited.
"We've been working with LCRA for several years to find collaborative solutions for wildlife in the face of this challenging drought situation," said DU Conservation Outreach Biologist Kirby Brown. "With the lack of rice farming, lack of supplemental irrigation water and limited winter precipitation during the drought, there are now generations of waterfowl that don't identify the Texas Mid-Coast as a place to winter. It is critical we work together towards a solution to provide wetland habitat on the Texas Mid-Coast rice prairie."
As a result of the severe drought gripping Texas, LCRA has not provided water for waterfowl for the last three years. Last year, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Ducks Unlimited and private landowners provided more than 22,300 acres of shallow water
for waterfowl and shorebirds across the Gulf Coast.
This year, thanks to LCRA and private landowners, fallow fields and moist-soil units were flooded in late summer using downstream run-of-river water that originated below Mansfield Dam. No water from the Highland Lakes was used, and idled canals were mowed, sprayed, and cleaned out to conserve water and facilitate efficient delivery.
"Thanks to heavy rains this year, the river is in better shape than it has been in some time, and LCRA worked closely with landowners in the Gulf Coast Division and DU to provide this critical water for wildlife," said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water.
Ducks Unlimited solicited landowner participation in the program and, with help from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, utilized funding from the NFWF managed Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund to incentivize landowners who paid the canal maintenance fee and purchased water with up to a $1,500 reimbursement.
"Over the past 2 years, the NFWF-supported shallow water program has been a huge success. It has generated interest not only from waterfowl hunters, but also from eco-tourism minded landowners who provide opportunities for wildlife photography and bird watching," said DU Private Lands Regional Biologist Matt Kaminski. "Additionally, the shallow water program has illustrated the need for water in early fall and late spring, which are both critical times for migratory birds."
The Texas coast has been identified by Ducks Unlimited as one of the most critical areas for wintering waterfowl in North America. The LCRA program provided more than 1,500 acres of desperately needed habitat during early fall when teal, whistling ducks, shorebirds and other early migrants descend onto the coast.
"Thanks to this collaboration with LCRA, private landowners, and Ducks Unlimited, critical water for the lower Mid-Coast rice prairie wetland complex arrived just in time for the September teal season," Brown said.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.