We have always had trouble with this spot," Dean Ennis remarked as we walked his Accomac County farm last spring. Mr. Ennis, owner of Pocomoke Monument Company in Pocomoke City, Maryland and part-time farmer, was one of the few landowners lucky enough to beat Mother Nature and get a wetland restoration project completed during the rainy summer of 2004.
Mr. Ennis' Accomac County farm was one of many farms with a Ducks Unlimited (DU) wetland restoration project scheduled for construction in the early spring of 2004, but persistent rain presented a challenge. For successful restoration projects on farms, the summer months need to be relatively dry to work. Contrary to popular belief, prime farmland with its high crop yields and positive drainage do not make suitable sites for wetland restorations. Wetlands thrive in low-lying basins or along the edges of wet woodlands or marshes.
With a minimal amount of earth moving, DU was able to create a dike and install a water control structure to impound fresh water runoff from the surrounding farm fields and create a moist soil wetland for ducks.
This wetland was designed to have water physically drawn down by Mr. Ennis during the summer months to allow native seed producing plants to grow. These plants include what DU calls the "big five": smartweed, fall Panicum, foxtail, barnyard grass, and nut sedge. These species are great seed producers fancied by waterfowl during their fall and spring migrations.
DU, through the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP), assisted Mr. Ennis in the restoration of eight acres of wetlands. DU created the wetland design with a cost estimate, construction management to get the project completed to DU specifications, a management plan for the wetland once complete, and last but not least, cost-share to help offset the out-of-pocket cost for the landowner.
All in all, this project was a complete success. Through the (HSP), DU was able to help another private landowner restore a wetland that will provide high quality habitat for waterfowl and help improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. High quality waterfowl habitat, improved water quality, and a happy landowner… What more could you ask for!??