Ducks Unlimited restores Louisiana wetlands

Published 10:44 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2015

From staff reports

Ducks Unlimited received  a $4-million award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program to support wetland restoration on private lands in southern Louisiana.

The grant will be matched with more than $650,000 from Ducks Unlimited and partners.

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“NFWF has been a critical investor in Ducks Unlimited’s conservation work for a long time, and we are very pleased to continue that collaboration to enhance working rice lands and coastal marshes in Louisiana,” said DU Southern Region Director of Operations Dr. Tom Moorman.

“With nearly 90 percent of the land in Louisiana privately owned, private lands restoration work is critical to supporting desired waterfowl populations.”

DU is committed to restoring and protecting waterfowl habitat in Louisiana, the continent’s most important waterfowl wintering grounds.

Several ways to meet this mission include working with rice producers to improve and sustain their operations through DU’s Rice Stewardship Program, working with private landowners to manage coastal marsh and restoring degraded agricultural lands to natural wetland habitats. This project will restore, enhance and protect 86,000 acres of agricultural lands and coastal marsh in southwest Louisiana.

To conserve ricelands, an experienced and diverse team of Ducks Unlimited wildlife biologists, conservation planners, agronomists and engineers will work in partnership with local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices and rice farmers to catalyze conservation solutions through Farm Bill programs.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the Louisiana NRCS, a track record of using diverse partnerships to deliver conservation and a history of collaboration with local land owners,” said Rice Stewardship Program Coordinator Alicia Wiseman.

“Ducks Unlimited is the world leader in wetlands restoration, and this NFWF grant supports that work.”

    Winter flooded rice lands provide more than 40 percent of the food available to wintering waterfowl along the Gulf Coast. Rice agriculture in the United States is vital to meeting the objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and is a focus of Ducks Unlimited’s conservation work across the country.

    The grant also supports the Louisiana Waterfowl Project, a private lands conservation partnership between Ducks Unlimited, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and NRCS. Through this program, DU biologists and engineers work with private landowners to restore and protect coastal marsh from saltwater intrusion and other destructive forces.

    “Private lands managed for waterfowl benefit everyone,” Moorman said.

    “There is not enough publicly owned land to provide sufficient habitat for wildlife along the Gulf Coast. These landowners are providing critical resources for the migratory birds and wildlife we all enjoy.”