DU And Partners Recieve $781,840 For Louisiana Delta

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DU And Partners Recieve $781,840 For Louisiana Delta Wetlands Restoration

3/26/08

Federal NAWCA grant supports long-term wetland conservation

MONROE, LOUISIANA ' Ducks Unlimited was awarded a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to enhance over 3,920 acres of wetland habitat in Concordia and Ouachita Parishes in northeast Louisiana. Partners contributed more than $3 million to match the $781,840 received from the federal grant. The project will restore high priority wintering habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds within the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMV).

'This proposal represents a continuation of long-term efforts to protect and enhance important wetland habitats in the LMV. These habitats support a rich diversity of wildlife species,' said Tom Moorman, Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs. 'Forested and emergent wetlands and associated uplands in the region provide migration and wintering habitat for mallards, wood ducks, gadwalls, and millions of other wetland-dependent and migratory birds.'

The LMV once consisted of 24 million acres of forest, including millions of acres of bottomland forested wetlands interspersed with swamps, cypress-tupelo brakes, scrub-shrub wetlands, and emergent wetlands that provided wetland functions and values of incalculable worth. Today, an estimated 80% of the forest has been cleared and converted to agriculture, and hydrology alterations have been so extensive as to reduce flooding by 50-88% throughout the region. These large-scale alterations have caused significant losses in wetland function and values.

'Successful delivery of this project will help ensure that the LMV landscape continues to fulfill its historical role as one of the most important wintering and migration habitats for mallards in North America, as well as for continental populations of others species of waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland-dependent migratory birds,' Moorman said.

This proposal includes the enhancement of 1,120 acres of moist soil habitat, 2,300 acres of forested wetlands, 500 acres of cleared forested wetlands converted to rice/soybean rotation agriculture, and protection of 127 acres of riparian uplands.

The project will be carried out on several tracts of public land including Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Russell Sage Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Ouachita WMA. Also, private landowners donated conservation easements, the value of which was used to leverage NAWCA funding for use in the public lands projects. This proposal complements a previously funded proposal, Grand Cote NWR Wetland Enhancement, which will soon be complete.

Once finished this NAWCA project will provide flooded wetlands important for feeding, pair isolation, thermal refuge and roosting for waterfowl. Species including northern pintail, mottled duck, American black duck, mallard, lesser scaup, and greater scaup will benefit. Wood storks and the threatened Louisiana black bear also will benefit directly from habitat protected or enhanced via this proposal.

'Like all of our projects, the partners involved in the Louisiana Delta wetland conservation project make it possible,' Moorman said.

This NAWCA project combines the fish and wildlife management capabilities of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the wetland enhancement expertise of Ducks Unlimited. In addition, the partnership incorporates the land protection expertise of Wetlands America Trust and includes financial support from the Native American Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana.

Larry Reynolds is the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Coordinator for LDWF. 'We've been very concerned over the last 2-3 years that we wouldn't be able to hold water in the green tree reservoir on Russell Sage WMA because of a failing levee, and the water control structure is degraded beyond functionality. This project will rebuild the levee and replace that water control structure,' Reynolds said.

In Washington, D.C., Ducks Unlimited's governmental affairs staff works with Congress to raise support for annual funding of NAWCA. Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-La.) represents Louisiana's fifth district where this restoration project will occur.

'The 5th Congressional District is very fortunate to have beautiful lands and wildlife that many other regions of our country do not, and we have a great responsibility to protect and preserve those resources,' Alexander said. 'Over the years, Ducks Unlimited has been a faithful ally in this challenge, and this grant will give them the means to continue working to protect wildlife in north Louisiana.'

Senator David Vitter (R-La.) also appreciates the value of the LMV. 'The Louisiana Delta is one of the most unique natural environments in the world and serves as a fine example of our state's natural beauty,' Vitter said.

'Preserving these valuable ecosystems for future Louisianans and their families is something that I work toward as a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the NAWCA grants help make projects like this possible,' Vitter said.

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) also supports restoration efforts in the LMV. 'Louisiana's wetlands are home to millions of wintering waterfowl and several federally-listed threatened and endangered species, including the brown pelican and hundreds of nesting bald eagles. These treasured creatures have provided us with food, enjoyment and sport for hundreds of years. But as our wetlands have been drained or eroded, this wildlife has also declined,' Landrieu said.

'Comprehensive conservation endeavors are integral to the continued vibrancy of Louisiana's environment and the diversity of its wildlife. I commend Ducks Unlimited for protecting these areas in a manner that sustains our traditions and our state's great beauty,' Landrieu said.

To date, NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,800 wetland projects on 23 million acres in all 50 states, every province of Canada, and areas in Mexico. Thousands of partners, including private landowners, corporations and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through NAWCA grants.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization, having conserved over 12 million acres. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands ' natures' most productive ecosystem ' and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.


Media Contact:
Andi Cooper (601) 206-5463 acooper@ducks.org
 


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