Ann Arbor, MICHIGAN – Ducks Unlimited and its partners recently received a $1,000,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to protect, restore and enhance 4,747 acres of wetland and associated habitats in 21 counties located from Saginaw Bay to coastal Lake Erie on the east shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The grant will build on a previous phase of successful wetland conservation efforts under the Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Habitat Project. In addition, work has been done in the area under the Saginaw Bay Wetland Initiative, Saginaw Bay Wetland Initiative Phase II, and Lake St. Clair and Western Lake Erie Watershed Project. These projects resulted in more than 16,000 acres of wetland and grassland conservation. Funding for the current phase will continue efforts to conserve wetlands and associated upland communities on public and private lands throughout the extensive project area.

A strong coalition of conservation partners have come together to pool resources in order to accomplish the conservation objectives set forth in this grant. Ducks Unlimited and its partners- DTE Energy, Fish Point Wildlife Association, Harsens Island Waterfowl Hunters Association, Monroe County, Pheasants Forever, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy, Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers, Inc., The Conservation Fund, U.S. Forest Service, Washtenaw Land Trust, Livingston Land Conservancy ,Waterfowl USA – Southwestern Lake Erie Chapter, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources offered $2.4 million to match the grant request.

The NAWCA grant will also aid in the achievement of Michigan wetland goals under the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which is a wide-ranging, cooperative effort to design and implement a strategy for the restoration, protection and sustainable use of the Great Lakes.

Michigan Congressman and member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission that approves NAWCA grants, John Dingell, acknowledged the importance of DU’s work in the area. “Since the passage of NAWCA in 1989, we have been able to protect and restore thousands of acres of wetland habitat across America,” said Dingell. “Along the way, Ducks Unlimited has been tireless in its efforts to secure grant money and preserve habitat for migratory waterfowl.”

Dingell, a champion for annual funding for the program, continued “I am so pleased that a significant portion of the latest grant to DU will be spent in Southeast Michigan and continue to grow the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, which now includes 5,173 acres from just 300 acres seven short years ago.”

Agriculture and urban development dominate the lower east side of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The development has resulted in substantial wetland loss, fragmented grasslands, and increased sediment and nutrient loading in area lakes, streams and rivers. State and natural resources face extreme threats from continuing human development and landscape alteration.

“The habitat protected and restored through this work will provide critical breeding and migration areas for waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds,” says Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Paul Hess. “This work will also provide habitat for species of concern and endangered or threatened species, increase recreational opportunities, improve water quality in the Great Lakes, and aid flood control and erosion over the long-term.”

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