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 3,848 acres of wetland and associated habitats in Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties located in northwestWisconsin. The grant will build on four previous phases of successful wetland conservation efforts under the Wisconsin Northwest Pothole Habitat Initiative (WNPHI). The WNPHI is a multi-year landscape scale effort to help meet the habitat objectives for the Northwest Focus Area outlined by the Upper Mississippi River & Great Lakes Region Joint Venture. Funding for the current phase will continue efforts to conserve wetlands and associated upland communities on public and private lands throughout the nine-county 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, Mark Johnson, Pheasants Forever, Polk County Land and Water Resources, Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy, Star Prairie Fish & Game Association, U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, West Wisconsin Land Trust, and Wisconsin DNR offered $6.3 million to match the grant request.
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind acknowledged the importance of DU’s work in the area. “I congratulate Ducks Unlimited and its partners for receiving this federal grant, which will help them continue their critical work of restoring wetlands in western Wisconsin. Hunting and fishing generate as much economic activity in our state as the dairy industry, so it is imperative that we maintain the wetlands that serve as habitat for numerous waterfowl and fish species while also filtering our drinking water and guarding against floods. I commend Ducks Unlimited for their leadership and invaluable contribution to our environment and way of life.”
Agriculture and urban development dominate the northwest Wisconsin landscape and have resulted in substantial wetland loss, fragmented grasslands, and increased sediment and nutrient loading in area lakes, streams and rivers. This area is the fastest growing area in the 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 areas for waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds,” says Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist, Jason Hill. “This work will also provide habitat for species of concern and endangered or threatened species, increase recreational opportunities, improve water quality in theUpper Mississippi River Basin, 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.