The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) recently announced that Ducks Unlimited has been awarded four Waterfowl Stamp Grants for Virginia wetland restoration projects as a result of VDGIF’s 2007 and 2008 grant review cycles. These awards demonstrate VDGIF’s long tradition of supporting waterfowl conservation within the Commonwealth.
The individual awards will fund four shallow water wetland projects in Fauquier, King William, Lancaster and Northampton Counties. These projects will provide important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent wildlife. Other partners involved with these projects include the Easton Waterfowl Festival and the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service, as well as private landowners who are willing to take marginal areas out of production for the sake of wildlife habitat restoration.
The waterfowl stamp program, which started in 2007, is funded through the sale of the Virginia Duck Stamp. The Waterfowl Stamp Grant allows the VDGIF and non-profit groups, such as Ducks Unlimited, to conserve important waterfowl habitat in Virginia. Landowner and project supporter Mr. Jim Woolford says “the Virginia waterfowl stamp program is an exceptional program that conserves critical wetland habitat as well as providing enhanced and increased recreational opportunities in Virginia”.
Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay is one of the most important wintering areas for birds in North America, and constitutes a major link in the migratory chain stretching from South America to Canada along the Atlantic flyway. More than 250 different species of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and other neotropical migrants-a population of more than 3 million birds-stage in the region in preparation for the next leg of their migrations.
In addition to providing wildlife habitat, these projects will also provide crucial ecological services such as water filtration and purification by trapping excess sediments and nutrient runoff from adjacent agricultural fields. “These projects are critical steps in providing high quality habitat for wintering waterfowl, and improving the overall quality of the Chesapeake Bay” says Mike Budd – Regional Biologist for Ducks Unlimited in Virginia. Furthermore, says Budd, “wildlife habitat restoration funded through programs like the Virginia Waterfowl Stamp Grant Program illustrate the commitment of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia hunters, and nonprofit groups toward securing natural resources and wild places for future generations.”
For more information on how to start a wetland restoration project on your property, please contact Ducks Unlimited’s Annapolis office at 410-224-6620 or visit http://glaromaps.ducks.org/restoration/ and complete an on-line form.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States 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. The Virginia duck stamp is one more program that can help reverse these alarming trends.