Michigan DNR and Ducks Unlimited Partner to Restore Waterfowl Habitat Within the Erie State Game Area

   01.09.12

A fallow farm field for years, the Dusseau tract of the Erie State Game Area has begun getting an overhaul in recent weeks thanks to a partnership between Ducks Unlimited and the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division (DNR).

Historically a coastal wetland, this tract was surface-drained and pump-drained to facilitate agricultural production for many years.  Recognizing its wetland potential, the DNR purchased the property when it became available in 2006 and has been seeking opportunities since then to restore the coastal wetland community.

That opportunity came with a $284,477 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant acquired by Ducks Unlimited in partnership with the DNR in 2011. The 66-acre Dusseau tract is being converted to 38 acres of productive emergent wetlands and 28 acres of high-quality lakeplain prairie grassland over the next two years.

DNR biologist Joe Robison recognizes the critical role partnerships like this one play in accomplishing conservation goals that benefit native species. “We’ve seen a decline in hunting license sales in recent years, the proceeds of which go directly back to species management projects on our State Game Areas.  Partners like Ducks Unlimited, with their wetland restoration expertise and aid in grant-seeking opportunities, make a big difference in what habitat improvement work we are able to do on our State Game Areas.”

Wetland construction engineered by Ducks Unlimited will include a water conveyance portal and pump to manage water levels, and reinforcements to the low-lying berms that protect adjacent roads.  This water-management system will allow DNR managers to mimic natural wetland fluctuations to promote and maintain diversity in wetland vegetation communities.  Prairie communities will be planted with native lakeplain grasses.

It is estimated thatMichiganhas lost more than 50 percent of the wetlands and 98 percent of the prairie that once occurred prior to European settlement.  This project, slated to be completed by summer 2013, will restore hydrologic retention and associated nutrient and sediment trapping that will improve water quality inNorthMaumeeBay.  Once completed, the restoration will provide habitat for a number of waterfowl, amphibian and reptile species.

According to Ducks Unlimited, “Partnerships between the Michigan DNR and Ducks Unlimited in conjunction with funding opportunities such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are critical for the continued success in protecting, enhancing and restoring vital habitats such as these, and restoring the health of ourGreat Lakes.”

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