The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced five projects to restore and enhance habitats for species impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster, including the Gulf Coast Migratory Waterfowl Enhancement Project. Funded through the NFWF-administered Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, these are the first restoration projects in Texas resulting from the RESTORE Act.

The $1.25-million grant will be provided to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), which will work with Ducks Unlimited to restore and enhance Texas coastal wetlands.

“Ducks Unlimited has incomparable experience and expertise in wetlands restoration,” said TPWD Director Carter Smith. “Our well-established partnership has resulted in improved waterfowl habitats in Texas, and we look forward to continuing that effort to further restore Gulf Coast wetlands.”

The project will support wetland improvement and water availability on private lands.

“With 95 percent of Texas under private ownership, working with private landowners is a critical strategy necessary to accomplish habitat objectives for wintering waterfowl. The Texas Prairie Wetlands Project is the perfect vehicle for getting that done,” said Todd Merendino, DU manager of conservation programs for the state.

The Texas Prairie Wetlands Project is the primary delivery mechanism of waterfowl habitat on private lands for the Gulf Coast Joint Venture and the single largest program in Texas designed to assist private landowners with wetlands restoration and enhancement.

“Though individual project areas may be small, the importance of these habitats should not be underestimated,” Merendino said. “According to a recent Gulf Coast Joint Venture analysis, Texas Prairie Wetland Project units provide 20 percent of the available waterfowl habitat on the Texas Mid-Coast in dry years.”

Having restored and enhanced more than 65,000 acres on the Texas Gulf Coast in its 20-year history, the program provides engineering, design and cost share to private landowners to restore wetlands in exchange for an agreement to manage the habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species for no less than 10 years.

“We believe that the Texas Prairie Wetland Project, with its proven track record of delivering wetland projects in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and private landowners, is ideal for delivering habitat to offset impacts to coastal wetlands from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” said DU Director of Conservation Programs Jerry Holden.

A second portion of the project will focus on providing seasonal surface water on agricultural lands in the Texas Mid-Coast and Chenier Plain.

Logo courtesy Ducks Unlimited

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