NEW Conservation Project

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NEW Conservation Project

Postby openwatercaller » Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:18 pm

Im in highschool and am starting a waterfowl conservation project for one of my classes. I would like to build 40 hen houses, the program started by Delta Waterfowl. I would also like to build a waterway that would feed rain and run-off water into the marsh to keep it an open-water marsh year round. Im trying to partner with Ducks Unlimited. In other resources i should get a hold of? Also, does anyone have any other good ideas for waterfowl conservation for a large marsh? thank you
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Re: NEW Conservation Project

Postby troutbum43 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:23 am

I'm not sure where you live, but I would look into having a talk with a member of US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Widlife program. There are a lot of factors you need to think about before adjusting a wetland or water flow. For example, if you put year round water with no outlet or flow through into an area you will kill all of your beneficial wetland plants and probably create some great mosquito breeding habitat and wreck the productive duck habitat. Water depth, timing and duration of flows, draw down are what makes a wetland productive for waterfowl. "Just add water" is a dangerous approach.

Let me give you some practical advice here. You will run in to a lot of people (including DU, Delta Waterfowl and yes even the federal and state governments) that are still managing wetlands based on 1950's textbooks and are in fact, and I hate to say it, but they are dead wrong. Think about this if you will. The old dogma says add water to make a flooded wetland year round, flood in to 3 to 6 feet to protect ducks from predators, build nesting platforms. Ok, that sounds logical but a mallard only feeds in 1 to 6 inches of water. More that 6 inches, dabbling ducks can't get to any of that food. Their ducklings need shallow water to feed on bugs when they first hatch, these high protein invertebrates are CRTICAL to have available to ducklings before they can travel long distances. They have to intake a huge amount of protein to grow, and bugs are easily digestible for young ducklings as well. So for nesting in reality you need shallow, bug rich waters with some protective cover and nesting cover nearby. This is developed by adding and drawing down water at critical times to stimulate the growth of plant cover the bugs live in and the small organisms the bugs feed on.

I know you are in high school and it sounds like you have a lot of enthusiasm, so I am encouraging you to seek out professional advice. With some help and information you could greatly improve this wetland, going in blind could ruin it. Just adding year round water and nesting structures is an old mantra that has ruined many a productive marsh because it does not mimic the natural processes nor the conditions that breeding ducks actually require. Also, year round water 2-6 feet deep is a sure fire way to have a totally cattail infested marsh within 5 years. Wetland management is a science and an art, and takes a lot of experience (and mistakes of course) to become proficient. Good luck my friend, if I can help you just PM me.
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