We Can Do Something About Our Receding Wetlands
Conservation Groups Work Together
More and more wetlands across South Carolina are being restored and enhanced because of conservation groups such as the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the partnerships that they form with other groups to accomplish their goals. SCWA and NRCS have joined SCWA’s Wood Duck Production Project and the NRCS Wetland Reserve Program in a partnership to broaden and enhance their goals to restore as many wetlands as possible each year.
SCWA Waterfowl Biologists believe this partnership will be a great success, With the demand for hard timber fiber increasing, there is less and less natural habitat available for breeding wood ducks. Whereas wetlands many years ago were drained for agricultural purposes, the NRCS provides a service to the landowners to re-establish these once existing wetlands. Such reestablished wetlands are excellent sites for the Wood Duck Production Project, because they provide food sources as well as good brood rearing habitat. Wood duck nesting units installed on these sites not only provide the hens with quality nesting cavities, but also several other species of cavity nesting birds such as Carolina wrens, warblers, great crested flycatchers, eastern bluebirds, and hooded mergansers.
This partnership began this spring of 2003 with several projects in Bamberg and Dillon Counties. Some of the projects consisted of removing drainage tiles that were installed years ago to drain low water pockets in fields. Other projects received a more advanced restoration that included dikes with water control structures used for planting food for waterfowl to be flooded in the winter. All of the projects received a suitable number of nest boxes according to acreage and density of plant growth.
Over the past 20 years the Wetland Reserve Program has become the most popular and ecologically successful voluntary incentive-based wetland restoration program in U.S. history. The funding for this program is made available by the Commodity Credit Corporation and then implemented by NRCS.
NRCS provides financial assistance for landowners in the form of easement payments and restoration cost-share assistance. The lands that are enrolled mostly consist of flood prone restorable agricultural wetlands. However, many types of drained or altered swamps have been enrolled in WRP. If a landowner wishes to participate in some kind of wetland restoration project, he/she should call their local USDA/NRCS office and ask about the Wetland Reserve Program. The landowner would then receive a questionnaire referring to certain aspects of their land. Then, upon approval (based on land value), which will be determined through NRCS, the project is underway.
If you have an area that you think may support wood ducks and would like to learn more about obtaining wood duck nesting structures, please call SCWA Waterfowl Biologist and Executive Director, David Wielicki at (803-452-6001). If you are not already a cooperator of the Wood Duck Production Project, please call to find out more about becoming involved with the largest wood duck project in the nation.