Project Profiles - United States
The Other Piece of the Puzzle
by Bruce Taylor, Oregon Wetlands Joint Venture
Located 20 miles north of Klamath Falls, the Williamson River delta was
once a vast network of marshes that supported a rich array of fish and
wildlife until farmers channelized the river and drained the delta lands
for agriculture in the 1950s. The river is now contained by large levees
throughout its 6-mile course across the delta to Upper Klamath Lake.
Although the seasonally flooded farmlands continued to draw large numbers
of migratory waterfowl, the conversion to agriculture eliminated critical
marsh habitat for two species of fish that were a staple of the Klamath
Indian Tribe's traditional culture: the shortnose sucker and Lost River
sucker, now both on the Federal endangered species list. The loss of the
marshes also removed an important natural filtering system for the river's
nutrient-rich flows, contributing to serious water quality problems in
Upper Klamath Lake.
"Restoring an active river delta is an extraordinary challenge," says
Mark Stern, the Conservancy's Klamath Basin project manager. "You really
need to affect both sides of the river to make it work."
Initial restoration work undertaken by The Conservancy has restored seasonally
flooded marshes within the dikes on a large portion of the northern Williamson
River delta. Partners include the Natural Resources Conservation Service,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Klamath Tribes, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,
PacifiCorp, Cell Tech International, and the National Fish and Wildlife
The Conservancy added more than 3,700 acres to its holdings along the
river in early 2000 and now owns all of the diked lands along both sides
of the lower 6 miles of the river.Farming will continue on the south side
of the river for the next 3 years pending development of wetland restoration
plans for about 2,700 acres of the new additions. The remainder of the
property will be sold for continued agricultural use.
Restoration work is well under way on 3,600 acres on the north side of
the river, where the Conservancy purchased the former Tulana Farms property
in 1996 with the help of six major partners, and where farming continues
on about 1,100 acres. The Conservancy's $4.8 million purchase of the farmlands
along the south side of the river delta consolidated the lower river into
a single ownership and opened the door to a comprehensive restoration
Up to now, the Conservancy and its partners had been working with a puzzle
that came with only half of its pieces. The lost pieces have been gathered,
and the picture is nearly complete.
For more information, contact Mark Stern, The Nature Conservancy,
821 SE 14th Street, Portland, Oregon 97214, (503) 230-1221, firstname.lastname@example.org
Enhancing Diversity in the Texas Panhandle
by John P. Hughes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and William P. Johnson, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Because of its complex of cottonwood groves, wet meadows, marshes, and
sandhills, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Gene Howe Wildlife
Management Area (WMA) is a unique site in the Texas Panhandle's mixed-grass
prairie. Located near Canadian, Texas, the 5,824-acre WMA, which borders
the Canadian River is host to a diverse array of birdlife, including wild
turkeys, burrowing owls, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, Canada geese,
lesser prairie chickens, roadrunners, and Mississippi kites. With the
construction of a 30-acre moist-soil management unit, known as the West
Bull Slough Project, the WMA became even more diverse.
Work on the project involved raising the level of an existing road by
2 feet for a distance of 2,500 feet and replacing three old culverts with
water-control structures. The elevated road level caused the existing
10-acre, spring-fed wetland to triple in size, and the water-control structures
allow for water levels to be manipulated year-round. Project management
calls for lowering water levels during summer months to encourage germination
and growth of moist-soil plants. During the winter, the unit is flooded
with shallow water to provide habitat for dabbling ducks.
The primary aim of the project's partnership was to improve habitat conditions
for wintering dabbling ducks. However, since its completion in 1998, blue-winged
teal and mallards have even used it as a brood-rearing site. However,
waterfowl are not the only birds making use of the site - grebes, shorebirds,
and wading birds also are found there.
In addition to the management unit, partners constructed an observation
blind, boardwalk, and trails to facilitate wildlife viewing. Plans are
to use the project site as a demonstration area for groups interested
in wetland conservation and management. It will also be available for
waterfowl hunting and fishing.
The West Bull Slough Project was made possible through the donations
and cooperation of several partners. Funding was provided by the Playa
Lakes Joint Venture, Phillips Petroleum Company, Ducks Unlimited, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Cooper Natural Resources, and Kaiser-Francis
Oil Company. The Natural Resources Conservation Service designed the project,
and KN Energy and Upland Resources, Inc., contributed materials. Thanks
to this partnership, diversity at the Gene Howe WMA has been enhanced.
For more information, contact Brad Simpson, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department, Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area, Route 3, Box 19, Canadian,
Texas 79015, (806) 323-8642, email@example.com.
Preserving the Endangered White River
by Tildy La Farge and Laura Houseal, Ducks Unlimited
"Hugely important." That's how David Marrone, an attorney and Manager
of Conservation Lands at Ducks Unlimited, characterized the acquisition
of the 4,166-acre Raft Creek and 900-acre Hatchiecoon tracts in Arkansas'
White River ecosystem in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Marrone
qualified his statement with, "These tracts support one of the largest
concentrations of wintering waterfowl in Arkansas."
Wetland degradation in the southern United States has been extensive.
The original extent of bottomland hardwoods in the valley covered 24 million
acres. Today, less than 5 million acres remain. Even with this draconian
reduction in habitat, the valley still serves as the primary winter habitat
for approximately 40 percent (1.5 million) of the mid-continent mallard
A public-private partnership purchased the two tracts, which have been
turned over to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. "Our main goal is
to return this area to its native state," explained Steve Frick of Ducks
Unlimited. "Winter flooding has been compromised by the reduction of wetlands
and loss of bottomland hardwoods. We will restore hydrology with moist-soil
impoundments, and we will plant a variety of bottomland species, including
many oak species, bald cypress, and green ash." Jody Pagan, Natural Resources
Conservation Service biologist, added that hydrological and vegetative
restoration will be critical in the Raft Creek tract, which draws one-fifth
of the State's waterfowl every winter.
The White River basin contains the second largest contiguous block (approximately
350,000 acres) of forested wetlands in the United States. The acquired
lands lie within this greater wetlands area, which has been designated
as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The White River basin area is designated a Flagship Project Area of the
North American Waterfowl Management Plan's Lower Mississippi Valley Joint
Venture, and on April 10, 2000, American Rivers named the White River
one of America's 13 most endangered rivers.
"The White River basin is recognized internationally as a unique wetland
ecosystem. While some of the forested floodplain has been protected by
public ownership, the hydrology, which is the lifeblood of the system,
also must be preserved," said Dr. Stephen Adair, Director of Conservation
Programs for Ducks Unlimited. Hugh Durham, Director of the Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission, called the project "a great example of the wonderful
things that can happen for wildlife when the public and private sectors
For more information contact, Tildy La Farge, Ducks Unlimited, One
Waterfowl Way, Memphis, Tennessee, 38120-2351, (901) 758-3859, firstname.lastname@example.org.
White River Tracts Acquisition Partners
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Natural Resources Conservation Service
National Wild Turkey Federation
Waterfowlers Adopt Shorebirds
by R. K. "Kenny" Williams, Ducks Unlimited
Historically, tidal freshwater regions of the South Atlantic Coast, stretching
from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to the St. Marys River in northern
Florida, were developed for rice culture during the 1700s and 1800s. These
tidal freshwater marshes were impounded with a network of dikes and could
be drained or flooded with wooden water-control structures known as ricefield
The ricefields of the South Atlantic became extremely important wintering
areas for migratory waterfowl. They were attracted to these areas to feed
upon waste grain, natural moist-soil plant seeds, and a rich mix of invertebrates.
As the rice culture period of this region waned, many of the old rice
plantations were purchased and maintained as hunt clubs. After 1900, thousands
of additional acres in the brackish and saline zones of the South Atlantic
were impounded and managed for wintering waterfowl.
Waterfowl need these tidal wetlands, but so do shorebirds, particularly
during the late winter/early spring migration period. At a March 2000
shorebird management workshop, sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture
and held near Charleston, South Carolina, particpants identified the need
for a private lands program for shorebird management on tidal, impounded
wetlands currently being managed primarily for waterfowl.
Out of the workshop came a commitment by a group of representatives from
the Joint Venture, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited.
They formed the South Carolina Shorebird Habitat Management Group (Group),
which held its first meeting in June in Charleston to develop an action
plan for shorebirds.
The Group decided to contact owners and managers of managed wetlands
in the fresh, brackish, and saline zones along the South Carolina coast
to determine the level of interest in shorebird management and to offer
technical assistance. The Group sent letters and questionnaires to over
50 private landowners and a few federal and state managers. The results
have exceeded expectations. Thus far, landowners indicate they are willing
to manage for shorebirds on over 30,000 acres. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation
Plan's 2002 habitat management goal for this region is 18,500 acres of
state and federal lands. Successfully managed private lands may be able
to meet the intent of that goal: to provide a reliable place for shorebirds
Water levels in these privately owned tidal impoundments can be manipulated
very effectively using water-control structures. By maintaining late winter/early
spring drawdowns at 1 to 4 inches in depth, excellent foraging areas for
shorebirds can be maintained. Late-migrating waterfowl such as blue-winged
teal and local breeding populations of mottled ducks also will benefit.
This late winter/early spring adjustment in the typical wetlands-management
scenario can be incorporated without compromising long-term management
for wintering waterfowl.
This initiative should prove to be extremely important in meeting the
habitat and population objectives of the Shorebird Plan and the South
Atlantic Migratory Bird Initiative in the southeastern United States.
Additionally, the South Carolina effort can serve as a model for future
shorebird management efforts within the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture.
For more information, contact R. K. "Kenny" Williams, Ducks Unlimited,
3870 Leeds Avenue, Suite 114, Charleston, South Carolina 29405, (843)