Ducks Unlimited, Partners to Restore Wetlands in Missouri Confluence

Ducks Unlimited, Partners to Restore Wetlands in Missouri Confluence
NAWCA grant helps fund waterfowl habitat projects.

Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited

ST. Louis, Mo – -( Ducks Unlimited and partners recently received a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to support wetland restoration projects on Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, B.K. Leach Conservation Area, and private lands in the Missouri confluence. DU and partners provided over $3.4 million to match the nearly $1 million grant.

“This project protects 1,550 acres via a donated conservation easement, restores 487 acres, and enhances 2,617 acres of diverse wetlands and associated habitats,” DU Manager of Conservation Programs for Missouri, Craig Hilburn said. “The lands included in this project are representative of areas deemed critical for wetland protection, restoration and enhancement by the Upper Mississippi River & Great Lakes Joint Venture and other regional natural resource plans,” Hilburn said.

Wetland managers at Clarence Cannon NWR and B.K. Leach CA plan to reclaim natural floodplain meanders to enhance water management which ultimately enhances wetland habitats. Improvements will require removing several small levees to reconnect the natural hydrologic flow, as well as adding pumps and updating water control structures. These efforts enrich habitat for wintering and migrating waterfowl, and allow refuge staff to better manage habitats for the imperiled King Rail and other at risk species.

“Our conservation partnerships are a critical component of every project DU undertakes,” Hilburn said. “In the case of this grant, the primary source of our match comes from Wetlands America Trust through the value of a conservation easement donated by Adolphus Busch on the 1,550-acre Belleau Farms.”

The value of donated conservation easements in the Missouri Confluence is a major contributor of match dollars used in securing NAWCA grants. These grants are then used to renovate aging infrastructure on historic public wetland areas throughout Missouri.

“We are very pleased Ducks Unlimited is focusing its efforts on such a remarkably unique area of habitat. Along with the conservation work we’ve undertaken through Great Rivers Habitat Alliance, I felt it was important to preserve the land that has been a special place for my family for many years. By placing a conservation easement on Belleau Farm through Ducks Unlimited, we are helping to break the cycle of Confluence Flood Plain development and ensuring this will be a special place for years to come,” Busch said.

Partners on the current project include Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, St. Louis Audubon Society, and Wetlands America Trust.

“We are proud to participate in this effort to improve habitats in the historic Confluence Region of Missouri,” interim Refuge Manager for Great River and Clarence Cannon NWR’s Candy Chambers said.

“The improvements on B.K. Leach CA will not only provide important habitat for many species of wetland wildlife, but will also increase public hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities,” MDC Wildlife Division Chief DeeCee Darrow said.

In Washington, D.C., Ducks Unlimited’s governmental affairs staff works with Congress to garner support for annual funding of NAWCA.

NAWCA has helped fund more than 1,800 wetland projects on 24 million acres in all 50 states, every Canadian province, and in Mexico. In Missouri alone, NAWCA projects have conserved nearly 84,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Thousands of partners, including private landowners, corporations and state governments have worked together to conserve wildlife habitat through funding provided via the grant program.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization; Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres across North America. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands ? among nature’s most productive ecosystems ? and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.