Two Mississippi National Wildlife Refuges Enhanced
Ducks Unlimited and Partners Restore Waterfowl Habitat in Miss. Delta.
RIDGELAND, Miss – Work on two National Wildlife Refuges within the Theodore Roosevelt NWR Complex begins this summer. Ducks Unlimited engineers have worked with refuge managers to prepare plans to enhance wetland habitat on Morgan Brake NWR and Panther Swamp NWR. The project is funded through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant and through a grant from the Walker Foundation.
“The project will restore and enhance 675 acres of moist soil and seasonally flooded agricultural lands on these two refuges,” DU Regional Engineer Billy Hill said. “We are working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff in the development of these projects, and we look forward to seeing them completed.”
The work at Morgan Brake NWR in Holmes County will convert abandoned catfish ponds to moist soil units. Moist soil units are wetland areas managed to encourage growth of natural vegetation. Well-managed moist soil impoundments often produce 6 to 10 times the amount of food of other habitat types, and the foods provided meet all of the nutritional requirements of waterfowl during winter. The conversion will consist of redesigning existing levees and making improvements to the existing wells and underground irrigation system used to flood these impoundments.
The work on Panther Swamp NWR in Yazoo County will result in enhanced waterfowl habitat on the Lower Twist and Big Twist areas. Renovation of existing levees and construction of new ones will allow refuge staff to better control flooding of moist soil plants and agricultural crops for waterfowl.
Enormous acreages of wetland habitats have been lost in many critical migration areas, including the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley, and both of these refuges provide valuable wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl within the Mississippi Flyway.
Though the specific project sites are not open to hunting, both refuges do have areas where hunting is allowed. In fact, an additional 800 acres on Panther Swamp NWR will be opened to hunting this year that were previously off limits.
“With the number of waterfowl that migrate through this area, we want to offer hunters ample hunting opportunity while maintaining and improving waterfowl rest and food resources,” Sabrina Chandler, Panther Swamp NWR refuge manager, said. “The partnership that exists between DU and the USFWS demonstrates what can be accomplished to benefit waterfowl, wetland habitat, and sportsmen and women in Mississippi when everyone works together.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.