Ducks Unlimited assists in conservation of US Ramsar site
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 30 August 2000)
Subject: [Ramsar Forum] Further conservation efforts at the Cache-Lower White Rivers Ramsar site
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 12:25:55 -0500
From: "Montserrat Carbonell" firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Tildy La Farge 901-758-3859 email@example.com
Wetlands Group Helps Protect White River Habitat
MEMPHIS, TN, August 30---A team of lawyers, biologists and landowners are putting the finishing touches on a deal that will protect more than five thousand acres of wildlife habitat in Arkansas. The closing will take place on August 31. The majority of this land is located in the White River ecosystem.
CONSERVATIONISTS WORKING AGAINST THE CLOCK
Ducks Unlimited is taking a lead role in the acquisition and restoration of two tracts of land, including Raft Creek, 4,165 acres, which is part of the White River ecosystem, and the Hatchiecoon tract, consisting of 900 acres. David Marrone, an attorney and Manager of Conservation Lands at Ducks Unlimited, characterized the deal as "hugely important." The two tracts, said Marrone, "support one of the largest concentrations of wintering waterfowl in Arkansas." Partners in the acquisition include the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Wild Turkey Federation, and numerous private donors.
PUBLIC & PRIVATE SECTORS WORKING TOGETHER
"Only partnerships like this can save this valuable ecosystem. Were working against the clock to protect this habitat from human encroachment. The majority of the land was bottomland hardwoods-habitat that is critical to many species of ducks, a myriad of shorebirds, songbirds, wading birds, even bald eagles," said Dr. Alan Wentz, Group Manager of Conservation Programs at 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 work together."
WETLAND DEGRADATION IN THE SOUTH
Dr. Wentz said wetland degradation in the south has been fast and furious. The original extent of bottomland hardwoods in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) covered 24 million acres. Today, less than 5 million acres remain. The LMAV serves as the primary winter habitat for approximately 40 percent (1.5 million) of the mid-continent mallard population. The two tracts that are being acquired are unique in their natural connection to the floodplain. Once both tracts of land have been acquired and turned over to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Ducks Unlimited will begin the process of habitat restoration.
RESTORATION GOAL: A NATIVE STATE
Explains Steve Frick of Ducks Unlimited: "Our main goal is to return this area to its native state. Winter flooding has been compromised by the reduction of wetlands and the 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." NRCS biologist Jody Pagan added that hydrological and vegetative restoration will be critical to waterfowl in the Raft Creek tract, which draws one fifth of the states waterfowl every winter.
HABITAT IS "RECOGNIZED INTERNATIONALLY"
Both tracts of land, the Raft Creek Tract and the Hatchiecoon-are included on the Arkansas Game & Fish Commissions top ten acquisition list. The land also exists within a greater wetlands area designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Says Dr. Stephen Adair, DUs Director of Conservation Programs, "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."
For further information about Raft Creek and the Hatchiecoon tract, please contact Tildy La Farge at 901-758-3859 or firstname.lastname@example.org . With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the worlds largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. Wetlands are natures most productive ecosystems, but the United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands, and continues to lose more than 170,000 wetland acres every year.
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