Ducks Unlimited making a difference

Published 1:38 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

By Staff
North Carolina is rolling out the red carpet for ducks, and the ducks are answering the invitation.
The latest effort was the completion of a wetlands improvement project at Lake Mattamuskeet.
Ducks Unlimited doesn’t just talk about improving the environment, it puts words into action. With more than a million supporters, DU is the world’s largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 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. DU is working to reverse the trend.
In November, DU completed a two-year project to improve water control capabilities on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in Hyde County.
Lake Mattamuskeet, the largest natural lake in North Carolina, stretches 18 miles in length and is seven miles wide. The shallow, coastal lake is the location of the 50,180-acre Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge.
Ducks Unlimited installed four relift pumps with control gates and refurbished a dike and canal to improve hydrologic conditions within six management units on the refuge.
If you didn’t think wetlands were important, the current drought should change your mind. One of the benefits of wetlands is they help recharge groundwater supplies. And during hurricanes, they retain floodwaters that might otherwise damage property.
They are also the home and dining table for wildlife. Over half of the endangered species within the U.S. are dependent on wetlands, according to DU.
North Carolina’s Environmental Enhancement Grants program provided partial funding for the Mattamuskeet project. The EEG program fulfills the objectives of an agreement between the North Carolina attorney general and Smithfield Foods designed to provide funds that promote environmental programs in North Carolina. The EEG improves the environmental quality of North Carolina by providing incentives to develop and implement projects that protect the environment. Ducks Unlimited submitted a grant proposal to the EEG and received $326,224 for the project.
A grant provided $163,899 for phase II of the project, which included the installation of a new pump, generator, associated bulkhead, riprap, pipe and canal gate.
The wetlands improvements don’t come free. DU’s Sound CARE goal — to protect, restore and enhance 64,000 acres — will cost $22 million. When you think about donating to a cause, DU is clearly a good candidate.