Ducks Unlimited targets wetlands care

Among hundreds of Ducks Unlimited chapters across the United States and Canada, Seneca County’s chapter was organized in 1980.

The primary purpose of each chapter is fundraising. Proceeds are forwarded to national headquarters and allocated to wetlands restoration projects in major waterfowl nesting and wintering areas of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

There are other conservation groups, the most notable one in our area being Pheasants Forever. They do much good in restoring wildlife habitat, and we certainly applaud them for that. PF committees can allocate funds to local projects and committee members often perform much of the restoration work themselves.

On the other hand, DU chapters are only involved in fundraising and, perhaps to some small extent, education.

Rather than committee members being involved in the work on the ground, projects are planned and implemented by trained biologists and support staff working out of four regional offices.

In the past fiscal year, 83 percent of funds went directly into projects. Fourteen percent was allocated to fundraising and only 3 percent to administration and human resources. Much funding is used to leverage additional funds from other sources.

Since its inception in 1937, DU has conserved more than 13 million acres in North America.

As opposed to somewhat smaller projects handled locally by other groups, DU projects often are extensive.

While there are no major wetland areas in Seneca County, Ohio has been well served. Our county is not far removed from some of the most significant wetlands in the entire country.

A great deal of money has been allocated to Ohio, primarily, but not exclusively, to wetlands closer to Lake Erie. The most notable project is 30 miles north of Tiffin on Sandusky Bay.

That project was, and is, nothing short of magnificent. The Pickerel Creek Wildlife area totals some 3,200 acres, or 5 square miles. And it had almost became the the site of a nuclear power plant.

Instead, through the efforts of DU and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, it is DU’s flagship restoration project of the lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Basin Joint Venture North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

Most has been restored to wetland but with much being in woodlots, brushland and native grassland. It is home to virtually every species of wildlife native to northern Ohio.

The largest parcel was once owned by AEP, the electric company, which had acquired many adjoining parcels of agricultural land. As noted, studies were conducted to determine suitability for construction of a nuclear plant. This writer must assume such studies revealed the environment and ecology would suffer substantially.

Sandusky Bay is a major staging area for many waterfowl species in their fall and spring migrations, having been known at one time to be the staging area for a large percentage of the entire North American population of black ducks, a close relative of the greenhead mallard.

Walleye and white

bass travel through Sandusky Bay each spring on their spawning run into the Sandusky River.

It is worth mentioning, now that the Fremont water reservoir has been completed, there’s anticipation the dam at Ballville can be removed. Spawning walleye and white bass would have an unobstructed route all the way to Tiffin.

But that’s a whole other story.

Wetlands and associated uplands support far more species of life forms than any other ecosystem.

Many DU members are former hunters or non-hunters. Some in fact don’t agree with the hunting culture at all but support DU because they understand the importance of the mission to the overall outdoors environment.

However, without the leadership and dedicated support of the hunting community, there would be no DU and its investment of many millions of dollars in wetland restoration, from which we all benefit.

The ducks and many other species – and the environment -will thank you.

Tony SanGregory is area chairman for Ducks Unlimited.