DOVER, Del. — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now accepting applications from Delaware farmers and landowners interested in installing conservation practices to help restore critical wildlife habitat of the American Black Duck in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Once the most abundant dabbling duck in eastern North America, the American Black Duck is now facing a significant decline due to habitat loss and degradation. NRCS is offering financial and technical assistance to restore tidal and floodplain wetland habitats; non-tidal wetlands on crop and forestland; and manage healthy riparian areas and streams in targeted areas in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.
Black ducks thrive in the brackish pools between salt and fresh waters with adjacent croplands — sites traditionally found along coastlines. Funding is available for developing tidal marsh habitat on lands affected by saltwater intrusion and planting salt tolerant species to create ideal black duck habitat. Other available practices include developing shallow water areas for wildlife, restoring forested wetlands and controlling invasive Phragmites to restore tidal marsh habitat. Interested applicants are encouraged to sign up before April 21 as fiscal year 2017 funding is limited. Additional application deadlines are set for the third Friday of each month until July 21 pending availability of funds.
“This targeted habitat restoration effort will benefit additional waterfowl species like the northern pintail, mallard and teal, along with other wildlife,” said Kasey Taylor, Delaware State Conservationist. “These targeted conservation practices will also improve water quality and help producers facing saltwater intrusion to improve the condition of their crop fields.”
The American Black Duck is a state-identified target species for the Working Lands for Wildlife partnership, a collaborative approach to conserving habitat for declining species on farms and working forests. NRCS staff worked with Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and state wildlife agencies to identify priority areas and develop strategies to address habitat loss.
NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis but makes funding selections at specific times. To learn more, please visit your local USDA service center or visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov. In Delaware’s Sussex County, call 302-856-3990 ext. 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600 ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100 ext. 3.