Wetlands are vitally important in the PLJV region. Each year, they host hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, with many species stopping on their long-distance journeys to eat and build up strength to make it to their destination. Due to the importance of these wetlands, many of them are under state or federal management and two — Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge — have received international recognition because of their significance on a continental scale.
Large wetland complexes should continue to be maintained in conditions that will provide suitable roosting and feeding habitat for migrating and wintering shorebirds and waterfowl.
There are approximately 1,082,000 acres of large wetland complexes in the PLJV region, most of which are already protected and conserved as federal and state wildlife areas. Our goal is to continue to maintain these wetlands in conditions that provide suitable roosting and feeding habitat for migrating and wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. By doing so, we can meet and exceed habitat needs for these birds, which were determined using energetics models to estimate the acres of wetlands needed.
To see the number of wetland acres by state Bird Conservation Region (BCR), as well as more information on our other habitat goals, view our Implementation Strategies Tables.
How We Are Managing Wetlands
Wetlands have been a primary focus for wildlife conservation agencies since 1980 when the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) was signed into law to address declining waterfowl populations. Since then, NAWCA grants have been an important source of funding for wetland conservation. In the stories below, you’ll see a few of the ways the PLJV partnership is using NAWCA grants and other funding to implement wetland management strategies. While no one strategy will meet our goals, all of the individual efforts do add up and make a difference.
Drummond Flats WMA in Oklahoma
In 2017, Ducks Unlimited purchased 125 acres which are the last two parcels of land needed to completely protect the historic 4,000-acre Drummond Flats wetland basin in north central Oklahoma. Since 2006, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) and its partners have been working to protect Drummond Flats. To date, approximately 5,000 contiguous acres of basin and buffer tracts have been acquired to create a fully protected wetland basin without any inholdings. As part of a lease agreement, ODWC will manage the newest parcels as part of the Drummond Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA), and the land will eventually be transferred to ODWC as funding is available. Once fully restored, Drummond Flats will more closely represent the former landscape consisting of native mixed grass prairie uplands, emergent and permanent wetlands, as well as seasonal moist soil habitat.
South Platte River Basin in Colorado
Ducks Unlimited received a 2020 NAWCA standard grant to conserve over 4,400 acres of wetlands and associated habitats in the South Platte River Basin in northeastern Colorado. It is the fifth NAWCA grant to support work along the Platte River. This project focuses on public properties along the river and areas adjoining properties that have already been conserved. When completed, the project will have protected and restored 14 areas that provide quality habitat for over 1,500,000 migrating waterfowl — primarily Mallards and Northern Pintails. Conserving these wetlands will also benefit shorebirds and other wildlife abundant in the area. Seven of the tracts are also open to waterfowl hunting and other wildlife-related recreation, supporting an outdoor tradition in this area of Colorado.
North Platte River in Nebraska
The North Platte River is a vital resource for communities of ranchers and farmers, as well as more than 225 different migratory birds. With increasing demands on water resources, the availability and quality of this waterfowl habitat has been affected. A 2020 NAWCA standard grant is helping Ducks Unlimited continue their ongoing effort to restore these important wetlands through fee-title acquisitions and conservation easements. The project also includes restoration work such as sediment removal, embankment construction, and improved grazing infrastructure. When completed, almost 2,000 acres of emergent wetlands, riverine and riparian habitat, and associated uplands in the North Platte River Valley in Nebraska will be protected and restored.