South Platte River: Ducks Unlimited is restoring and creating habitat for water fowl

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From the Greeley Tribune (Dan England):

The idea for Ducks Unlimited is to recharge and in some cases recreate wetlands, and while the idea isn’t entirely new, it has water officials wondering whether it’s the wave — no pun intended — of the future. The organization siphons off excess flows from rivers in the spring through a diversion or a pump installed at the river. It then runs the water off either right next to the river or maybe as far as a few miles away. The water creates wetlands duck habitat. The water then sinks into the ground, where it eventually returns to the river in the summer, when water is needed the most. Underground pipelines carry the water to the location if it’s far away. “We prefer to do restorations,” said Greg Kernohan, manager of conservation programs in Colorado and Wyoming, “but on occasion we can basically create these wetlands out of nowhere.” Areas that seem to fit best include naturally occurring sandhills and basins, flood plain meadows from irrigation and marginal farmland, Kernohan said. Ducks Unlimited sees unlimited potential along the South Platte in Weld because marginal farmland tends to work fairly well. The organization has done several projects in Weld, including the relatively new Centennial State Wildlife Area, but really is just now taking a hard look at the county to see what else it can accomplish.

Part of the reason for that is the organization believes the best way to create wetlands is to appeal to farmers in the area to get them to “fowl” a portion of their property. They agree not to irrigate as much land and use those credits to flood another area to create the wetlands habitat, Kernohan said. Ducks Unlimited will help with this and in some cases helps cover the costs associated with it as long as the farmer maintains the land once it’s been “fowled.” Those decisions can be profitable for farmers, who discover they can charge up to $3,500 per gun to hunt on their new waterfowl habitat.

More restoration coverage here.

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