USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications from Delaware farmers and landowners interested in installing conservation practices on agricultural lands to help restore critical wildlife habitat of the American Black Duck.
The once abundant American Black Duck is facing a significant decline due to habitat loss and degradation. NRCS has identified areas in Delaware (see below), New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia that are ideal for restoring black duck habitat. NRCS in Delaware is offering financial assistance to restore tidal, floodplain, and fresh wetland habitats on cropland and forestland within the targeted areas.
Black ducks thrive in the brackish pools between salt and fresh waters that have crop fields nearby. These sites are 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 fresh water areas for wildlife, restoring forested wetlands, and controlling invasive Phragmites to restore tidal marsh habitat. Interested applicants are encouraged to sign up before March 16 for fiscal year 2018 funding.
This targeted habitat restoration effort will benefit the northern pintail, mallard, teal, and more than 25 other waterfowl and wildlife species. The 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 (WLFW) partnership, a collaborative approach to conserving habitat for declining species on farms and working forests. NRCS staff worked with Ducks Unlimited to develop strategies to address habitat loss and with Black Duck Joint Venture to identify priority areas. The Nature Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies are leading partners to conserve and restore black duck habitat.
Applicants must meet USDA NRCS program eligibility requirements to be considered for funding. NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis but makes funding selections at specific times.
To find out eligibility requirements along with more information, please visit your local USDA service center. 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. Or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/wildlife or www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.