December 22, 2014

Wigwam Bay watershed getting $150k makeover

Conservation collaboration

Courtesy photo
The Wigwam Bay watershed.
Posted

AuGRES TOWNSHIP — Several public and private groups are putting up money to rehabilitate Wigwam Bay to attract waterfowl to the watershed and ensure it continues to assist in cleaning up the Saginaw Bay.

The agencies – Ducks Unlimited (DU), the Michigan Department of Natural Resource (DNR), the Federal Fish and Wildlife Agency, Dow Chemical, Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and Bay Area Community Fund – put their heads and wallets together, and with partial funding provided by a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, put up approximately $150,000 to spruce up the area.

“This project is to restore critical waterfowl production and migration habitat at Wigwam Bay,” said Ducks Unlimited Public Affairs Coordinator Kristin Schrader. “The primary goal and objective of this project is to restore hydrology and viability of the wetland for the benefit of breeding and migrating waterfowl.”

Paul Hess, DU Regional Biologist, says not only birds will benefit from the restored habitat, but people will have plenty to do there too.

“The most direct one (benefit) is public recreation. … Whatever the state will allow there – hunting fishing, bird watching, photography,” Hess said, adding it will also enhance water quality. “Individual wetlands sort of have a whole function of values. They provide areas for flood storage and they recharge ground water, filter nutrients.”

Schrader added that a secondary goal of the project is to improve and protect the Great Lakes, since the rehabilitation will help retain runoff and filter sediments and toxins.

Hess described some details of the effort.

“It’s (wetland) been partially drained over the years,” Hess said, adding a berm on one end of the watershed, along with ditches running through it are the culprits of the drainage. “We’re going to plug those ditches… We’re going to sort of level that (berm) off.”

“There will be a contractor starting to work next week,” Schrader added. “He’ll be moving dirt to help restore the hydrology.”

Horatio Davis, AuGres Township resident, says acreage in the watershed used to be his property, prior to him selling it to the state of Michigan.

“I sold property to them a few years back,” he said. “They bought an 80 (acre lot) off me.”

The DNR currently owns the 135 acres.

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