WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2013) - Delta Marsh is one of North America's largest, freshwater coastal wetlands, where sportsmen and naturalists once flocked in search of outdoor adventure. Once a premier waterfowl breeding and staging marsh of the southeastern Canadian Prairies, the 19,000-hectare marsh on the south shores of Lake Manitoba was home to millions of waterfowl and wildlife, and rich vegetation flourished. Unfortunately, the health of the marsh has been steadily declining for the last 50 years as a result of numerous threats including excessive nutrients from run-off and an overabundance of invasive species, which have taken over the marsh.
The first phase of the restoration project is aimed at preventing common carp, a highly destructive alien invasive fish species, from entering the marsh. To accomplish this, sophisticated barriers are now under construction at major access points connecting Delta Marsh to Lake Manitoba. Construction work is expected to be complete this winter and the project will be fully operational by spring, which is when the carp typically enter the marsh to spawn. It is this spawning and feeding activity that causes massive destruction in the marsh, which has a significant impact on waterfowl, native fish species and water quality. Fortunately, scientists have discovered this damage to be largely reversible, and the positive results of carp exclusion will begin almost immediately after exclusion.
"Delta Marsh has been deteriorating for many decades and immediate action is needed if there is to be any hope of restoring the marsh to its continental importance," said Greg Siekaniec, CEO for Ducks Unlimited Canada. "An undertaking of this magnitude is only possible through the support of several partners and we can't thank them all enough for their investment in the restoration of Delta Marsh."
The carp exclusion portion of the restoration project is expected to cost $3.5 million and is a joint undertaking by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, the University of Manitoba, the Government of Canada and NGO partners. DUC is leading the process and taking on the construction work.
Many strong private supporters of DUC have provided funding for the project, as well as Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state governments, Environment Canada and Wildlife Habitat Canada.
The Government of Manitoba announced today a new investment of $570,000 in support of the carp exclusion project, and they will continue their support of this restoration through ongoing management of exclusion structures and participation in the follow-up monitoring and scientific investigation.
"Manitoba's Delta Marsh is one of the largest and greatest marshes of the world. It has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance for decades," said Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh. "Scientists tell us wetlands like the Delta Marsh are the "kidneys of our province" because of their ability to filter pollutants out of our waterways. This project has benefits for generations of Manitoba families who look forward to full fishnets and clean, healthy beaches."
Over the next five years, a comprehensive science initiative towards Restoring the Tradition at Delta Marsh, a project aimed at returning the marsh to its former glory, will be developed by DUC, Dr. Gordon Goldsborough of the University of Manitoba and the Province of Manitoba.
"This commitment to Delta Marsh is a fantastic tribute to Manitoba's outstanding natural areas and to the future of conservation within the province," said Tom Worden, President of DUC. "Wetlands truly connect us all, which is why we all need to work together to conserve them."
Further enhancements to water quality, recreation and wildlife habitat are expected to arise as a result of the knowledge gained and programs implemented. In addition to reclaiming this once magnificent wetland and restoring its ecological value, this initiative will also provide research opportunities for graduate students, economic alternatives for local commercial fishermen, guides and outfitters, outdoor experiences for Manitobans and visitors, and many ancillary benefits.
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. Learn more at www.ducks.ca.
Photos of Delta Marsh available at www.ducks.ca/mediagallery.
To view the "Restoring the Tradition at Delta Marsh Fact Sheet" associated with this release, please visit the following link: http://file.marketwire.com/release/FactSheet.pdf.