Ducks Unlimited – Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area Carl Frentress North Unit Expansion
About Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited (DU) is the world’s leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Since its start in 1937, DU has conserved over 16 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. With conservation efforts in all 50 states, DU primarily focuses on protecting resources in waterfowl habitats in five primary regional initiatives. These initiatives aim to connect people with resources to protect critical waterfowl habitats. Various methods are used to preserve wetlands through cross-border initiatives, satellite imagery, Geographic Information Systems technology, and stewardship programs to ultimately recognize each region’s role in sustaining the future of waterfowl.
Project Description & History
In 2022, Ducks Unlimited received funding to construct 238 acres of new wetland habitat at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) through the Texas Water Action Collaborative. The Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC) is a program facilitated by Texan by Nature that accelerates investments in conservation projects that benefit water quality, volume, and resilience by matching funders to on-the-ground projects. TxWAC members that have supported this project include PepsiCo, Facebook, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and a private family foundation.
Through this project, DU and their partners constructed 238 acres of new wetlands, expanding existing wetland infrastructure to improve water quality and wetland habitat and provide flood mitigation for over two million people. Constructed wetlands are a form of green infrastructure, providing ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, pollution reduction, cooler temperatures, stormwater mitigation, water purification, groundwater replenishment, and restoration of native habitat.
Most corporations today have sustainability goals and targets. Like any other investment, corporate funders need to clearly understand how investing in a conservation project would allow them to claim measurable benefits against those goals. To accomplish this, DU works with their Ecosystem Scientists and Engineers to calculate volumetric water benefits using sound science and industry accepted methodologies. This allows DU to break down the cost/benefit ratio in their funding proposals, making it easier for potential funders to evaluate their investment options. For example, in this project, DU estimated that a $100,000 investment would generate 13.21 million gallons in volumetric water benefits annually.
The Richland Creek WMA lies in the Upper-Mid Trinity River Basin in Freestone and Navarro counties. Owned and managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the WMA includes vast bottomland hardwood forests that serve as nesting and brood rearing habitat for many species of neotropical birds. Numerous marshes and sloughs provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds, as well as diverse aquatic life. The area is subject to periodic and prolonged flooding, with an average annual rainfall of 40 inches. DU’s previous project work in the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area was selected as a 2018 Conservation Wrangler.
Through this project, DU and their partners accomplished the following:
Improved surface water quality: Surface water is diverted through the wetlands which filter sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus from the water before it returns to the Trinity River.
Improved/increased aquatic habitat availability and quality: 238 acres of wetlands were created, providing habitat for a diverse array of shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors as well as migratory waterfowl. The wetlands are also home to populations of turtles, alligators, and a variety of native fishes.
Improved recreation opportunities: The Richland Creek WMA, located between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, is one of the most visited WMAs in the state of Texas. It provides a variety of recreation opportunities for urban Texans, including hunting, fishing, bird watching, boating, and camping. Constructing new wetlands on the WMA provides new and expanded recreational opportunities.
With the success of this project, Ducks Unlimited hopes to continue progress and improvements to the Richland Creek WMA and is now in the fundraising stage of a new ~111-acre wetland development unit called the Wildcat Marsh.
This project expands wetlands that will contribute to water quality enhancement and stabilize water quantity available in the Trinity River Basin, and will positively impact this community of two million people for at least the next ten years. Additionally, consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities are available at the WMA with over 3,000 waterfowl hunters utilizing the WMA in the 2020-2021 season alone. Other recreation opportunities available in the WMA include fishing, birdwatching, horseback riding, camping, and hiking.