CLAYTON — Ducks Unlimited has won a $1 million federal grant to restore French Creek and St. Lawrence River wetlands that have been victim to the unnatural fluctuation of water levels created by the construction of hydroelectric dams.
Partnering with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, Ducks Unlimited plans to "restore and enhance" 110 acres of marsh ecosystem and fish spawning habitat with the funds as part of its ongoing restoration effort in the upper St. Lawrence River.
The restoration project is one of nine throughout the Great Lakes region that received a total of about $9.2 million on Friday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the federal Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
"What we're really trying to do is improve the native fish habitats by removing cattail and reconstructing old fish passages we've set up in the past," said Douglas Gorby, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited.
The partners, with oversight from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, are preparing to get the project started sometime next year with a goal to complete everything within the two-year deadline that came with the grant, Mr. Gorby said.
One of the group's main targets is removing a new invasive hybrid of native and non-native cattail that kills native species, clogs up the water flow and drops oxygen levels.
The plan is to use an aquatic excavator to dig under the muck of French Creek and uproot the invasive plants to give native plants a chance to win back the territory.
Ducks Unlimited also will use the grant money to "rehabilitate water level control and fish passage structures" that it had installed years ago in French Creek and along a private property east of the village, Mr. Gorby said.