Warm days are on the horizon, and Ducks Unlimited is working to ensure our waterfowl have a home during their summer stay in Yorkton.
The Harris Conservation Project has begun. Ducks Unlimited started fundraising last winter to create new space in the marshland behind their offices. Now the land is thawing and new species of waterfowl are settling in.
"The idea was to raise some funds to enhance the marsh," said biologist Dave Kostersky. "This marsh has always been lower than we wanted it."
Unfortunately, the marsh could not be made any deeper due to existing infrastructure-the nearby highway and railroad tracks. What they could do, however, was expand the surface area.
The marsh was excavated during the winter. Since warmer weather has thawed the ground, the marsh is now opened up as a breeding ground for waterfowl.
"They didn't use it before because it was too enclosed," explained Kostersky. Now, he can see Mallards, Canadian geese, Green-winged Teals and Blue-winged Teals.
The newly formed marsh is still developing. There are piles of dirt that will take the entire summer to thaw and settle. But once it does settle, Kostersky assured "it will vegetate fairly naturally."
While the marshland has already been successfully enhanced, the project is only partway complete. Ducks Unlimited plans to expand public access to the marsh for educational and recreational uses.
"The boardwalk improvement includes improving access and putting in a floating dock," said Kostersky. "One of our hopes is to get a canoe and have it at the office for people to borrow."Education is a natural fit for the new marshland space, and the boardwalk and nature trail are ideal for children.
"This works great for young kids," Kostersky explained, as children can't get lost on the short loop of nature trail leading to the marsh.
Ducks Unlimited is still raising funds for the project, having $50,000 yet to go until they meet their $150,000 goal. They have planned a formal dedication of the marsh project in August to correspond with Greenwing Day.
"It's a great project," he said. The project is named for Don Harris, a man who has lived in the community and been an ambassador of Ducks Unlimited for decades. "This is to recognize Don Harris and say thanks to him."
Kostersky thanked all the sponsors who have brought the conservation project this far. Ducks Unlimited also looks forward to welcoming new sponsors to bring the project to completion.
"We're losing habitat all the time across North America," he said. "Any time we can enhance a marsh, waterfowl are going to find it."