Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
Select this button stylePrint Friendly

Two sandhill cranes and a doe can be seen exploring a constructed wetland done by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photo by Lindsey Adams/USFWS.

Two sandhill cranes and a doe can be seen exploring a constructed wetland done by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Photo by Lindsey Adams/USFWS.

If the partners program builds it, they will come

The Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, works with private landowners to restore and build wildlife habitat on their property. These properties wouldn’t otherwise be transformed into wildlife habitats due to lack of funding, technical knowledge, or ability to help by other agencies. In the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula a majority of the Partners Program’s effort is concentrated in the Cheboygan River watershed (a priority watershed in Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office’s Fisheries Habitat Strategic Plan). The Cheboygan River watershed drains an area spanning over 6 counties, has over 900,000 acres of rivers and lakes filled with brook trout and lake sturgeon, and exists within the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds.

Wetland restoration projects are beneficial for many species and these two spotted sandpipers are looking for a quick snack at this wetland shoreline.” Photo by Lindsey Adams/USFWS.

Wetland restoration projects are beneficial for many species and these two spotted sandpipers are looking for a quick snack at this wetland shoreline. Photo by Lindsey Adams/USFWS.

This past summer, wetland projects that were completed by the Partners Program were monitored for wildlife use and wildlife definitely were using the wetlands. A ten minute point count for birds was done at each wetland followed by a visual survey for other wildlife - including reptiles, amphibians and insects. A total of 48 bird species were identified including green heron, nesting Eastern kingbirds, nesting song sparrows, savannah sparrows, yellow-rumped warblers, sandhill cranes, wood ducks, mallard ducks and even a fishing kingfisher. Surprisingly at one of the monitoring sites a sora was heard in the distance but could not be spotted.

Along with all of the birds, other species are taking full advantage of these wetland areas. Dragonflies and damselflies were seen at each site dancing along the surface of the water. One wetland had a small mayfly hatch during the early morning visit. Several butterfly species were seen feeding on the flowers that surround the wetlands. Green frogs and bullfrogs were seen leaping left and right while the tadpoles were feeding at the water’s surface. Surprisingly, while looking at water skimmers an Eastern newt swam out of a small clump of cattails.

Animal tracks could be seen around the perimeter at each wetland site, from critters looking to get a drink or find a small snack. A majority of the tracks seen were from a well known population of deer in the area. Other tracks that were noted were raccoon, coyote and other waterfowl. One landowner spoke of a family of foxes that have been visiting his site for several years now.

The wetland projects mentioned above had been completed in past years but that doesn’t mean newly constructed wetlands don’t have anything to offer. Just one day after the construction of a wetland was completed in Alcona County two spotted sandpipers were seen along the water’s edge. By working with landowners in building and restoring multiple wetlands in close proximity, connected by corridors of woods and grasslands, we can create the best habitat possible for the greatest abundance and diversity of wetland birds and other wildlife to combat effects that may have been caused by climate change at a local level.

It is nice to see these wetland sites making a big impact on local and migratory wildlife. We have built it and they have come.

Our aquatic habitat restoration projects contribute toward the “Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Management” priority of the Service's Fisheries Program Vision for the Future.

By Lindsey Adams
Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

Last updated: November 10, 2016