Midwest Region


For Immediate Release: Oct. 24, 2011


Tina Shaw, 612-713-5331

Restoring America’s Great Outdoors at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

Speakers for the Wetland Restoration Celebration at Shiawassee NWR

Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partners from around the region celebrated the Shiawassee Flats Wetland Restoration project in Michigan on Friday, Oct. 2011. Pictured (left to right): Director of Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes Patty Birkholz, Jake Bennett - Cong. Kildee, Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge Manager Steve Kahl, USFWS Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius, Dusty Houser - Sen. Levin, Tom Smith - Cong. Camp Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Director of the Great Lakes and Atlantic Region of Ducks Unlimited Becky Humphries and Mike Kelly of The Conservation Fund and director of the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)


Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) partners from around the region celebrated the Shiawassee Flats Wetland Restoration project in Michigan on Friday, Oct. 2011. Regional Director Tom Melius and Deputy Regional Director were on hand to mark the special occasion.

“Not only am I proud that this is the first project completed under President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, I am impressed by the efficiency and coordination that made this project a reality,” remarked Melius.

The project involved the reclaiming 141-acres of farmlands and reconnecting hydrologic systems to the Flint River. This effort was an important piece in the conservation mosaic that is happening in the Shiawassee Flats Wetland and was a collaboration between many partners, with Ducks Unlimited the principle.

While there were many hands involved in this success story, Melius took time to recognize the efforts of Refuge Manager Steve Kahl and the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region Joint Venture for maximizing the ‘bird benefit’ of partnering with Ducks Unlimited.

“Kahl was able, through the Joint Venture program to leverage GLRI grant resources and bring DU expertise, our long-trusted conservation partners, to get the work done,” noted Melius.

Already recognized by the Audubon Society as a globally Important Bird Area, Shiawassee Refuge and the neighboring state lands, will attract even more bird activity. Even though construction on this site only finished up a little more than a year ago, Refuge staff have already seen waterfowl and shorebirds on site, Green-winged teal and Northern shovelers among them.

As this newly restored moist soil unit is converted in the upcoming year, the sunflowers currently coloring the landscape will be replaced by sedges and wild grasses and even more birds, like the Northern pintail and American wigeon, are expected to join in to feed and rest during migration.

Thanks to the help of DU, Shiawassee Refuge is turning back time on the landscape and welcoming back shorebirds like the Dunlin, Lesser Yellowlegs and Least sandpiper to get their feet wet along the water’s edge.

This increase in wildlife populations and diversity also gives visiting birders and photographers even more opportunities as they take in the auto tour that passes by this area.

It is well known that recreational opportunities like birding, fishing and hiking are good for the economy, but it is also important to note that the work that goes in to restoring those lands is as well.

Economically speaking, this restoration project benefited people as well as wildlife. With more than 1,500 man-hours for local contractors—from engineering specialists and heavy equipment operators, to pipe installers and the folks working on erosion control—conservation is good for jobs.



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Last updated: June 15, 2016