Waterfowl Habitat Programs
The future of our waterfowl resources depends on quality habitat. SCWA has worked diligently to
support the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wetland Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat
Incentives Program and Conservation Reserve Program. These federal conservation farm programs
are restoring and enhancing thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat each year. Recent high commodity
prices and tight federal budgets have threatened these programs. SCWA will continue to work with other conservation organizations to promote these programs.
SCWA initiated the formation of the Santee Cooper Lakes Waterfowl and Fisheries Coalition. SCWA hosts each meeting and provides all clerical services for the Coalition. The Coalition has developed a plan to restore fish and waterfowl resources on the Santee Cooper Lakes (see web site waterfowl habitat section). The Coalition promoted the development of the new 350 acre Hickory Top Waterfowl Management Area. This project has been a big success and is being managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
SCWA Executive Director, David Wielicki, is the chairman of the Coalition's Santee National Wildlife Refuge subcommittee. With support from the Coalition, local politicians, Santee Cooper, Ducks Unlimited and SCWA, the Santee Refuge have restored a majority of its waterfowl habitat. SCWA supports the funding of waterfowl habitat improvements at all of South Carolina's National Wildlife Refuges.
SCWA maintains over 250 acres of wintering waterfowl habitat at its Wetland Wildlife Center. SCWA biologists are continuously working with private and public landowners to enhance breeding, brood rearing and wintering waterfowl habitat across South Carolina. SCWA also supports funding for SCDNR waterfowl management areas. We provide expert technical advice to anyone who desires to create waterfowl habitat. Better habitat means more waterfowl and better hunting for public and private land waterfowl hunters. For more information visit the waterfowl habitat section of the web site.
The future of waterfowl hunting on public and private lands also depends on developing the next generation of waterfowl hunters and conservationists. SCWA is meeting this challenge through its creation of Camp Woodie. Camp Woodie is recognized as the nation's leading youth waterfowl conservation education summer camp program. This summer over 400 youth will attend a one to two week summer waterfowl and wildlife conservation camp session at our 550 acre Rimini facility. SCWA is dedicated to passing on the legacy of our waterfowl heritage through the growth of the Camp Woodie Program. For more information visit the Camp Woodie section of the web site.
Wood Duck Production Project
Wood ducks represent up to 50% of the annual harvest of waterfowl each year in South Carolina. In addition over 64% of the wood ducks hatched in South Carolina that are harvested are taken by South Carolina duck hunters within the state. These figures point to the importance of managing and increasing wood duck numbers in order to improve waterfowl hunting in South Carolina.
Since 1987, over 750,000 wood ducks have hatched from 18,000 SCWA installed nesting boxes across South Carolina. SCWA annually maintains over 5,000 nest boxes with additional nest boxes being maintained by landowners and volunteers. SCWA wood duck biologists and technicians work with landowners, corporations and public agencies to install nest boxes and assist with the development of wetland habitat for wood ducks and other waterfowl. Each year SCWA staff and volunteers install between 500 to 1000 nest box units across South Carolina.
SCWA and Santee Cooper are currently working together to replace 1,250 wood duck nest boxes on the Santee Cooper lakes that were installed by SCWA over 15 years ago. SCWA biologists began replacing 250 wood duck nest boxes in the Spring of 2009 and will replace 250 per year over the next five years.
Mallard Research Program
South Carolina's wintering mallard populations have declined to less than 10% of historic levels that existed as late as 1980. In order to restore wintering populations of mallards and to preserve our mallard hunting heritage, SCWA developed the Mallard Research Program in 1994. Since 1994 over 500,000 mallards have been released across the state. In 2009 we are projecting a release of over 45,000 mallards. Banding data shows that 47% of the mallards that are harvested are shot off of release sites. These ducks provide hunting opportunities to public duck hunters across South Carolina.
Since 1994, SCWA field staff has worked with mallard project cooperators to create thousands of acres of new plant and flood waterfowl impoundments along with thousands of acres of natural food waterfowl habitat. The Mallard Restoration and Research Program is increasing the amount of available wintering waterfowl habitat in the state in addition to increasing wintering mallard populations. This will result in more wintering waterfowl for South Carolina. For further information visit the Mallard Restoration and Research Program section of the web site.
South Carolina Waterfowl Focus Group
Dr. Paul Sandifer, Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources asked members from Ducks Unlimited, Five Rivers Coalition, South Carolina Waterfowl Association, and the Sporting Protection League to form a committee to develop long-term recommendations that will enhance waterfowl and wetland resources in South Carolina while also enhancing and preserving our waterfowl heritage. SCWA members are working on this committee. We look forward to working with the committee to continue to enhance South Carolina's waterfowl and wetland resources.
SCWA Duck Hunting Programs
This year SCWA will flood 150 acres of grain at its Wetland Wildlife Center near Rimini, SC, next to Lake Marion. In addition, we will release 3,000 mallards at the site. Banding data shows that 47% of SCWA released mallards that are harvested are shot off of release sites providing direct benefit to public duck hunters. SCWA provides quality waterfowl hunting opportunities to 160 youth who attend SCWA's Camp Woodie advanced camps. SCWA also invites 120 of its volunteer chapter committee members to hunt ducks at the facility as a thank you for their volunteer support. All habitat planting and the entire duck hunting program is funded from the sale of a limited number of duck hunts to individuals and corporations.