FRENCH CREEK WETLAND RESTORATION AND ENHANCEMENT PROJECT SET TO BEGIN
Excess of Cattail Has Impacted Plant Diversity, Water Flow, Wildlife
Work will soon get underway to restore wetlands and improve
habitat for fish and other wildlife in the French Creek Wildlife
Management Area (WMA), the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) announced today. DEC made the announcement along with
Ducks Unlimited, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
(SUNY-ESF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the state’s
partners in a long-term strategy geared towards developing and
implementing wetlands enhancement and restoration projects that benefit
the fisheries and wildlife of the St. Lawrence River Basin.
French Creek WMA, located in Clayton, Jefferson County,
encompasses 2,265 acres and includes approximately 5.5 linear miles of
French Creek. The stream empties into French Creek Bay, located on the
St. Lawrence River. An estimated 80 percent of the vegetation found
within the wetland habitat of the WMA is cattail. The work planned for
this year includes using an amphibious excavator to dig out
approximately 1,000 feet of meandering channels, along with one or two
quarter-acre shallow pools within the area’s cattail complexes.
Excavated pools and channels are intended to establish pathways for the
movement of water, sediments, and organisms such as fish and amphibians,
into and out from French Creek.
John M. Farrell, Director of the SUNY-ESF Thousand Islands
Biological Station, said: “While some wildlife benefit from extensive
cattail mattes, the lack of plant diversity in these mattes limits the
quality of spawning and nursery habitat for pike and other fish, as well
as other wildlife utilizing the marsh. Efforts to increase plant
diversity as well as hydrologic connectivity within the target area
should positively affect local fisheries.”
Ducks Unlimited has been working at staking out channel and pool
layouts within the designated areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
will be responsible for the operation of the amphibious excavator.
DEC Regional Wildlife Manager William H. Gordon said: “DEC is
happy to be a partner in this project. With the exception of the small
impoundment developed on the Carpenter Branch of French Creek, various
plans to enhance the wetlands of French Creek WMA as fish and wildlife
habitat have been a long time in the planning phase. It is great to see
some of the plans become reality.”
Additional work beyond 2008 includes more creating more ditches
and potholes, mowing some of the cattail, and building one or two small
dykes on tributary streams to establish small impoundments.
Substantial funding for this work has come from the Fisheries
Enhancement, Mitigation and Research Fund, established by the New York
Power Authority as a condition of their Federal Energy Regulation
Commission license to operate the St. Lawrence – FDR Power Project.