Wildlife for Everyone partners at Pymatuning

State College, Pa. —
Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area – a place synonymous with some
of the best waterfowl hunting and waterfowl watching that
Pennsylvania has to offer – needs some touch-up.

Soon after the 17,088-acre Pymatuning Reservoir was created in
northwestern Pennsylvania in 1935, ducks and geese began using the
wetlands around it for critical nesting grounds and migration
stopover. The Pennsylvania Game Commission enhanced the attraction
and benefit of the area for waterfowl in the 1960s by building many
small impoundments throughout the area.

But that was a half-century ago, and time has worn down the
productivity of the manmade enhancements. Ponds are leaking, have
filled with sediment and are under attack by invasive plants.
Additional wetland areas, with better managed water levels and
plant growth, are needed.

A collection of hunting and conservation organizations, and
businesses – local, statewide and national – have come together in
the Pymatuning Partnership to begin the restoration of those
waterfowl-boosting wetlands, the first 639 acres of which have been
targeted with an accumulated investment of about $400,000.

The Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation has played a key
role in locating and bringing together the many funding sources
responsible for that $400,000, including a federal grant through
the North American Wetland Conservation Act.

“This is a great way to leverage your money and to get the most
out of your local money,” said Vern Ross, executive director of the
foundation.

“This group is an example of bringing together common interests
from diversified groups to make something really important happen,
to take care of what past generations have provided to us and maybe
to make it just a little bit better,” added Phil Poux, director of
development in the Mid-Atlantic Region for  Ducks Unlimited.

Major, in-kind contributions also are included in the mix, such
as the $30,000 installation of a well to provide a controlled flow
of water into a system of new shallow impoundments that was
provided by Moody Associates, a well-drilling firm from Meadville.
The well will allow Game Commission managers at Pymatuning to
regulate the water levels throughout the system of wetland
impoundments.

“They are not ponds,” explained Jerry Bish, the commission’s
land management group supervisor in northwestern Pennsylvania.
“They’re not going to have water in them year-round. They’re not
going to have 10 feet of water in them.”

He explained that about 18 inches of water, timed to produce
optimum growth of food and cover in the impoundments, will best
serve a range of wetland birds, including ducks and geese, during
their spring and fall migrations through the region.

“We’re finding in our studies that a limiting factor (on
waterfowl populations) is when they’re coming back on their
migration,” said Kurt Dyroff, manager of conservation programs for
DU. “They just don’t have the foods they need.”

Ross noted that meeting such a critical need for wildlife is a
big part of the mission of the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment
Foundation.

“This is where the foundation really shines,” he said. “We like
to put our money onto the ground to benefit wildlife. And, this
project fits in nicely with our mission of working with the
Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“While Pymatuning might be in the northwestern corner of
Pennsylvania, it’s important to all of us concerned with wildlife
and habitat, because it lies right in a major migration corridor
and because overall our state has limited wetland acreage.”

Additional partners in the effort include California University
Foundation, Ducks Unliminted, Fort Pitt Retriever Club, Northwest
Pennsylvania Duck Hunters Association, Richard King Mellon
Foundation, RRI Energy, The Pennsylvania Waterfowl Heritage
Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Partners Program, and Waterfowl USA.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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