The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications from Delaware farmers and landowners interested in installing conservation practices on agricultural lands to help restore critical wildlife habitat of the American black duck.

The American black duck is facing a decline due to habitat loss and degradation. NRCS identified areas in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia that are ideal for restoring black duck habitat. NRCS in Delaware is offering financial assistance to restore tidal, floodplain and fresh wetland habitats on cropland and forest land within the targeted areas.

Black ducks thrive in the brackish pools between salt and fresh waters that have crop fields nearby. These sites are traditionally found along coastlines. Funding is available for developing tidal marsh habitat on lands affected by saltwater intrusion and planting salt tolerant species to create ideal black duck habitat. Other available practices include developing shallow freshwater areas for wildlife, restoring forested wetlands, and controlling invasive phragmites to restore tidal marsh habitat. Interested applicants are encouraged to sign up before March 16 for fiscal 2018 funding.

This targeted habitat restoration effort will benefit the northern pintail, mallard, teal and more than 25 other waterfowl and wildlife species. The targeted conservation practices will also improve water quality and help producers facing saltwater intrusion to improve the condition of their crop fields.

In Sussex County, call 856-3990, ext. 3; in Kent County, call 741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 832-3100, ext. 3.

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