- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) - Government agencies and conservation groups have completed restoration work on a 9,000-acre wetland area in central Michigan, providing an improved habitat for ducks and other waterfowl, officials said Wednesday.

The project improved water-level control infrastructure at Maple River State Game Area north of St. Johns, where dikes and flood-control structures had been damaged by flooding, beaver dams and burrowing of muskrats and woodchucks. About $500,000 has been spent the past four years on improvements, officials with state Department of Natural Resources said during a ceremony attended by Gov. Rick Snyder and DNR Director Keith Creagh.

“It had been a little neglected … but it’s great now - a wonderful place for duck and pheasant hunting, bird-watching and trapping,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s wildlife division.

Maple River is a managed complex of wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, native grasslands and agricultural uplands that offer habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. It is the largest contiguous wetland complex in the central Lower Peninsula.

The damage from erosion and other causes had made it hard to manage water levels, leading to degraded wetlands and dwindling waterfowl use of the area. That made it less popular with hunters, officials said.

The DNR made the restoration a priority in 2010. One pumping station has been replaced and another built, while repairs have been made to miles of dikes and other water-control structures.

Other improvements include designating a seasonal refuge for ducks, upgrading boat launches and more foot access for waterfowl hunters, officials said.

“These areas and restorations add up, and so do the hunters,” said Pete Albrecht, state chairman of conservation group Ducks Unlimited. “Fishing, hunting and trapping are a $4.7 billion business in Michigan.”



Game area: https://bit.ly/Zq7PmO

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