Waterfowl hunting will see benefit of the Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund

Published 7:01 am Friday, June 30, 2023

MAHANNAH — Duck season could be a lot better at two Vicksburg area Wildlife Management Areas after securing funding for projects. Howard Miller WMA and Mahannah WMA are both a little over an hour drive from Brookhaven. 

Mahannah and Howard Miller WMAs were selected by the Mississippi Outdoors Stewardship Trust Fund Board of Trustees along with 20 other projects to receive $9.8 million in funding. The initial allocation of funding will be matched by $31.4 million in funding from other sources. 

One million dollars was allocated to the Mississippi Delta Wetlands Projects in collaboration with Ducks Unlimited to restore and enhance wetland habitats in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The project would focus on 4,200 acres of public land within the Howard Miller and Mahannah WMAs and help renovate the waterfowl impoundment levee, replace water control structures, improve drainage, convert water well structures and provide gravel road and levee access. Ducks Unlimited has secured over $1 million in matching funds. 

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Houston Havens, the MDWFP Waterfowl Program Coordinator, said they are very appreciative of the funding. He added they look forward to working with Ducks Unlimited on projects. 

“MDWFP and DU have a long standing partnership that has been very successful in restoring and enhancing wetland habitat across the state,” Havens said. “As infrastructure, e.g. levees, water control structures, etc. degrades over time large renovation projects are necessary to continue management efforts and allow public use. Extraneous funding such as with the Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund are critical for these large scale projects.” 

Mississippi’s wildlife management areas in the delta provide crucial wintering habitat for waterfowl well after the hunting season ends. While a percentage of Mississippi duck stamp dollars and Federal Duck Stamp dollars go to the prairie pothole region to enhance breeding habitat, some money is utilized in Mississippi to enhance wintering habitat. 

Havens said projects will have two years to be completed after the funding is received. They largely focus on renovating levees and replacing water control structures and other wetland infrastructure. In the short term, there could be some reduction in waterfowl hunting quality as projects are completed. Improvements will increase future waterfowl habitat management efficiency which would benefit hunters and waterfowl. 

“Conservation funding sources like the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund are extremely important for continuing to improve Mississippi’s natural resources for the public’s benefit,” Havens said. “We understand that the proposal process was very competitive and we are honored to have this project selected in the first round of funding.”