An initiative is underway to make far west Kentucky a ‘waterfowl mecca.’ That’s according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials who are partnering with Ducks Unlimited in a $10 million dollar effort to transform 30,000 acres in Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton counties.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife First District Commissioner Dr. Harry Carloss said until around a year ago the land has never before been managed comprehensively for waterfowl. The agency invited biologists and engineers across the Mississippi flyway to make recommendations on how to best manage the area for ducks, geese and other wildlife.
They first identified every structure by map and survey and rated them by performance and determined which needed to be replaced. It’s an ongoing project, Carloss said.
One major project involves a $1.4 million project replacing a pump in the Ballard Wildlife Management Area located near the Olmsted Locks and Dam. Carloss said the current pump requires a certain water level to work and it may or may not work after the dam is complete. Half of the WMA property that’s upriver is uphill, he explained, and in order to put water in farthest last lake, the entire place needs to be flooded. It’s more advantageous to be able to flood selected areas, he said, so work will include installing a pump on the upriver end of the Ballard reserve and using the road that goes halfway through it as a water control structure. The project is expected to take about a year.
After Ballard, Carloss said the same process will include the Boatwright, Doug Travis and Obion Creek WMAS in the region.
“In the end, we will have an approximately 30,000 acre waterfowl complex open to the public for hunting,” he said.
“It will be a very attractive area to come to in the summer. There are many lakes in these areas that have huge cypress trees, great wildlife feeling. You’ll be able kayak – things like that – and picnic in these areas of great natural beauty,” he said.
Carloss described eagles, egrets, woodcocks, herons and butterflies coming into the areas, as well as ducks, turkeys and squirrels.
The project is part of Ducks Unlimited’s Big Rivers Initiative. Carloss said funding for the project will come almost wholly from the conservation group and private donors.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife receives no tax dollars from the state’s General Fund. Sources of revenue come from the sales of hunting and fishing licenses, boat registration fees, federal excise taxes and other areas.