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The Hudsons & CBWI

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative: Improving Water Quality & Wildlife Habitat

Within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of Sussex County, Delaware, there resides hundreds of farmers that are committed to improving the health of the Bay by improving water quality and protecting wildlife habitat. They also recognize the local importance of conservation and its benefit on their soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources. Sherie and Nathan Hudson of Pepperbox Farm are one example of a farm family with a solid commitment to environmental stewardship.

The Hudsons say that they realized their land was not the best for farmland, and after years of clearing many acres for their swine operations they wanted to do something good for the environment. In 2009, the Hudsons worked with NRCS to restore 128 acres of their marginal cropland and woodlands back to wetlands. Nathan Hudson says their ultimate goal is to have a 128-acre natural food plot for wildlife.

Working with NRCS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hudsons installed the following practices to ensure their wetlands would achieve the greatest wetland functions and optimum wildlife habitat:  

·        Cool season grasses for wildlife travel,

·        Clusters of shrubs to provide diversity in habitat along with food and shelter for a variety of wildlife,

·        Shallow water areas to provide water habitat for waterfowl, reptiles, amphibians, and insects,

·        Berms, ditch plugs and water control structures to restore wetland hydrology, and

·        Windbreaks for aesthetics and wildlife use.

In addition, more than 19,000 tree and shrub seedlings along with warm season grasses will be planted this spring to reestablish wooded wetland habitat.

Today, they see more deer, turkey, and have noticed that the rabbits and quail have returned.  Now they are waiting for the waterfowl to locate it.  “Our plan is to develop a premier wildlife recreational area to be passed down from generation to generation, to provide recreational hunting for my family,” said Nathan.

Their wetlands will help to improve water quality by filtering sediment and chemicals while providing food and shelter for migratory birds, and upland and wetland dependent species.  “The Hudson’s site is a great example of the benefits that can be achieved from wetland restoration and long term protection” says Jayme Arthurs, Program Specialist. The Hudsons’ work extends beyond their operation’s boundaries; they are part of a strategic and concentrated effort by NRCS to target conservation in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Their work, along with many other farmers in the watershed, is improving those critical resources concerns of water quality and wildlife habitat in the Bay.