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Calling All Ducks

Calling All Ducks

Berkeley County Farmer Provides Wildlife Habitat With CRP

Berkeley County Farmer Provides Wildlife Habitat With CRP

By Amy M. Overstreet, USDA-NRCS
Communications and Marketing Specialist

In the Eadytown/Pineville Community of Berkeley, SC, ask anyone where BobbyClarke is and they are bound to tell you he is working—either for himself orfor the many other people that rely on him. That’s because Clarke is the localhandyman, helping other farmers with their work while maintaining his own247-acre farm and working full-time for Santee Cooper Electric Cooperative.

Clarke grew up on his farm which was established by his forefathers in the1870’s. He has been working with USDA-NRCS since 1997 when he entered anEnvironmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract to solve water qualityand erosion problems. Most recently, he received cost-share under theConservation Reserve Program (CRP) for a shallow water impoundment at hisoperation, Clarke Farms. A five-acre duck pond was constructed, somethinghe has dreamed about for years, and now, with construction completed, he islooking forward to this October when he will flood it for the first time.

Clarke has known for some time that he wanted to manage his land for ducksand upon seeing the success of a shallow water impoundment, he was convincedthat this was the way to go. While working for another landowner in Pineville,Clarke noticed his impoundment and wanted to do the same thing on his farm. Whenhe discovered that he could receive 50 percent cost-share and technicalassistance from NRCS, he excitedly contacted Lynette Savereno, NRCS soilconservationist in Charleston. "With CRP, cost-share assistance isavailable for shallow water impoundments which benefit wildlife by providingfood and shelter," confirmed Savereno. NRCS Agricultural Engineer YasminMazdab and NRCS Conservation Technician Ann Bentley assisted in the survey,design, and construction oversight of the five-acre impoundment.

The location of Clarke’s land, above Lake Moultrie, is ideal for theplacement of the impoundment. A nearby canal, just yards from Clarke’s pond,will be used to flood the impoundment. A flashboard riser helps regulate thewater levels in the impoundment. Within the pond, Clarke planted late TropicalCorn, Japanese Millet, and sunflowers. When flooded in October, corn will beaccessible for the ducks that will arrive in late winter. Under the rules ofCRP, Clarke agrees not to harvest the corn in the impoundment.

NRCS District Conservationist Dwayne Mangum praised Clarke and his dedicationto farming and wildlife habitat improvement. "Bobby is truly dedicated tohis farm and has a great spirit in helping others," stresses Mangum."He is a dedicated conservationist and cares for his farm, as well as theother farms in his community, and does everything he can to improve naturalresources and help his neighbors do so as well," continued Mangum.

Clarke is very excited about his duck impoundment and cannot wait to flood itin October. "This is something I have always wanted on my farm, and nowthat I have it, I am looking forward to the day when I see it full ofducks," said Clarke. "This is a long time goal for me and I’m justglad that NRCS was able to help make it possible for me." This area underCRP is attractive to ducks and geese and is located in an ideal spot for fallflooding. Finally, Clarke has his wish and the ducks on Lake Moultrie have a newhangout.