In the spring of 1938, a group of landowners helped us begin work on what would become the organization’s first wetland project in Saskatchewan.
Nearly 20 years before, Waterhen Marsh had been drained in order to increase farmland and agricultural production in the area. However, the marsh’s peat bottom with what the locals called “sour soils” didn’t produce as was hoped and following some of the worst drought the area had ever seen, local farmers were beleaguered by poor crops, peat fires, smoke and blowing dust.
This was the scene in 1938 when we approached the community with a proposal to build a dike and restore Waterhen Marsh. By October of that year, and through the hard work and horsepower of many local farmers, a 4,400-foot long dike was built, restoring the 4,000-acre lake and marsh at a project cost of $5,610.
Fast-forward to today. After several upgrades and two rebuilds, the original wooden control structures have been replaced with concrete and dozens of nesting islands and loafing bars have been added to the wetland. Despite the changes, one thing remains the same: Waterhen continues to be a vital wetland restoration project for DUC, providing wetland and upland habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. Waterhen Marsh continues to remind us of our roots and what can be accomplished when we work together.
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