Davis & Elkins College students have installed wood duck boxes along the edge of Craven's Run on the lower end of campus as part of a Wildlife Habitat Restoration Partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The project is designed to create waterfowl nesting areas along the creek and adjacent wetland. D&E students worked on all aspects of the project, from site placement studies to the actual nest box construction.
"This partnership provides our students with the opportunity to receive practical experience with habitat restoration and work alongside natural resource professionals," said Russ McClain, director of D&E's Center for Sustainability Studies. "It also allows us to improve wildlife habitat here on campus."
Davis & Elkins students installed duck boxes near Craven’s Run on the D&E campus as part of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnership that will improve wildlife habitat. Helping on the project are, from left, Nick Millett of Buckhannon; Casey Bannon of Hedgesville; and Jay Adams of Fairmont, who constructed the boxes.
The 10-year partnership agreement consists of D&E maintaining the duck boxes placed near Craven's Run and improving the habitat itself. Currently invasive species grow all along the creek's banks and McClain, with the assistance of D&E students, plans to initiate an eradication plan.
"Our goal is to bring back the vegetation that would be native to this type of habitat," McClain said. "Once all those pieces are put together, we hope to see a return of waterfowl to this area."
Jay Adams, a sophomore majoring in biology from Fairmont, made some of the wood duck boxes as part of his Eagle Scout project. He said he is excited that they'll be a part of this restoration project.
"I'm glad to see that all that work I did years ago will be used in the field," he said.
John Schmidt, project leader with the USFWS, said, "Part of our mission with the habitat improvement partnership is to work with private landowners, such as D&E, to make riparian habitats more wildlife friendly. We are very pleased to join the college in this effort."
McClain also plans to utilize the area for natural resource education, both for college students and the public.
"We are fortunate to have the Robert E. Urban Nature Area, Tolstead Pond and the wetland area of Craven's Run right on our campus," McClain said. "Three different habitats provide different types of ecological exploration opportunities."
Another benefit to students, McClain explained, is learning how partnerships with state and national resources agencies are effective.
"Ultimately, the students who worked on this project are learning much more than how to install nesting boxes. They are learning how to work cooperatively and as a community to address human and wildlife habitat needs," he said.
More information about the college is available at www.dewv.edu or 304-637-1243.