Ducks Unlimited has been working on a multi-faceted project in Celery Swamp, located in Mercer and Lawrence counties. Starting in 2019 and expecting to complete it by 2023, this four-phased project is one of the organization’s most sizeable endeavors in Pennsylvania. The first phase of the project involved acquiring a 126-acre property, whose historic wetlands were excavated to produce ponds for farmed koi and grass carp and donating the property to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Now, Ducks Unlimited and their multiple local and national partners are working on restoring Celery Swamp by removing leftover infrastructure, redistributing the site’s topography, and reconnecting the ponds so that they follow their original hydrology. The aim is to bring back the original wetland and its many benefits and add necessary infrastructure so that the PA Game Commission can add the property to State Gamelands 151 and manage it accordingly. They also seek to make the sites accessible to people with disabilities.
This project has been possible due to a series of partnerships and grant sources, including private, state, and federal funding. With help from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnership Program (C2P2) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, among other funding sources, Ducks Unlimited and partnership will be able to leverage four grants through the project’s lifespan. If it were not for these funding streams, they wouldn’t be able to create a habitat where Northwestern PA waterfowl species can flourish. Restoring and conserving Celery Swamp does not merely increase habitat availability; it brings other direct ecosystemic benefits, such as increased water quality and water retention to prevent flooding downstream. The site will welcome fishing, hunting, opportunities for veterans to engage with the outdoors, and a site to host educational programs from local schools and universities.