What is a pothole?
A pothole is a prairie wetland, formed during the retreat of the last ice age. There are literally millions of potholes in the prairie pothole region that span a vast area from northcentral Alberta and Iowa. Potholes are at the core of what drives duck populations and experience extreme water fluctuations over time. Potholes range in size from a tenth of an acre to several acres.
Why are potholes so important to ducks?
Potholes provide ducks with what biologists call 'pair ponds', areas in which breeding pairs settle each spring. Often pairs use several potholes as part of their 'territory' and indeed we see the highest densities of ducks in areas with many potholes. There are some areas of the prairie pothole region that will see over 100 duck pairs per square mile. Potholes provide food, water and shelter for adult ducks and ducklings. 'Emergent' vegetation like cattail and bulrush also provide nesting cover for diving ducks and occasionally mallards.
Are there different types of potholes?
Depending on water depths there are essentially four main 'classes' of potholes that biologists use when evaluating spring breeding conditions. Temporary and seasonal wetlands hold water for shorter periods of time than semi-permanent and permanent wetlands. It has been found that ducks do better in areas with a diverse wetland type within duck territories. Each wetland class provide different key elements in a duck's breeding cycle. Of course temporary and seasonal wetlands are easier to drain and therefore are more vulnerable (and important to protect) to being drained.
Why is Delta just adopting the potholes and not the the land around them too?
Delta is focusing on the pothole areas as a priority as they are the most important driver to the future of duck populations. Delta will also include some upland areas adjacent to potholes as well. Landscape policy, like the CRP in America has a much better track record in complementing protected wetlands (by adding some 6 million acres of grassland) and Delta feels that if we can use our limited resources protecting the most important parts (ie potholes) then we can try to influence the upland cover situation important to upland nesting ducks.
How long is a wetland secured with my donation?
By adopting a pothole with a donation to Delta you are protecting it forever, as we are signing perpetual wetland easements. Of course there are long term costs associated with any program but by partnering with the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation, Delta donors are not on the hook for those costs. This is an unique way for you to leave a legacy.
How do I donate?
You can donate today by clicking here. You will receive a tax receipt for the amount you donate as well as the peace of mind knowing that your donation will protect prairie potholes forever, truly leaving a legacy.