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Tuckahoe WMA Impoundment Management

 

May 23, 2018

Water control structure and impoundment Located in Atlantic and Cape May counties, the Tuckahoe (formerly MacNamara) Wildlife Management Area (WMA) comprises over 17,500 acres of tidal marsh, woodlands, fields, and impoundments. Six coastal impoundments totaling 941 acres were designed by former Division waterfowl biologist, and later Director, Lester G. MacNamara, and constructed during the 1940s. However, over the 75 years since construction, these impoundments had become somewhat dysfunctional, unable to drain or fill water to desired levels.

Beginning in 2013, the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife worked with Ducks Unlimited, which took the lead in obtaining a one-million dollar North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to refurbish these impoundments. The Cape May County Dept. of Mosquito Control (CMCDMC) is also a key program partner. (See the Ducks Unlimited site for information on their Southeast New Jersey Coastal Projects.)

The NAWCA grant funds were used to enhance these impoundments from stagnant lake systems into a mix of tidal impoundments and wetlands characterized with emergent vegetation (vegetation that is rooted below water but grows above the surface) to meet bird habitat and population goals. As part of this work, eight water control structures were replaced and one additional water control structure added. Construction occurred during the winter of 2017-18 with one additional construction project being completed this summer by CMCDMC. These enhancements will improve habitat conditions and management capabilities to produce critical forage for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.

The Division recognizes that many users, including birdwatchers, crabbers, waterfowl hunters, and kayakers, enjoy the setting of Tuckahoe WMA and it can be challenging to meet the desires of all users. To satisfy as many parties as possible, the following water management regime will be used during 2018 on the six impoundments on Tuckahoe WMA:

  • On the Tuckahoe side, "Red-legger" will be at full-pool during the summer and provide crabbing opportunity.
  • "Lester" will be drawn down during the growing season to allow germination of annual plants for waterfowl, then flooded in early fall.
  • "Merganser" will be under construction until late summer then flooded following construction.
  • On the Corbin City side, "Willet" and "Yellow-legs" will be drawn down until mid-May for shorebirds, then flooded to allow for crabbing and fishing.
  • "Mallard" will remain drawn down most of the summer and flooded in the fall.

Water level management regimes will likely change each year to keep the impoundments healthy and functional under the objective of providing maximum forage opportunities for various suites of birds.

Tuckahoe Impoundments Map
Click to enlarge

Although mud flats are frequently viewed as being "ugly", mud flats contain invertebrates and seeds which provide forage for ducks and shorebirds. Further, it is common practice in wildlife management to drain impoundments during the growing season, when they appear as mud flats, to promote growth of annual, seed producing plants and then flood these impoundments during the fall to provide forage for waterfowl.

At present, the Division plans to leave access roads open to vehicle traffic as has been done in the past. However, this area has a history of chronic trash accumulation left by unscrupulous users. If trash accumulation persists, or if water control or other infrastructure vandalism occurs, the Division reserves the right to prohibit vehicular access.

Areas which had been closed to all use for public safety have now been reopened.

Tuckahoe Impoundment Video (Division's Facebook page.)

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: May 23, 2018