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Local nonprofit continues stewardship of Ogden’s Kingfisher Wetlands

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 14, 2024
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The Kingfisher Wetlands Loop at Observatory Park in Ogden, photographed Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
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The Kingfisher Wetlands Loop at Observatory Park in Ogden, photographed Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
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The Kingfisher Wetlands Loop at Observatory Park in Ogden, photographed Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

OGDEN -- A conservation-minded nonprofit will continue its work in the wetlands near Fort Buenaventura.

The Weber County Commission has approved the extension of a stewardship agreement with Wasatch Wigeons Association, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Harrisville, for the Kingfisher Wetlands area of Observatory Park. The new agreement will run through June 2034.

Wood ducks, mallard ducks, Canadian geese, California quail and a multitude of other wildlife species can be found in the wetlands, which are located in the southeastern corner of the 78-acre park. Wasatch Wigeons has been charged with maintaining and promoting conservation of the wetlands area.

"We're trying to restore that riparian wetland and establish a waterfowl nursery that the local community can enjoy through the trail system," Troy Burgess, Wasatch Wigeons' president, told the Standard-Examiner.

Burgess noted that riparian zones play an important role in improving water quality by naturally filtering sediment, contaminants and other toxins.

A considerable part of Wasatch Wigeons' restoration work is the removal of plants that disrupt that process while also harming native plant species and destroying habitat by consuming too much water.

"We're removing invasive non-native plant species like phragmites," Burgess said. "And then, earlier this year, we started our first efforts of removing all the dead willow so that we can reestablish the green vegetation in there."

For Wasatch Wigeons, the process of removing non-native phragmites is an extensive one. The plants are mowed down in the spring and the summer, after which additional treatment occurs in the fall. Burgess says that process is then repeated over a period of three to five years.

However, significant progress is being made. At Kingfisher, what was once 8 acres of phragmites has been gradually cut down to an acre and a half, per Burgess.

"One stem of phrag can produce upwards of 2,000 seeds," he added. "So, every little bit we take out reduces the overall seed distribution."

The organization is performing similar restoration work throughout the region. That includes at the Willard Spur Waterfowl Management Area, where Burgess estimates there's closer to 50 acres of phragmites to contend with.

Wasatch Wigeons also has spearheaded the construction of artificial nest structures at Kingfisher and has installed 220 such structures from Farmington Bay to Trenton.

The group will hold its seventh annual Outdoor Youth Fair at Fort Buenaventura on June 22. The free event, running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include a variety of vendors and activities geared toward getting youth outdoors.

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