Henry County Courthouse — As You might expect, I am excited and dreaming about the county's plans to build storm water retention basins on the east edge of town. Permenately holding shallow water in the basins as planned will allow wetland plants like Russian and American Lotus to grow. The lotus patch in the Mississippi River down by Navoo was noted as the best wood duck producing habitat in North America. The Lily Lake lotus at the Amana colonies are worth the trip/click or cut and paste. www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/amana/lil.htm
From six to even a dozen wood duck boxes could attract a nice bunch of woodies to these new wetlands depending on how much cover can be established. The shallow water will discourage fish, like bass that eat baby wood ducks and also limit the number of bull frogs who prey heavily on the smaller frogs like the spring peepers and occasionally, a big old bull frog will even take a newly hatched woody.
http://www.woodducksociety.com/ (When you get to this site watch the video of Woody ducklings bailing out of a box to follow Mom to the pond.)
Depending on the amount of open water, one cell could be fitted with a rip rap bermed nesting island and if so a pair of swans may not be out of the question - but that option needs to be approached thoughtfully. Woodies are easier to manage.
A method to allow the fluctuation of the water levels can go along way to reducing muskrat damage to levees. It is important however to avoid a design or draw down schedule that allows the basins to go dry. When a basin goes dry the mosquito predators take a big hit and then a couple of weeks after the next rain the wetlands sounds like a bee hive. The swallows and bats will swarm to the rescue but until the balance is restored it takes courage and determination to go for a visit. Draining down to a small deeper pool can protect the dragon fly larva and predatory beetles and maybe even some minnows while discouraging the muskrats.
It seems to me the engineering estimate for the stormwater retention basins is on the high side. I look forward to seeing how the bids come in.