irrigation-cropGovernment officials hope to turn 150,000 acres of farmland into wetlands by Aug. 15 to be ready for migratory birds that would otherwise be visiting their usual Gulf of Mexico wintering grounds which are threatened by oil.

Across eight states, farmers with fallow fields of rice and crawfish will try to provide an alternative for some of the tens of millions of ducks, geese and shorebirds that are beginning to make their way south.

“Hopefully, we can help,” said Craig Gautreaux, who has dedicated 762 acres to the project about 90 miles inland from the Gulf under a three-year, $132,441 contract that likely will cover his costs but provide little if any profit. “I want to keep the birds around.”

(READ about the $20 million federal project via AP in the

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