Ducks Unlimited: one vision, one plan for future

Ducks Unlimited's vision is of a world of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. That's what DU's founders envisioned at its inception in 1937, and it's still DU's goal today. In fact, they have nine initiatives to make that plan a reality.

Through the nine initiatives of their Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, DU is bringing the world's foremost experts in wetlands and waterfowl conservation together with the world's most passionate conservationists.

Here is part of what DU hopes to accomplish. By working with partners and landowners, DU plans to protect grasslands and restore many acres we have lost. Scientific studies show that if we can conserve 2 million acres of vital habitat over 20 years through perpetual easements and fee title acquisitions, we can make a real difference for waterfowl on the prairies.

And DU is off to a good start, because DU has identified at least 700 landowners in the U.S. prairies alone who are willing to permanently conserve nearly 300,000 acres of grasslands through conservation easements.

Today, less than one quarter of our original prairie grasslands remains, and what is left is under threat of destruction. Despite such dramatic habitat loss, the prairies of North America still provide the most important habitat for nesting waterfowl.

Another DU initiative is to conserve, protect and manage the most critical breeding and molting areas of the western boreal forest for waterfowl. Spreading northward from the fringes of the Aspen parklands to the Artic tundra, North America's western boreal forest spans some 1.8 million square miles across northern Canada and central Alaska.

This vast swath of softwood forest has earned its nickname, “the other duck factory.” The region contains a quarter of the world's remaining intact forests and 35 percent of the world's wetlands. Annually, the boreal forest is home to between 12 million and 14 million breeding ducks and hosts up to 75 percent of all continental ducks in migration or molt.

DU aims to protect enough forestland for waterfowl to thrive in harmony with the human need for these natural resources.

Another initiative is the Louisiana Coastal Conservation Initiative. Each year, Louisiana's coastal marshes host up to 20 percent of the nation's wintering waterfowl. Since the 1930s, more than 1,900 square miles of these vital wetlands have disappeared and the loss continues today. Every 30 minutes, another area of coastland the size of a football field disappears.

DU has pledged $15 million for conservation work in the region.

Imagine following a migrating mallard on her annual journey. Every year, she travels the same flyway, passing the same rivers, but every year something is different. There are fewer and fewer wetlands along the way. Fewer potholes to nest in up north, fewer bottomland marshes to rest in down south, and fewer swamps to winter in along the coasts.

Now imagine that you can change all that. Imagine that you can put those potholes back on the prairies, put those wetlands back on the wintering grounds.

This can all happens if we support DU. I believe that without Ducks Unlimited we would be in worse shape than we are. I also believe that if we don't support DU or Delta Waterfowl, then we are doomed, because as individuals we can't possibly reverse the down trend. But through an organization like DU, we can.

We are in a race against time, because once we lose native grasslands or wetlands or coastline marshes, it is much more expensive — and sometimes impossible — to fully restore the habitats. The urgency and the opportunity have never been greater. DU is determined to make a difference and you can help. By so doing, you will leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren.

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