Waterfowl hunters instinctively look to the horizon. Whether scanning for ducks or watching the sunrise, it's in our nature to take the long view. The same is true of Ducks Unlimited. Since DU's founding in 1937, we've focused on the future, aiming to secure healthy habitat and strong waterfowl populations for generations to come. It's in that same spirit that Ducks Unlimited launched Wetlands for Tomorrow in 2004, the most ambitious conservation campaign in history.
Through Wetlands for Tomorrow, Ducks Unlimited set an unprecedented goal of raising $1.7 billion by the end of 2010. We asked DU's leaders and supporters to stand with us in the name of wetlands and waterfowl conservation—across the continent—in full force. And they answered the call. Thanks to the hard work, generosity and dedication of countless DU supporters, we are optimistic that we will meet our ambitious fund-raising goal. Funds raised through this campaign so far have helped DU conserve 1.2 million acres of vital waterfowl habitat in the United States alone. From new members who joined to save an acre of habitat to Major Sponsors who witnessed key waterfowl habitats being destroyed and then made a commitment to protect entire landscapes, DU's success belongs to you. Thank you for all you've done to build a brighter future for North America's wetlands and waterfowl.
While 2010 marks the end of the Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, it also marks the beginning of a new era for Ducks Unlimited. With new leadership at the helm and a new organizational structure in place, we're poised to tackle the most imposing challenges facing waterfowl and their habitats. But it won't be easy. The threats to North America's wetlands and waterfowl are becoming more complex every year. The ducks need our help now more than ever. But with your continued support, DU will face these challenges head-on with science-based, landscape-level conservation programs.
The good news is, we're making progress. Despite tremendous economic uncertainty, Ducks Unlimited conserved nearly 110,000 acres in the last fiscal year alone. Every acre DU conserves is strategically selected for its importance to North America's waterfowl. Our scientists use cutting-edge technology to identify the most important, threatened waterfowl habitats on this continent and then carefully identify the most efficient ways to conserve them.
On the prairies, we continue to lose irreplaceable native grasslands, but our efforts to save these habitats are gaining ground as we continue to chip away at the lengthy list of landowners wishing to preserve their family heritage with a conservation easement. Thanks to the Rescue the Duck Factory campaign, DU and its partners have secured more than 130,000 acres of wetlands and grasslands in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region. This is the kind of progress that makes a difference for the ducks.
Farther south, the Louisiana coast suffered another setback this year with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This tragedy underscored the urgency of conserving and restoring coastal marshes—an effort DU has championed for more than 20 years. This year, DU celebrated more than 100,000 acres conserved in coastal Louisiana.
At the beginning of the Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, Canada's boreal forest was under siege with no protection plan in place for its immense wetland resources. Today, with the help of The Pew Charitable Trusts, DU and partners have worked with corporations, governments, and native peoples to protect the beauty and vitality of this vast region, ensuring that future generations of people and waterfowl can thrive in these working forests.
Looking back on the success of this campaign, we also look forward to new challenges and opportunities to fulfill our conservation mission. Thank you for standing with Ducks Unlimited to ensure that we have wetlands for tomorrow. Together we stand as a united force for conservation. A force for waterfowl. A force for the future.
John Pope, President
Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer