What clean water means to waterfowl hunters
by Chris Jennings
Waterfowl hunters have bonded into what is now the backbone of modern-day conservation. Their unexplainable passion for chasing quarry through extreme conditions has transformed them into a motivated army of camouflage-clad conservationists. Truly "green," with a little Max-4 and a dab of Shadow Grass mixed in, Ducks Unlimited members—more than 650,000 strong have taken to the public policy playing fields during the last few farm bills and are prepared to engage in legislative battles to conserve crucial habitat. The next mission, the Clean Water Restoration Act, is an opportunity to resurrect protection for wetlands, marshes...and every little wood duck slough from South Carolina to Washington State.
"The Baucus-Klobuchar Compromise for Clean Water is a piece of legislation every waterfowl hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman or -woman needs to keep an eye on and get involved with," says Bruce Lewis, president of Ducks Unlimited. "Currently, 96 percent of the potholes in the Prairie Pothole Region are unprotected. This habitat is crucial for North America's breeding waterfowl populations."
Having the opportunity to place some kind of protection on a favorite hunting spot would be a no-brainer for almost every waterfowl hunter. People would line up to voice their opinions to a lawmaker and might even share a few choice words normally saved for the comfort of a duck blind with the individual who proposed that their hunting spot not be protected from pollution and development. The Clean Water Restoration Act offers the opportunity to place protection on many hunters' favorite spots. This might be these hunters' last chance to protect that slough that comes alive right at dusk with teal, mallards and wigeon as they jostle for position and pour in for their nightly roost.
"Ducks Unlimited understands that we have a unique membership that wants to be involved in our conservation efforts on a daily basis," says Lewis. "The CWRA is an opportunity for the Minnesota diver hunter, the Arkansas green-timber hunter and sea-duck hunters on the coasts to voice their opinions together. Modern-day sportsmen have a strong voice, if they all can come together."
Working as a team—as in every single waterfowl hunter in the country stating his or her opinion as one voice—the group can make a difference in wetlands conservation right now. Ducks Unlimited has created a Clean Water Action Center committed to providing waterfowl enthusiasts and hunters with the tools to make a difference in the future of waterfowl populations and hunting.
In a recent news release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noted that waterfowl hunters alone contributed more than $2.3 billion to the economy in 2006. Waterfowl hunters have proven financially that their passion affects everyone. Taking action offers them the chance to roll up their sleeves and join Ducks Unlimited, the only waterfowl-oriented conservation organization that has a voice in Washington, D.C.—the public policy arena where legislative decisions can directly affect how a day in the field is spent.
"Ducks Unlimited is working every day to put more habitat on the ground and to put more birds in the air," explains Don Young, DU's executive vice president. "That's how we have become the world's leader in wetland and associated habitat conservation. CWRA is only one of many opportunities to come along where waterfowl hunters can make a difference, and DU is ready to help them do just that—make a difference."