By William Palarski
This summer, I had the honor of being able to intern with
Ducks Unlimited. Working as a mitigation
and conservation programs intern, I was eager to explore the ways Ducks
Unlimited works on the landscape to bring about more habitat for waterfowl
To start off, I worked with the mitigation crew, monitoring
and enhancing various wetland mitigation sites across the Prairie Pothole Region. I observed firsthand how much impact
restoring and enhancing wetlands really has on numbers of waterfowl. Land once barren to breeding waterfowl, was
now able to support an incredible amount of life. In fact, while a colleague
and I were leaving a site we had just finished seeding, we were stopped on the
side of the road by a neighbor to our site.
He explained before Ducks Unlimited began restoring the land, the amount
of wildlife inhabiting the area was next to none. Now, with our restoration work almost
complete, what had been marginal cropland was now home to four broods of Canada
Geese, many breeding duck pairs, a host of shorebirds, and pheasants.
This kind of positivity and support from the public gave me
an immense sense of pride and accomplishment.
Not only was Ducks Unlimited providing critical habitat for many species
of wildlife, people were also taking notice.
The second part of my internship, conservation programs, had
me working with landowners and Ducks Unlimited conservation partners to deliver
programs beneficial to both the landowners and the land. With the Working Grasslands Partnership
Program, Ducks Unlimited helps ranchers establish grazing systems on their land. This helps ensure the land will stay in grass,
and wetlands will not be drained. The program is great for ducks, and ranchers
who can receive cost-share to install fence and watering systems.
Driving down the highway, the biologist I was working under pointed
out at least half a dozen pastures that had almost become cropland but were still
in grass because of this program. It was
easy to see Ducks Unlimited has created a partnership with ranchers that will
result in the conservation of thousands of acres of land and the addition of
thousands of ducks into the landscape.
Interning with Ducks Unlimited really made me feel good
about the future of waterfowl conservation.
Witnessing the public support for wetland mitigation and ranchers
working side-by-side with DU conservation programs gave me faith waterfowl
habitat will continue to be conserved, and there will be ducks for many years