Ducks Unlimited would like to thank those who took action for Farm Bill conservation, and remind all waterfowlers that while one battle is over, the crusade for conservation continues. DU supporters’ voices carry an incredible weight with members of Congress. By periodically keeping in touch with your members of Congress through e-mail, a phone call, or a visit to a campaign stop or town hall meeting, you can ensure that Ducks Unlimited’s conservation priorities are kept front and center.
Like any wise investor who wants his or her portfolio to weather downturns and achieve growth over the long term, Ducks Unlimited’s conservation efforts are diversified. Programs in key wintering areas work on large expanses of coastal marsh and cornerstone public areas in addition to private agricultural lands. DU’s efforts on the breeding grounds include the Canadian prairies and parklands, where nesting cover in the form of restored pastures and winter wheat have been increasing. Farther north, in the boreal forest, there is a greater understanding of important waterfowl areas and increased efforts by DU, native communities, and the Canadian government to protect these areas.
On the U.S. prairies, hundreds of ranchers would like to protect their grasslands with perpetual conservation easements. Without an effective Sodsaver, enrolling these easements becomes even more urgent. Ducks Unlimited donors can rise to this opportunity by increasing contributions to the North American Grasslands Initiative (ducks.org/WetlandsForTomorrow) to accelerate DU’s rate of grassland protection. While CRP has provided approximately 7.4 million acres of nesting cover on the U.S. prairies, the impending decline in acres was foreshadowed over the past six years by changes to the general sign-up and undersubscribed re-enrollment offers. In response, Ducks Unlimited has been increasing investments in other components of its nesting-cover portfolio.
Winter wheat, which is being diligently promoted by DU agronomists because it is not disturbed in spring, is the only component of the U.S. wheat crop that has shown long-term growth. While winter wheat does not provide the entire suite of habitat that native prairie does, it is much better than spring crops. Studies have found that mallards and northern pintails nesting in winter wheat frequently achieve nest success rates of 20 percent. Last year winter wheat reached 300,000 acres on the U.S. prairies. DU’s long-term goal is for winter wheat to comprise 20 percent of the total wheat crop on the U.S. prairies, which at today’s acreages would equal almost 1 million acres.