During the past 75 years, Ducks Unlimited has evolved from a fundraising organization with the sole objective of generating funds to secure waterfowl nesting areas in Canada to become the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. We have matured from focusing on large individual projects and measuring success by "acres of water" and "miles of shoreline" to delivering landscape-level conservation guided by up-to-date science. Our attention and expertise in the political arena have increased because we recognize that a stroke of the pen by an elected official can dramatically impact, either negatively or positively, our ability to achieve our mission. Today, Ducks Unlimited is a more relevant and important leader in the waterfowl conservation arena than ever before.
But daunting challenges remain. More than half of America's wetlands have already been lost, and wetland losses continue at alarming rates across this continent. Two percent of the remaining grasslands in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region is being lost annually. At this rate, half of this vital waterfowl breeding habitat will be gone in less than 40 years. Clearly, our work on behalf of waterfowl and their habitats is not done. In fact, it has only just begun.
Ken Babcock is senior director of conservation–vision and priorities at DU national headquarters in Memphis.