Ducks Unlimited's U.S. Habitat Program—1984
After working exclusively in Canada and later expanding into Mexico, Ducks Unlimited began conserving waterfowl habitat on American soil in 1984. DU's conservation work in the United States initially focused on restoration of key waterfowl breeding habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region, but was soon expanded to include key migration and wintering areas. This decision recognized the importance of meeting the needs of waterfowl throughout their annual lifecycle. Today, Ducks Unlimited has completed projects in all 50 states, encompassing more than 4 million acres of prime wildlife habitat.
Farm Bill Conservation Programs—1985
The "conservation title" of the 1985 Food Security Act, commonly known as the Farm Bill, included many wildlife-friendly provisions of vital importance to DU's mission. For example, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers to restore perennial cover on marginal cropland under 10- or 15-year contracts, put millions of acres of grassland back on the landscape in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region. This prime nesting cover helped fuel the spectacular duck recovery that occurred during the mid-1990s when favorable wetland conditions returned to the prairies. Moreover, the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), established in the 1990 Farm Bill and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has restored nearly 2.5 million acres of wetlands on flood-prone former cropland across the nation. Debate is currently under way on the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill, and Ducks Unlimited is working closely with Congress, the administration, and other conservation groups to ensure that CRP, WRP, and other agricultural conservation programs are reauthorized and adequately funded to maximize benefits for waterfowl and people.