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Policy News 1.26

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Top stories for Nov. 24, 2009
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Less conservation means less access for hunters

Waterfowl and wildlife aren't the only ones hurting from fewer Conservation Reserve Program acres on the landscape. Hunters also are starting to feel the pinch as acres expire and leave the program, causing access to these once-bountiful lands to dwindle.

Hunters in Kansas are already feeling the loss: more than half of the state's walk-in access programs are enrolled in CRP. Other states' walk-in access programs for hunter may also be affected by CRP acres expiring, as the USDA works toward the 32-million maximum acreage cap set by the 2008 Farm Bill.

Millions of acres of CRP are set to expire, and new enrollment in the program will not happen until the mandated cap is reached. Ducks Unlimited continues to work with landowners who want to keep their expiring CRP contracts in conservation, as well as working with Congress and the USDA to find waterfowl- and farmer-friendly solutions for agriculture and conservation.




DU breaks ground on Outdoors Heritage projects

Ducks Unlimited has broken ground for three western Minnesota shallow lake enhancement projects supported in part by a grant from the newly created Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF). The OHF is the result of a statewide election in 2008 that created the DU-endorsed fund for conservation.

The three OHF-funded projects include 218-acre Ash Lake on the Mud Lake Waterfowl Production Area in Grant County, 147-acre Cory Lake on the Hamlin Wildlife Management Area in Lac Qui Parle County and 162-acre Round Lake on the Shetek WMA in Murray County. With November's warm weather, DU was able to move forward with the projects before cold weather prohibits construction.

Lessard-Sams members and staff tour Ash Lake improvement project
From left to right: Council Member Les Bensch, Senate Legislative Analyst Greg Knopff, Council Chairman Mike Kilgore, Council Member Jim Cox, Council Member Darby Nelson and Council Executive Director Bill Becker.

Other DU shallow lake enhancement projects currently under construction in Minnesota include Perch Lake and Cottonwood Lake in Blue Earth County, Hurricane Lake in Cottonwood County and Gislason Lake in Lincoln County. Several other projects will be constructed later this winter and next year through a grant from the OHF once final permits and easements are issued and secured by agency partners.




Interior Secretary urges visits to national wildlife refuges

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced the launch of a campaign urging Americans to connect with nature and visit a national wildlife refuge, saying, "Americans can take pride in the tremendous beauty and diversity of refuge lands dedicated to the protection of wildlife habitat."

"By visiting these places and encouraging their children to forge a connection with nature, they can help ensure vital wildlife conservation efforts will continue for generations to come," said Salazar.

Many refuges offer hunting access for waterfowl, turkey, deer and other game species. Information on hunting opportunities on national wildlife refuges can be found at www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting.

Many national wildlife refuges and associated lands have been conserved in part or in full with proceeds from sales of the Federal Duck Stamp – more than 5.2 million acres of habitat across the nation. Ducks Unlimited is working with Congress to ensure that duck stamp sales can continue to be a powerful conservation tool.

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