Top stories for May 11, 2010
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DU Living Lakes project receives national recognition
Iowa's Diamond Lake has been named one of 10 "Waters to Watch" in 2010 by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The 166-acre shallow lake is now in a healthy state thanks to renovation efforts led by Ducks Unlimited. DU worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Dickinson County Water Quality Commission and individual DU donors to restore the lake from a degraded state.
Iowa's Diamond Lake – photo courtesy Greg Drees
Diamond Lake joins a list that includes a collection of rivers, streams, lakes, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore and/or enhance their current condition. The project is an example of how DU joins with public agency partners to accomplish habitat restoration that serves waterfowl and other species.
"We're pleased this national list confirms the importance of shallow-lake habitat for migrating waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species," said Eric Lindstrom, DU regional biologist for Iowa. "A diverse group of partners banded together to achieve a common goal to improve the ecological integrity of Diamond Lake, and its future health will depend on continued active management efforts."
Following years of impaired water quality and poor habitat conditions, the project partners enhanced the Dickson County lake by installing a new water-control structure and fish barrier. These infrastructure improvements helped consolidate bottom sediments, re-establish aquatic plants and eradicate invasive carp populations, which drastically improved water quality.
"Improved water quality will allow aquatic plants and wildlife to thrive," Lindstrom said. "We expect waterfowl will respond favorably to these enhanced habitat conditions as they stop to rest and refuel during spring and fall migration."
Iowa bill could ensure funds for state's natural resources projects
DU members were on hand to watch Iowa Gov. Chet Culver sign a bill that could have a major impact on the state's natural resources projects. The bill, which has gone through a four-year structuring process, sets up a trust fund that will constitutionally protect taxpayer dollars dedicated to natural resources projects. Iowans will vote on the bill in November.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver with Iowa Ducks Unlimited and BrownWinick representatives at the signing of the bill to protect natural resources project funding in the state. Back row (L-R): Adam Gregg of BrownWinick, DU Vice State Chairman Frank Mertz, Marc Beltrame of BrownWinick and DU District Chairman Randy Munson. Front row: Gov. Chet Culver.
Iowa Rep. Paul Bell said the bill will have lasting benefits for future generations if approved. "I do believe that the bill...is going to be a legacy for our children and grandchildren in the future," he said. "It's going to set up clean water, air, land, better fishing, sustainable hunting, fishing and trails."
"What really is important is that this bill sets up the mechanism to make sure that we protect our wildlife in terms of conservation efforts in the future," said Gov. Culver. "So this is really the first step and it has nothing to do with a tax increase at this time. It's only responding to the wishes of the people of Iowa to ensure that we have a sustainable funding mechanism in the future."
James Roetman, DU's volunteer state chairman for Iowa, reiterated the significance of the bill. "The future looks much brighter for Iowa's wetland and waterfowl resources," he said. "The passage of this important legislation provides much more specificity, understanding and assurance to Iowa voters and our members that these funds will be invested wisely, and as intended."
DU official testifies before Congress in support of Internet sale of duck stamps
One of the most effective conservation funding programs in the nation may also continue to be one of the most convenient. Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, supporting extension of the Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2005
(the Act). A proposal now pending would extend the electronic duck stamp
pilot program for an additional two years.
The Federal Duck Stamp has generated more than $750 million that has been used to purchase or lease more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States. The duck stamp program, started by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934, mandates that any waterfowler over the age of 16 buy a stamp. Proceeds from the sales are used to purchase or provide easements on wetlands and associated upland habitats for inclusion in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge System. Though it started with hunters, any citizen can purchase a duck stamp and use it as an annual pass to national wildlife refuges that charge admission."
Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office, on the e-Duck Stamp program
Sutherland said the Act made the process of purchasing a duck stamp much easier for hunters and collectors. "In 2005, the Act was passed to make it easier for federal duck stamps to be sold to the public. The stamps are not always available at small post offices and even some larger ones, and are sometimes difficult for waterfowl hunters to purchase over the counter," he said. "The Act allows for purchase on the Internet or by phone, and the purchaser receives a special receipt valid for up to 45 days. This delay allows the USFWS sufficient time to mail a physical stamp to the purchaser."
In his remarks, Sutherland also emphasized the tradition and popularity of the Federal Duck Stamp contest and the role of the high-quality wildlife art associated with the program. He urged Congress and the USFWS to continue supporting a system that will ensure the viability of the contest and the artwork. Sutherland also suggested that Congress explore using the Internet sales process to learn more about the stamp buyers, their hunting experiences and their interests in order to establish more effective ways to market these stamps.