Top stories for May 18, 2010
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Ducks Unlimited volunteers meet with congressional leaders
Ducks Unlimited is the only wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization that has a full-time voice in Washington, D.C., and last week, DU volunteers exercised that voice when they met with their representatives. Several DU volunteers, including Fran Rich of Massachusetts, Barbara Johnson of Illinois, Sam Smolik of Texas and Jim Talbert of Missouri, traveled to the nation's capital to educate policymakers on behalf of DU and promote wetlands conservation programs in their region and continentally.
L to R: DU volunteers Sam Smolik and Jim Talbert, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri and DU staff members Scott Sutherland and Dr. Scott Yaich take a moment to pose for a photo while discussing wetlands conservation issues.
DU volunteer Fran Rich of Harwich Port, Mass., shakes hands with Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts as Rich speaks with Brown and his staff about wetlands conservation on May 12, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
L to R: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri and DU volunteers Sam Smolik and Jim Talbert discuss wetlands conservation issues.
"It's important for DU volunteers to speak with their representatives here in [Washington, D.C.] and let them know the importance of wetlands conservation issues," said Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office. "We recommend DU members and volunteers do the same back at home, and contact your members of Congress to let them know wetlands conservation issues are important issues, not just for DU, but for everyone."
The group spent Wednesday traversing the corridors of the Capitol, going from meeting to meeting, talking with targeted representatives and their staffs. They educated representatives, not only about issues such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), but also informing them about DU and the programs the organization has to offer. The volunteers finished their day on Capitol Hill by attending the annual Capitol Hill DU banquet, where they were joined by more than 100 members of Congress, congressional staff and federal agency leaders.
"Sometimes senators and their staffs are very familiar with DU, and, on other occasions, we have to let them know what DU does," said Jim Talbert, a DU volunteer from Jefferson City, Mo., who met with Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond of Missouri. "These fly-ins are a great way to meet and discuss conservation issues that are important to waterfowl in your state and North America."
The volunteers, along with DU staff, met with the following representatives or their staffs:
- Sen. Kit Bond, Missouri
- Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts
- Sen. Roland Burris, Illinois
- Sen. John Cornyn, Texas
- Rep. Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts
- Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois
- Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts
- Rep. Mark Kirk, Illinois
- Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri
- Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri
"Every group of Ducks Unlimited volunteers and staff we host during Capitol Hill visits reacts positively to the experience, and they fill an important role in educating Congress and their staff," Sutherland explained. "These meetings are highly productive and show members of Congress that people pay attention to the effects on waterfowl that stem from their legislative decisions."
DU offers support to government agencies in wake of Gulf Coast oil spill
As oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, further threatening wetland ecosystems along the Gulf Coast, DU reminds volunteers, members and supporters of the region's importance to North America's waterfowl.
The coastal wetlands of Louisiana face significant conservation challenges in addition to the oil spill, challenges that will remain after the spill is cleaned up. The Gulf Coast is one of DU's highest-priority habitats in North America. DU has been working on Gulf Coast restoration issues through science, policy and habitat delivery for nearly 20 years, and will continue working to restore the coast to a resilient, sustainable system for waterfowl and people. DU has offered its support and assistance to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to help restore any wetlands that may be impacted by the spill.
Of course, DU will continue to work hard to restore Louisiana coastal wetlands and advocate for public policies that enable use of the fresh water and sediment carried by the Mississippi River to restore these critical wetlands. The Mississippi River must be managed to introduce fresh water and sediment into the marsh to restore these wetlands. The US Army Corps of Engineers will have to do that work in cooperation with a host of state and federal agencies. DU will continue to work with our conservation partners in the region to advocate for strategic, managed use of the river to restore coastal wetlands on a large scale.
Dr. Tom Moorman, director of conservation planning for DU's Southern Regional Office, said the long-term decline of coastal Louisiana is one of DU's priorities, as it directly affects both current and future generations. "We must act on the best science we have, learn as we go where necessary and adjust our conservation efforts as needed along the way," he said. "We must do so with a real sense of urgency. We owe it to future generations to ensure that coastal Louisiana is there for them to enjoy its rich bounty of fish and wildlife, for them to sit in a blind at dawn and see morning flights of teal, shorebirds and wading birds—so it can get in their blood, connect them to the land and foster them to become the next generation of scientists and conservationists."
Members of Congress attend DU chapter banquet in Federal City
Last week, more than 300 people, including members of Congress and DU's new Chief Executive Officer Dale Hall, joined DU's Federal City Chapter for its annual Capitol Hill Dinner and Auction, held in Washington, D.C.
Among the members of Congress at the event were Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Rep. Howard Coble of North Carolina, Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Rep. Robert Latta of Ohio, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Sen. James Risch of Idaho and Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia.
The Federal City Chapter dinner provided DU volunteers and community leaders with an entertaining evening organized to raise funds for DU's wetlands conservation mission. Unique to this DU event is the fact that members of Congress from around the country join with corporate supporters and government agency personnel to learn more about the work and fun of DU. This can lead to support for DU's partnership with government.
L to R: Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Rep. Howard Coble of North Carolina, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, DU Chief Executive Officer Dale Hall, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Rep. Robert Latta of Ohio and Rep. Steve King of Iowa enjoy the festivities at last week's Federal City DU dinner and auction in Washington, D.C.
"It was a pleasure to participate in the Ducks Unlimited banquet on Capitol Hill last Wednesday night," said DU CEO Hall. "As with all these events, hard work and dedication from DU volunteers, with support from DU staff, led to the dinner's success. Close to 100 members of Congress, congressional staff and administration officials in attendance had an enjoyable time and learned about DU. The event will result in significant funds for DU's critical habitat mission—both through the event system and through our public policy efforts."