Top stories for Oct. 26, 2010
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Ducks Unlimited CEO joins NFWF, NRCS on tour of Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative sites along Louisiana coast
DU CEO Dale Hall (left) surveys flooded MBHI habitats in Louisiana with Kevin Norton, Louisiana state conservationist for NRCS (center), and Jeff Trandahl, NFWF executive director (right).
DU CEO Dale Hall, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Executive Director Jeff Trandahl and Kevin Norton, Louisiana state conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, visited sites in the Vermilion and Cameron parishes in southwest Louisiana that were recently flooded under the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. The group also met with farmers during the tour to discuss their experiences with the MBHI and how future partnerships with rice producers might operate.
DU's participation in the MBHI resulted from a $2.5 million grant DU received from NFWF to provide additional habitat for waterfowl and other birds migrating to the Gulf Coast this fall and winter. The goal of the initiative was to impact 20,000 acres of wetland habitat on lands adjacent to or near Gulf Coast marshes. However, to date, DU, in partnership with the NRCS, has used the grant to impact approximately 79,000 wetland acres in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.
"The value of the partnership between DU, NFWF and NRCS in executing these on-the-ground projects cannot be overstated," Hall said. "During the tour, we were able to see the amazing benefits these additional habitats provide waterfowl that migrate to the Gulf Coast. We need more of the collaboration that made the MBHI possible if we plan to combat the negative effects that disappearing coastal wetlands have on waterfowl."
The additional habitat will help address long-term deficits in feeding habitat resulting from massive coastal wetland losses during the past decades. A recent Gulf Coast Joint Venture study found that in southeast Louisiana alone, coastal marsh food resources may support 1.3 million fewer waterfowl than they did during the 1970s. Research indicates there isn't enough food to support North American Waterfowl Management Plan population goals for wintering waterfowl along the Gulf Coast.
"Using resources from NFWF's Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife, we can make an immediate difference for shorebirds, waterfowl and marsh bird populations affected by the spill," Trandahl said when NFWF gave DU the grant. "Through our collaboration with Ducks Unlimited, we can put projects on the ground to benefit these species now."
DU supports South Carolina right to hunt and fish amendment
On Nov. 2, South Carolinians will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would make South Carolina part of a growing group of states to protect hunting and fishing as constitutional rights.
"Ducks Unlimited supports passage of this amendment to the South Carolina constitution and we urge all citizens to vote in favor of it," DU CEO Dale Hall said. "We encourage all states to adopt similar changes to their constitutions so this important part of our nation's heritage can be protected forever."
The amendment to the state constitution will prevent anti-hunting and anti-fishing interests from shutting down these traditional activities. The amendment still requires proper licenses, regulations and other normal restrictions. Public and private property rights are not affected.
The 10 other states that have adopted amendments to protect hunting and fishing are Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Arizona, Arkansas and Tennessee will also vote on similar measures in 2010.
"On Nov. 2, South Carolina voters will have the opportunity to ensure that future generations will be able to hunt and fish the land and waters of this state by demanding that these fundamental rights be included in our state constitution," said John Frampton, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "The financial contribution these sportsmen make to the restoration, conservation and protection of wildlife and wildlife habitats is huge, and that contribution benefits everyone. Not to mention the ethics and life lessons learned through these activities fosters a true appreciation of our great natural resources."
Vote your decoys, vote your potholes
Nov. 2 is your chance to make your voice heard as a waterfowl hunter. Get to the polls and vote in support of NAWCA, WRP and other programs benefiting waterfowl and wetlands.
With the waterfowl hunting season underway, we are reminded of the necessity and benefits of wildlife habitat conservation. Election Day is just one week away—Nov. 2. Please vote next Tuesday and encourage your fellow waterfowlers to vote, too.
Several programs vital to waterfowl and people across North America—including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetlands Reserve Program—may disappear unless they're renewed during the upcoming Congress.
An important way we can help prevent these losses is by electing leaders who will stand strong for the needs of waterfowl and waterfowlers. Nov. 2 is an important time for you to make your voice heard as a waterfowl hunter.