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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Policy News: Vol. 2, Issue 51

Top stories for Dec. 21, 2010

Minnesota DNR aims for more ducks in sky, celebrates signing of shallow lakes plan with DU

Staff from Ducks Unlimited's Great Plains Regional Office attended a ceremony last week celebrating the formal signing of Minnesota's first-ever shallow lakes plan and the publication of new state guidelines for creating and managing temporary wetlands.

Supporters celebrate the signing of Minnesota's first-ever shallow lakes plan.
Supporters celebrate the signing of Minnesota's first-ever shallow lakes plan. Front row, left to right: Ann Geisen, acting DNR shallow lakes program coordinator, and Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner. Back row, left to right: Ryan Heiniger, director of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited; Brad Nylin, executive director of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, and Matt Chouinard, staff biologist for Delta Waterfowl. (photo courtesy Minnesota DNR)

The DNR plans to increase emphasis on building very shallow, food-filled seasonal wetlands on state-owned wildlife management areas. These temporary wetlands can be powerful magnets for attracting migrating ducks in spring and fall and providing critical food resources for ducks and shorebirds.

"Hunters want more ducks. We do, too," said Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner. "To make this happen, we are refocusing our sights on existing public ownership. Our goal is to improve what we have and create what we don't."

"We like it," said Ryan Heiniger, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs in Minnesota and Iowa. "Shallow lakes are the cornerstone of Minnesota's remaining habitat. Improving these basins meets the goals of the DNR's duck recovery plan and our Living Lakes conservation initiative."

The DNR's new shallow lakes plan is a 53-page blueprint for rebuilding waterfowl populations by focusing on managing 1,800 of Minnesota's shallow lakes. The plan's primary objectives are to:

  • Assess the habitat quality of Minnesota's shallow lakes so management and protection efforts can be prioritized;
  • Maximize waterfowl habitat efforts on all 200 shallow lakes that are currently Designated Wildlife Lakes or located completely within DNR or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ownership;
  • Maximize waterfowl habitat on 1,553 shallow lakes that abut federal, state or county ownership;
  • Increase wildlife management on 201 shallow lakes with public access sites but no adjacent public land, especially those already designated as Migratory Waterfowl Feeding and Resting Areas; and
  • Increase awareness and protection of lakes that contain natural stands of wild rice, an important waterfowl food

President signs bill outlawing importation of Asian carp

Last week, the President signed into law a bill making it a criminal offense to import Asian carp into the United States. The bill had already passed the House by voice vote after unanimously passing the U.S. Senate last month.

The President signed into law a bill making it a criminal offense to import Asian carp into the United States.
The President signed into law a bill making it a criminal offense to import Asian carp into the United States. (photo courtesy watersafetycouncil.org)

"The Great Lakes are a key mid-continent migration rest stop for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl each spring and fall," said Scott Sutherland, director of DU's Governmental Affairs Office. "With this new law, Asian carp will be far less likely to pose a threat to the survival of these waterfowl."

DU has strongly encouraged federal, state and local agencies and public groups to work together to implement a short-term strategy to prevent Asian carp migration into the Great Lakes and to develop a long-term solution that would prevent invasive species from traveling between two of the nation's key watersheds: the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Maintenance of the current $475 million funding level for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to a successful outcome.

Bill to reinstate enhanced easement incentive goes to President for signature

Last week, Congress moved to reinstate the enhanced easement incentive that allowed thousands of older Americans to make direct gifts to charitable nonprofits like DU from their Individual Retirement Accounts without suffering adverse tax consequences. As soon as the President signs H.R. 4853, the incentive will be in effect through Dec. 31, 2011, and be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010.

Mallards - photo courtesy Bill Houghton
Photo courtesy Bill Houghton

The IRA Charitable Rollover provision that permitted these tax-free gifts expired Dec. 31, 2009, leaving older Americans unable to make gifts to support charitable work from their IRA accounts unless they are also able and willing to pay taxes on those gifts. The loss of these valuable gifts has diminished DU's ability to achieve its conservation mission across the country.

"DU staff and volunteers worked very hard to encourage Congress to reinstate this easement incentive," said Bart James, director of public policy at DU's Governmental Affairs office in Washington, D.C. "This legislation, once signed by the President, will result in more gifts to DU, which in turn means more waterfowl in the sky. It's a win every way you look at it."


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