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Policy News 2.40


Top stories for Oct. 5, 2010
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DU supports legislation that would reinstate IRA Charitable Rollover provision

IRA Charitable Rollover provision
On Dec. 31, 2009, the IRA Charitable Rollover provision that permitted tax-free gifts to non-profits expired, leaving older Americans unable to support charitable work from their IRAs unless they are also able and willing to pay taxes on those gifts.

Until the end of 2009, thousands of older Americans were able to make direct gifts to charitable nonprofits like DU from their Individual Retirement Accounts without suffering adverse tax consequences. These gifts ranged from $100 to $100,000 and provided critical support for nonprofits during the difficult economic climate.

That all changed on Dec. 31, 2009, when the IRA Charitable Rollover provision that permitted these tax-free gifts expired, leaving older Americans unable to support charitable work from their IRAs 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.

"For the people who have expressed interest in making contributions to Ducks Unlimited through their retirement accounts, the expiration of the rollover provision has unfortunately hindered them from being able to support DU's conservation mission to the fullest extent possible," said Jon Rich, DU's director of gift planning. "The good news is that the House [of Representatives] has again passed legislation [H.R. 1250] that would reinstate this important tax provision. We encourage everyone to contact their senators and ask them to support this legislation."

DU honored at Massachusetts State Duck Stamp competition

DU Manager of Conservation Programs Ray Whittemore accepts a plaque
Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Wayne MacCallum (left) presents DU Manager of Conservation Programs Ray Whittemore with a plaque recognizing DU's partnership in the state's conservation efforts.

At last month's celebration of the 38th year of the Massachusetts State Duck Stamp and Print Competition, the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife honored Ducks Unlimited for its many years of partnership with the state. Through the State Grants program, DU provided match dollars for the state duck stamp that will go toward projects in Canada that directly benefit Massachusetts citizens.

DU was well represented at the event, with past Massachusetts DU Co-State-Chairmen Don and Laura Ouellette, recently retired regional director Phil Warren, and his successor, Ray Ilg, in the audience. MDFW Director Wayne MacCallum emceed the event, providing opening remarks and a brief history of the Massachusetts duck stamp and the great success it has brought to wetlands conservation in Massachusetts and Canada.

Ray Whittemore, DU director of conservation programs, recognized MacCallum for his national leadership in support of the State Grants program and for his staunch support of DU during his 22-year tenure as MDFW director.

Through the State Grants program, Massachusetts has contributed $1.3 million to Ducks Unlimited. That money has been matched with more than $4 million DU, North American Wetlands Conservation Act and DU Canada dollars and has made possible the restoration of 351,784 acres of critical waterfowl habitat in the United States and Canada.

Ongoing construction of a culvert at Minnesota's Rice Lake
Ongoing construction of a culvert at Minnesota's Rice Lake

Water-level management to maintain major migration stopover at Minnesota's Rice Lake

One of Minnesota's first designated wildlife lakes and a major waterfowl migration stopover will benefit from a restoration project executed by DU, with quality water-level management as the ultimate goal. The project is funded by an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant to DU as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and appropriated by the 2009 state legislature. Construction crews will complete the project on Rice Lake this fall.

"Large wetlands such as Rice Lake provide important spring and fall migration habitat for several species of migratory birds and are great places for hunters to enjoy the outdoors during the fall," said Jon Schneider, manager of Minnesota conservation programs for DU.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requested DU's help to engineer improvements to the more-than-1,000-acre lake in Faribault County. Specifically, DU was asked to design a fish-barrier feature and improve water-management capability of the existing structure that was problematic for DNR field staff. On the lake's outlet, crews will install two fish-barrier culverts that are set at a steep angle with high water flow to prevent carp and other invasive fish from swimming up and entering the lake. DU will also make improvements to the outlet water-control structure for periodic water-level draw-downs.

Aquatic vegetation important to waterfowl varies from year to year in Rice Lake but has generally responded very well to past water-level-management efforts. However, carp and other invasive fish have historically been quick to re-enter the lake and degrade waterfowl habitat conditions, thus negating the DNR's efforts to improve the lake for ducks and hunters alike.

"It is imperative that we actively manage and enhance our remaining wetlands in Minnesota for ducks and other wildlife," Schneider said. "With so much wetland habitat lost, we simply must maximize the remaining habitat functions of those wetlands while we try to restore others."

The project is part of DU's Living Lakes Initiative and the Minnesota DNR's Duck Recovery Plan. These cooperative efforts call for the enhancement, restoration and protection of shallow lakes and large marshes for both waterfowl migration and brood-rearing habitat.


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