The majority of lands in the United States are privately owned, and this is especially true for Ducks Unlimited’s Southern Region, which encompasses 13 states from Florida to New Mexico and Virginia to Oklahoma. DU and our partners work closely with farmers, ranchers and other private landowners across the region to promote working lands and achieve our conservation mission.
The farm bill
represents the single largest private-lands conservation program in the United States and provides vital funding for important waterfowl-friendly programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP)
. Farm bill programs also provide important incentives to landowners to preserve wetlands and grasslands, restore lost forested wetlands, reduce soil erosion and provide clean water.
Almost half of the lands enrolled WRP lands in 2011 were in DU’s Southern Region. These programs have allowed conservation groups like DU to work hand-in-hand with farmers and ranchers to restore and conserve millions of acres of wetlands, grasslands and other vital wildlife habitats across America. The farm bill’s conservation programs not only have a positive impact on wildlife populations but also help conserve soil and keep our streams, rivers and lakes clean.
These incentive-based programs benefit wildlife, ranchers and farmers, the environment and wildlife-associated recreation, which generates significant financial support for our nation’s economy. A preliminary report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion on wildlife-related recreation in 2011.
Continental waterfowl populations and the landscapes they depend on throughout their annual life cycle will be greatly impacted, particularly in the Southern Region—either positively or negatively—by the outcomes of public policy decisions like the farm bill. It’s important for DU’s supporters to stay educated and engaged on these mission-critical issues in order to sustain healthy waterfowl populations now and into the future.
Southern Region Statistics
- The United States lost more than 2.5 million acres of CRP in 2012.
- CRP is particularly important in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, where waterfowl depend on private lands as migration and wintering habitats.
- WRP has helped restore more than 2.4 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats, providing important wildlife and ecosystem service benefits since 1992.
- More than 43 percent of the WRP lands enrolled in FY 2011 were in DU’s Southern Region, representing more than 86,500 acres of important wetlands restoration.
- WRP has been particularly important in habitat restoration efforts in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, a Level-I habitat priority for Ducks Unlimited.