The first signs of spring are appearing in the Southern Region, and they are a welcome change following an unusually cold and wet winter. Waterfowl are finding their way to the breeding grounds, ready to nest and rear the next fall flight. During this time of renewal and hope, I thank you for your continued commitment to conservation, and I encourage you to keep up the great work.
We recently held a very successful regional all conservation staff meeting in Madison, Mississippi. We were very pleased to have our meeting attended by President John Pope, some of the fundraising staff from the Southern Region, and representatives from NHQ. Staff meetings are normally held every two years and include a variety of topics designed to help staff accomplish DU’s conservation mission more effectively and efficiently. More details on the meeting can be found in this newsletter.
Just around the corner, May 28-30, DU’s National Convention will be held in Grapevine, Texas! We are pleased to have the Convention within the Southern Region, and I encourage you to help us have a strong showing from regional volunteers. In addition to the always fun and exciting convention, attendees also will have a unique opportunity to attend the first DU Sporting Expo in association with the National Convention. It should be a great time to renew friendships and share the rewards of yet another year of impressive conservation accomplishments across North America.
June 30, 2010, will see the close of a challenging fiscal year. We anticipate closing the year on budget with respect to our net cost. Unfortunately, we are currently behind on our FY 10 goals to protect 21,000 acres and restore 41,000 acres of waterfowl habitat due to the heavy rainfall events that occurred throughout the southern states. The past year has been the wettest in 115 years of record keeping by NOAA.
FY 11 is shaping up to be yet another challenge. State agencies are still under significant budget restraints, and some states have reduced their grants to DU for our work in Canada. Those State Grant dollars are matched by DU, the USFWS, DU Canada and other partners and subsequently used to support important work across Canada.
Closer to home, state and federal budget issues also are affecting, and in some cases delaying, habitat restoration work on wildlife management areas and national wildlife refuges. However, we continue to pursue North American Wetlands Conservation Act funding for this work, and we also have received some funding for work on the national wildlife refuges through the American Investment and Recovery Act. NAWCA in particular continues to be a critical funding source for the Southern Region that enables us to leverage gifts from foundations and major sponsors. Despite these challenges, the Southern Region staff also remain very active raising dollars for the breeding grounds. We continue to make strategic moves to improve our efficiency, develop new revenue streams, and control costs so that we maximize the benefit of each conservation dollar invested in our mission.
The Southern Region Mitigation Team continues to make progress establishing a mitigation bank along the Louisiana coast and an in-lieu mitigation bank in the Mississippi Delta. We are finding that the processes to establish mitigation banks are long and arduous, but our detailed business plan affirms that that the financial reward for DU will be significant.
The DU Team of passionate and dedicated volunteers and staff has made great progress toward securing the future of waterfowl, but now is not the time to rest. The challenges waterfowl face are large and complex. But DU began during a difficult time, and we have been making significant strides towards our vision of skies filled with waterfowl for over seventy years. Conservation success is a long journey, and we must persist. Thank you for all that you do to secure a future that includes waterfowl and waterfowl hunting.