SRO Director's Message
Using this year’s projected increase in the fall flight, the prospects for southern waterfowl hunters are improved over last season. Waterfowl on the prairies responded to the improved habitat conditions with a strong breeding effort. The total breeding duck estimate in the traditional survey area was 42 million birds—a 13 percent increase from the previous year and the fifth largest since surveys began in 1955. Keep in mind that waterfowl also respond to favorable habitat conditions on the wintering grounds which will vary greatly across the southern region. So, hunters who measure their success by numbers in the bag may not all have the same level of success.
Let’s continue to take the time to remind the waterfowl hunting community (too many do not support DU) that the foresight of hunters in the early 1930’s is largely responsible for the sights and sounds of waterfowl we have today. We must be willing to take action today so that those who follow will enjoy bountiful fall flights forever.
So far, hurricanes have not entered the Gulf of Mexico and coastal habitat continues to recover from last year’s storm surges which impacted marsh habitats along the Louisiana and Texas coast. Our conservation team continues working to improve coastal habitat through direct improvements funded by securing state and federal grants and using policy to drive more dollars to critical waterfowl habitats.
Our regional habitat goal in FY10 is to protect 21,200 acres and to enhance habitat on 41,200 acres. These acres will be added to our significant all time accomplishment of over 1.6 million conserved acres in the southern region.
The majority (80%) of the $17.9 million dollars required to achieve our FY 10 habitat goals will come from our state and federal partners. Major Sponsors continue to step up to ensure that waterfowl will return to the breeding grounds ready to reproduce. In FY10, major sponsors are expected to provide 12% of the SRO’s revenue budget.
The SRO’s objective is to continue providing wetland habitat for waterfowl in the south while working to send increasing dollars for our important breeding ground work. In FY10 the SRO will be responsible for securing $1.37 million from states to fund DU breeding habitat in Canada. Also, we are making good progress toward developing a mitigation banking program which will result in net unrestricted revenue.
SRO staff remain focused on a singular goal, “to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever”. I ask that you remain focused on your job responsibilities which include assisting Development and Field Operations. I know I can count on all of you to rise to the challenges ahead.
Curtis Hopkins, Ph.D.