Sen. Chris Coons (DE) met with Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers last week to tour two Ducks Unlimited projects near Middletown, Del. The first stop on the tour was the Brandywine Hundred Rod and Gun Club, where DU has restored 4 acres of shallow-water wetland habitat and an additional 18 acres of surrounding grass buffer. The second site, Betts Farm, is a 432-acre tract owned and managed by Delaware Wild Lands (DWL). DU and DWL recently identified an 11-acre area of the farm with high restoration potential; construction is slated to begin no later than next spring.
"Viewing a recently restored wetland as well as a future project was an excellent opportunity to showcase the effectiveness of DU projects to Senator Coons," said Bernie Marczyk, director of conservation programs for DU's Annapolis field office.
While visiting the sites, DU staff discussed how these wetlands and numerous other restoration projects in Delaware serve as an important means not only for providing critical habitat in an area vital to wintering waterfowl on the Atlantic Coast, but also for contributing to water quality and the overall quality of life in the region.
Sen. Coons presented letters of appreciation for DU President John Newman and a number of Delaware DU committee members, lauding the organization for 75 years of successful wetlands conservation. In addition to recognizing DU's milestone anniversary, Sen. Coons also announced his co-sponsorship of S. 2282, a bill to reauthorize funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Since NAWCA's inception in 1989, its funds have contributed to the conservation of nearly 26 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands across North America; without these funds, conservation cannot continue at its current pace.
Another important topic of discussion during the tour was the federal duck stamp. Since 1934, the duck stamp has served as a critical source of conservation funding and has added more than 5.3 million acres of waterfowl habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The cost of the stamps has remained at $15 since 1991, failing to keep pace with inflation. DU staff and volunteers encouraged Sen. Coons to support bumping the stamp's cost to $25 to increase its purchasing power and directly affect the amount of waterfowl habitat conserved in North America.