Annual Shoot Highlights Wetlands Conservation in New York

Dutchess County DU Fourth Annual Great Swamp Shoot and Conservation Program

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The Langiu family, Tamarack Preserve, Millbrook, NY.

Photo © Charles Flores

The Dutchess County Ducks Unlimited (DCDU) chapter will host the Third Annual Great Swamp Shoot and Conservation Program Saturday, September 26, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at a new location at Tamarack Preserve in Millbrook, New York. Delivering opening remarks at this year’s event will be Tim Bontecou, president of Tamarack Preserve and DCDU; Becky Thornton, president of the Dutchess Land Conservancy; and Sarah Fleming, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited. The sporting clays and conservation program will begin at 9 a.m., and the latter will feature workshops such as an Introduction to DU Projects, Basic Wetlands Property Management, and Land-Use History. The conservation program will be co-hosted by Ducks Unlimited and Dutchess Land Conservancy.

"Our first shoot in 2013 was the number-one single-chapter shoot event nationwide," said Stancy DuHamel, DCDU committee chair. “Our success tells me that appealing to a broader audience by focusing on DU’s position as the world’s leader in wetlands conservation will draw greater participation and raise more funds for wetlands protection."

As in years past, the silent and live auctions will be a highlight of this year’s shoot. Live-auction items are still being collected, but will include an overnight duck hunt at Quaker Valley Farm; a sporting day at Tamarack Preserve; and a race-day box at Saratoga Race Course, donated by Berkshire Stud.

This event highlights the importance of New York’s Great Swamp watershed, which drains 63,000 acres in Dutchess and Putnam Counties. This vast wetland provides critical habitat for many species of plants and animals, including waterfowl species that traverse the Atlantic Flyway each year, as well as vital water filtration and flood control for nearby communities and numerous recreational opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts. This year’s host location, Tamarack Preserve, was established by the Bontecou family in 1992 as a hunting and fishing club. A conservation easement has allowed the land to remain undeveloped while furthering its farming and sporting use.

"We are delighted to host the DCDU event at Tamarack this year," Bontecou said. "Having just canoed the Great Swamp with Jim Utter, the head of Friends of the Great Swamp, the reason we all attend this important DU event is clearer to me than ever."

Proceeds from the Great Swamp shoot will go toward Ducks Unlimited’s conservation efforts. To date, DU has invested nearly $145 million to conserve more than 576,000 acres in the Atlantic Flyway, including nearly 50,000 acres in New York.

"Despite the weather, the Great Swamp event was very successful last year, and many braved the rain to participate. This just goes to show how passionate DU members are, and how important raising money for the ducks is to the local community," Fleming said. "New York has a strong conservation ethic and it is only through volunteer efforts that DU is able to deliver our programs here. I am looking forward to another great event in Dutchess County, and thank you to all the volunteers who make the event so successful."

Tickets will cost $250 for an adult shooter, $50 for a youth shooter (ages 12–18), and $100 for a non-shooter. Youth shooters must be accompanied by an adult. Along with the day’s shooting events, tickets also include both breakfast and lunch.

For information on this event, visit http://www.ducks.org/new-york/events/46257/dutchess-county-du-great-swamp-clays-&-cons ervation or contact Stancy DuHamel at DutchessCountyDU@gmail.com.