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Banding Together for Waterfowl

DU brings water to endangered species and ducks in San Luis Valley

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Abundant area serves almost 70 species of birds

SANFORD, CO, April 23, 2008 - Ducks Unlimited is bringing water back to wetlands that once served endangered species in one of Colorado’s most abundant bird areas. The newly restored wetlands on Bureau of Land Management land are part of the habitat-plentiful San Luis Valley that feeds thousands of ducks and almost all of the sandhill cranes that pass over the Rocky Mountains.

“The San Luis Valley is a Colorado natural wonder that provides habitat for four endangered species, including the rare Southwestern Willow Flycatcher,” said Greg Kernohan, DU’s manager of conservation programs for Colorado. “This restoration work benefits almost 70 species of birds that depend on wetlands.”

With funding by BLM, DU created four new water dikes and made major improvements to the property’s irrigation channels, installing 16 water control structures. The property is in the floodplain of the Conejos River, near where this river joins the Rio Grande.

The property, near Sanford, CO, was originally purchased by BLM to protect habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. “These water management improvements will benefit ducks, better use our existing water rights, and encourage willow growth for the Flycatcher,” said Jill Lucero, BLM biologist.

The San Luis Valley hosts some 18 waterfowl species and more than 50 other species of birds that depend on wetlands. More than 95 percent of the Rocky Mountain population of Greater Sandhill Cranes funnels through the wetland- and grain- rich valley, building fat reserves as they migrate from their wintering sites along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico to breeding grounds in northern Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming. Many ducks also nest in the area.

The 300-acre project area is near the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent to the historical “Pike’s Stockade” where the explorer Zebulon Pike and his party spent the winter.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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Media contacts:

Becky Jones Mahlum, 701-355-3507, bjonesmahlum@ducks.org

Jennifer Kross, 701-202-8896, jkross@ducks.org

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