Washington, D.C., May 6, 2011 –
Ducks Unlimited leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the critical role wetlands conservation programs play across the nation. The group, which included several DU volunteer leaders as well as members of the DU Conservation Programs Committee, met with congressional and federal agency representatives.
"Hunters and anglers generate almost $80 billion in the U.S. economy each year. In a time when the federal government is forced to scale back its budget, it is essential that elected officials understand the positive economic impact conservation programs provide for our nation," Scott Sutherland, director of the Governmental Affairs Office for DU, said. "These meetings provide a great way for DU to educate Congress and other national leaders on how important waterfowl-related issues are to their constituents."
The Ducks Unlimited Governmental Affairs Office, which organized the fly-in, scheduled DU volunteers for more than 30 appointments with policymakers. During these meetings, DU volunteers were able showcase how waterfowl-related initiatives, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act
, positively impact the economies of local communities across the nation.
While the fly-in primarily focused on congressional visits, several key DU volunteers also met with top ranking federal agency officials, including the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. During a private meeting with Secretary Salazar, the group discussed the importance of saving America's rapidly disappearing native prairies through the implementation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposed Dakota Grassland Conservation Area. The project is part of a large-scale effort to conserve populations of migratory birds by protecting endangered grasslands in America's Prairie Pothole Region
Dakota Grassland Conservation Area would build a new national model by working with private landowners to develop conservation easement agreements that would protect working agricultural landscapes while benefiting wildlife. Ducks Unlimited has pledged to donate $50 million during 10 years for easements under the Dakota Grassland initiative.
The DU volunteers and staffers who met with Secretary Salazar included:
- John W. Childs, president of Wetlands America Trust
- John Tomke, former president of Ducks Unlimited
- George Dunklin, member of DU board of directors
- Bill D'Alonzo, member of the Wetlands America Trust board of directors
- Scott Sutherland, director of the DU Governmental Affairs Office
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.