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DU Member Barth Crouch Wins a National Wetlands Award

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DU Member Barth Crouch Wins a National Wetlands Award

SALINA, Kan., May 20, 2005 – Barth Crouch is often called a catalyst for moving people in the right direction. After 30 years of protecting wildlife species and improving their habitat, on May 18 in Washington, D.C., Crouch was recognized for his life’s work.

DU Member Barth Crouch Wins a National Wetlands Award

Crouch, who joined Ducks Unlimited 30 years ago, is one of four DU members, together with three other wetlands educators, scientists and conservationists, receiving a 2005 National Wetlands Award from the Environmental Law Institute, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Highway Administration and NOAA Fisheries.

“This award is a reflection of how well people can work together on a worthwhile goal,” Crouch said. “We focused on positive things without worrying about egos and territories.”

As a founding member, treasurer and grant administrator of the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS), Crouch dedicates himself to securing healthy futures for wetlands. KAWS has implemented more than 100 projects on public and private lands during the last two years.

He also serves on the board of directors for the Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV). The PLJV works with some of the most well-respected conservation organizations in the world ─  including Ducks Unlimited, the Nebraska Partnership for All-Bird Conservation, Pheasants Forever, The Nature Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory ─ to leverage resources and technical expertise to implement conservation projects. The influence of these organizations has resulted in hundreds of completed conservation projects throughout the PLJV region. The PLJV’s mission is to conserve playa lakes, wetlands and associated landscapes in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Crouch recently spearheaded the creation of a new conservation reserve program initiative aimed at protecting playa lakes. The PLJV’s goal is to put 56,600 acres into the conservation reserve program under this initiative.

“We’re trying to talk landowners into signing up for a conservation program instead of using it for cropland,” Crouch said. “The playas’ biggest enemy is runoff with silt from croplands which kills off the fairy shrimp and fills up the playas so that they can’t hold water.”

Playas, which means beach in Spanish, play an important role in providing wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge. When playas are wet, the fairy shrimp, whose eggs have been lying dormant in the dry clay, and native plants suddenly come to life and provide a wonderful feast for migrating ducks and other waterfowl. Migrating waterfowl, shore and wading birds use playas for resting, breeding and nesting areas.

Playas are naturally occurring, shallow, depressional wetlands with clay-lined basins. They naturally fill with water from rainfall and its runoff. There are more than 50,000 playas found in the western Great Plains, with 99 percent of them privately owned. Most are surrounded by productive farm ground and have been altered by tilling, pitting, intentional filling or filling by sedimentation.

Kansas is home to more than 10,000 of these unique wetlands. They are primarily in the western half of the state and are commonly called lagoons or buffalo wallows. Playas support more than 350 animal species and 340 plant species.

Crouch lobbied Congress to have playas considered a wetland so they could be part of the U.S.D.A. wetland conservation program.

Crouch is a regional biologist for Pheasants Forever. Before that he worked for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department as a wildlife conservation officer and regional game supervisor.
 
Contact: Vicki Tyler
(901) 758-3859
vtyler@ducksorg

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands ¬− nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.

 

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