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DU reaches conservation milestone in South Atlantic

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Quarter-million acres and counting

CHARLESTON, S.C. March 8, 2010 – Ducks Unlimited recently achieved another milestone by conserving its 250,000th acre in the South Atlantic Flyway. Public and private lands projects in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are providing crucial habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl in the region.

Ducks Unlimited is conserving habitats like this across the South Atlantic.

DU has completed 185 wetland restoration and enhancement projects across the four states totaling over 151,000 acres, with the majority of these projects occurring on public lands. DU has also protected an additional 128,000 acres of private lands through our conservation easement program. Through both public lands restoration projects and private lands protection, DU is leading the way for wetlands conservation in the South Atlantic.

“Our on-the-ground conservation delivery programs have protected, restored and/or enhanced over 250,000 acres to date in the South Atlantic for waterfowl and other wetland dependant species,” said Craig LeSchack, Ducks Unlimited director of conservation programs for the South Atlantic Flyway. “Our state, federal, and private partnerships contributed tremendously to our successes in the region, and we look forward to continuing these valued partnerships well into the future. At a total cost of over $66 million for all projects, we were able to match every DU dollar with over $7 in partner contributions.”

DU has also protected an additional 128,000 acres of private lands through 154 conservation easements in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia that have been donated to Wetlands America Trust. WAT's principal role is the fiduciary responsibility for DU’s endowment and land holdings, including conservation easements. A mix of both public and private lands conservation is necessary to maintain healthy waterfowl populations.

“The Lowcountry Initiative is DU’s foundation for land protection in the South Atlantic,” said Chris Vaughn, Ducks Unlimited land protection coordinator. “Pressures from development present a particular concern for our region. Perpetual protection of habitats through conservation easements benefits not only waterfowl, but also provides clean water and open spaces for other wildlife and people, while protecting and enhancing our traditional way of life.”

Gifts from DU Major Sponsors that reside in the South Atlantic states have also played an enormous role in conserving habitat for ducks outside of our region, sending several million dollars to the breeding grounds that produce the majority of the Southeast’s wintering waterfowl.

“We are blessed with a passionate philanthropic family in the South Atlantic,” said Brett Baker, Ducks Unlimited director of development. “DU has conserved important waterfowl habitat on the breeding grounds as a direct result of major gifts from South Atlantic donors. Major Sponsor support of key initiatives on the breeding grounds, such as our Living Lakes and Grasslands for Tomorrow Initiatives, is fundamental to our success in saving the best areas for breeding ducks on the prairies. These individuals are stepping-up in a major way to make lasting contributions for the resource, and we can’t thank them enough.”

The South Atlantic is also home to thousands of dedicated DU members and volunteers. In fact, 16 of the President’s Top 100 DU chapters, based on Grassroots income, hail from the four- state region. “Thanks to the continued passion and efforts of our dedicated DU volunteers who coordinate our local events, we have enjoyed unprecedented growth and success throughout the region, while positively impacting important wetland habitats for the ducks at home and abroad,” noted Don Manley, Ducks Unlimited director of fund raising & volunteer relations.

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit 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.

Media Contact:
Andi Cooper
601-206-5463
acooper@ducks.org

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