Tye Anderson, regional biologist for DU's Southern Region, and Ralph Putnam, past Florida DU state chairman, recently attended a listening session in Kissimmee, Fla., for the America's Great Outdoors Initiative.
DU Regional Biologist Tye Anderson attended a recent AGO listening session in Kissimmee, Fla.
A crowd of more than 140 people attended, including top government officials such as Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Osceola County Commissioner Michael Harford; Will Shafroth, deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Robert Bonnie, senior adviser to the secretary for environment and climate for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other attendees included a mix of state and federal officials, NGOs, private landowners, youth, media and the general public.
After a general session with all attendees, the crowd broke into smaller groups to provide comments on the AGO initiative. During this session, Anderson seized the opportunity to speak to the group about DU and some of the methods DU uses to accomplish its goals in Florida. "I saw this breakout session as a valuable platform to alert fellow conservationists of the many programs and initiatives that DU utilizes in Florida," said Anderson. "For example, I mentioned the Federal Duck Stamp, its role in conservation historically, and in habitat conservation in both Florida and the Prairie Pothole Region and the need to increase the purchasing power by increasing the cost of future stamps. Ralph and I also highlighted the migratory waterfowl connection between the PPR and Florida, and how it impacts both waterfowlers and other user groups like birders and the general public."
Anderson went on to praise the role of programs like the Conservation Reserve Program in the PPR and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the benefits that they provide, such as creating local jobs and stimulating local economies. He also stressed the need to fully-fund proven programs like NAWCA and highlighted the valuable role of DU's numerous state, federal and private partnerships in its conservation work.
Putnam also took the opportunity to present Gould with some information about DU's restoration work and successes in Florida, as well as the state's connection to the PPR.
"The America's Great Outdoors Initiative may be the last and best opportunity to preserve the world class wetland resources in Florida and other areas such as the Prairie Pothole Region," said Putnam. "I let the session's attendees and Director Gould know that Ducks Unlimited is willing and anxious to work with our many partners—and private landowners—so that the resources and wildlife that call these areas home will continue to flourish and nurture Americans' love of the outdoors."