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Ducks Unlimited celebrates World Wetlands Day

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DU encourages members and supporters to acknowledge wetlands conservation issues today

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Feb. 2, 2010 – Conservationists across the globe are celebrating World Wetlands Day, recognizing the importance of these valuable ecosystems for humans and wildlife alike. DU strives to raise public awareness about the benefits of wetlands as waterfowl habitat and a key to water quality, and World Wetlands Day focuses on conservation solutions for these critical parts of our landscape.

This year's theme, "Caring for Wetlands – an Answer to Climate Change," focuses on the impact of climate change on wetlands, and the role of wetlands in reducing the effects of climate change. Ducks Unlimited's wetlands conservation and restoration work across North America has been protecting watersheds for more than 70 years and has conserved more than 13 million acres of waterfowl and wildlife habitat.

"It is obvious that in addition to providing critical habitat for tens of millions of waterfowl, wetlands also provide benefits such as filtering our drinking water and reducing flooding," says Dr. Scott Yaich, director of conservation operations for Ducks Unlimited. "World Wetlands Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the issues wetlands are facing in this day and age. Judicial and administrative decisions over the last decade have drastically reduced protection for many of our nation's wetlands. This is as important an issue as waterfowl conservation and Ducks Unlimited has faced. In addition, it not only affects the water we rely on for recreational use, it affects the nation's drinking water, fish habitat, and irrigation water."

Geographically isolated wetlands, like prairie potholes and playa lakes, make up some of the most important habitats for waterfowl as well benefiting agricultural irrigation and drinking water. Today, well over 20 million acres of wetlands are unprotected from being filled, drained or polluted.

Ducks Unlimited staff and volunteers in Washington, D.C., and across the nation are working with Congress and state and federal agencies to develop and support legislation in Congress to restore these protections. More than half of America's original wetlands have already been lost, and the United States continues to lose more than 80,000 acres of wetlands – most important to waterfowl – every year.

"Our organizational focus is on healthy waterfowl populations, but the issues that most directly effect healthy waterfowl populations and wetlands also have become everyone's problem," Yaich explains. "World Wetlands Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the threats to wetlands, but every day is Wetlands Day at Ducks Unlimited. As the leader in wetlands and associated habitat conservation, our members, volunteers and supporters are always thinking about how we can best make a difference in wetlands conservation for the future."

For more information on DU's efforts to protect isolated wetlands, please see www.ducks.org/cleanwater.

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 13 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.

Chris Jennings
cjennings@ducks.org
901.758.3732

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