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Ducks Unlimited Cooperator Receives Prestigious Award in Louisiana

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Monroe, LA, December 21, 2004 - Ducks Unlimited is pleased to announce that one of its private lands cooperators, Mr. Joe Banks from Mangham, LA, was the winner of the 2004 Waterfowl Management Farm of the Year Award, sponsored by Rural Sportsman and Benelli USA.

Banks, working through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) administered by the USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and with assistance from Ducks Unlimited (DU), has restored 500 acres of marginal farmland into functional wetland habitat. He currently has an additional 4,800 acres of farmland being converted to wetlands that will benefit migratory waterfowl, upland game, shorebirds, and other wetland dependent wildlife.

Nick Smith, Regional Biologist with DU, has witnessed the benefits of wetland restoration first-hand. "Through this unique conservation partnership, NRCS and DU have converted marginal farmland into high quality waterfowl habitat through various restoration techniques including planting bottomland hardwood seedlings and wetland hydrology restoration, also known as moist soil management," said Smith. "Moist soil management is the draw-down of water to promote germination of native plants on exposed mudflats during spring / summer months and the subsequent re-flooding of the same areas during fall migration, thus providing beneficial food resources to wintering waterfowl."

The intensive management practices used on this farm make it an excellent demonstration area for moist soil management. In June 2003, Banks volunteered to work with the Louisiana Waterfowl Project and host a Moist Soil Management Workshop on his property. Thirty landowners and habitat managers attended the workshop, where NRCS and DU biologists explained the conservation methods and techniques used to restore wetlands habitat on this project. Mr. Banks participates in the Louisiana Waterfowl Project, a private lands initiative sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA - NRCS, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"Restoration of wetland hydrology is essential to return vast areas of marginal farmland in Louisiana into a sustainable ecosystem," says Robbie Howard, Regional Biologist with DU, when asked about the significance of this project. "Joe Banks, who is a Life Sponsor of DU, has demonstrated his commitment and passion to restoring wetland and upland habitat on his property for the benefit of many wildlife species. We are pleased that he won this award"

Contact: Chad Manlove, Manager of Conservation Planning, cmanlove@ducks.org
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