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Ducks Unlimited Helps Protect Key Duck Habitat in St. Louis Area

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Ridgeland, MS, January 11, 2005 - Ducks Unlimited (DU) recently completed two conservation projects along the Mississippi River in St. Charles County, Missouri. Thanks to conservation easements donated by Mallard Point Duck Club and Thousand Oaks Duck Club, approximately 370 acres of waterfowl habitat are now permanently protected near where the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers converge. "This area, which lies within the greater Middle Mississippi region, is at the heart of one of the most important migration corridors for waterfowl in North America," said Ken Babcock, director of operations for DU's Southern Regional Office.

Development and conversion to agriculture have destroyed critical wetlands up and down the Mississippi river. To date, man's activities have altered approximately 90 percent of the wetlands along this section of the river. DU is working with landowners and other partners in the area to conserve and restore waterfowl habitats. On the St. Charles County projects, DU worked with landowners, hunting clubs and the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance - a local group interested in conserving wildlife habitats in the area.

"The Great Rivers Habitat Alliance provided excellent leadership in identifying present and future threats to remaining wetlands," Babcock said. "Conservation easements donated by landowners offer a valuable tool for fighting these threats."

The Mallard Point and Thousand Oaks easements, along with more than 650 acres owned by Wilkie Land Company that were protected in 2003, bring the total protected by Ducks Unlimited to over 1,000 acres in St. Charles County. Protected habitats include vegetated wetlands, seasonally flooded agricultural cropland, and bottomland hardwoods that benefit migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and other wetland dependent wildlife.

"Conservation easements allow owners of working farms, ranches, timberlands, duck clubs and other recreational lands to make a difference for wildlife," says Jimmy Emfinger, director of land protection with DU. "Through conservation easements, landowners can protect valuable natural resources, while retaining ownership of the property."

DU accepts easements in perpetuity through its affiliate Wetlands America Trust and agrees to monitor the property on a yearly basis to ensure its protection for years to come. Such protection ensures that large acreages of wetlands, riparian habitats and important uplands will be preserved for waterfowl, other wildlife and the enjoyment of future generations.

For more information on conservation easements in Missouri, contact George Seek, land specialist consultant for Ducks Unlimited (660.938.4646 or seekg@grm.net).
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