Ducks Unlimited Pledges $10 Million to Restore Minnesota’s Wetlands and Waterfowl
ST. PAUL, Minn., April 4, 2005 − In keeping with its mission of wetland and waterfowl habitat conservation, Ducks Unlimited pledged $10 million in private funding during the next 10 years to restore 300 Minnesota shallow lakes and their watersheds. The announcement came Saturday, April 2, from DU Executive Vice President Don Young at a rally of supporters determined to reverse the long-term decline of Minnesota’s duck populations, wetlands and water quality.
Nearly 5,000 people joined DU and more than 40 outdoor and conservation organizations to encourage the Minnesota legislature to improve the way natural resources are managed within the state.
“We believe the shallow lakes in this state must be restored and protected so the wetlands can attract and support migrating waterfowl,” said Young. “During the next 20 years, we plan to restore 500 shallow lakes and watersheds in 18 areas across Minnesota. But, we can’t do it alone.”
DU Executive Vice President Don Young (right of flag) participated with 5,000 others at the rally for ducks, wetlands and clean water at the state capitol in St. Paul, Minn on April 2nd. Photo credit: Al Stelton
It will take $30 million to complete the Living Lakes Initiative and more resources to turn a complex, long-term declining situation around. The bulk of DU’s work will occur in the next 10 years as it partners with other conservation groups to restore 81,000 acres of associated wetland habitat to help clean up and bring back 300 shallow lakes.
Ducks Unlimited leads the way in wetland restoration in Minnesota. The DU Living Lakes Initiative, launched in 2004, establishes perpetually protected and managed wetland complexes from Keokuk Pool in southeastern Iowa, through northern Minnesota. These wetlands provide waterfowl with food and habitat resources as ducks travel this migratory pathway each year. A healthy system of shallow lakes and wetlands also provides clean water.
The Living Lakes Initiative seeks to protect shallow lakes and their watersheds and promotes sound restoration of lost or degraded habitat. Shallow lakes and wild rice lakes are the cornerstone of the strategy to restore migration habitat in Iowa and Minnesota. Maintaining more natural water regimes is key to healthy lakes within the Living Lakes Initiative. Water-control structures help restore the vitality to these wetland habitats through sophisticated water-level management. Fish barriers are often installed to prevent harmful, invasive fish species, like carp, from entering the lake systems. These fish muddy the water which hampers the growth of vegetation and associated small aquatic life that waterfowl eat for nourishment.
Through the Living Lakes Initiative, DU works to ensure that waterfowl and wildlife thrive in Iowa and Minnesota. Working with partners to restore and conserve wetlands, shallow lakes and wild rice lakes, DU restores landscapes that benefit ducks, other wildlife and people, leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy.
Not only is DU committing money to the effort, last week it named Ryan Heiniger as the new conservation director for Minnesota and Iowa. Heiniger joins a DU team dedicated to restoring Minnesota’s waterfowl habitat that already includes conservation program managers Jon Schneider of Alexandria, Minn., and Roger Pederson of Farmington, Minn.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands ¬− nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.