MEMPHIS, Tenn., Sept. 9, 2005 – Ducks Unlimited, the world’s leader in wetlands restoration, is pledging $15 million to help restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
“Ducks Unlimited will work with partner conservation organizations, federal conservation agencies and the state of Louisiana to protect and restore 52,000 acres along the Louisiana coast by 2008,” said Ducks Unlimited Executive Vice President Don Young.
“What’s happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a national tragedy,” said Ducks Unlimited President Dr. Jim Hulbert. “The human loss and suffering is staggering. To get people’s lives back to normal as quickly as possible requires not only that services and homes be restored and rebuilt but also that the critical coastal wetlands that help protect those homes and people be restored too. Wetlands restoration is what Ducks Unlimited does best.”
Young says the conservation organization’s $15 million pledge is the center point of Ducks Unlimited’s new Louisiana Coastal Restoration Initiative.
“We’ll leverage that money with other sources to increase funds as much as possible to work with our partners and the state of Louisiana to restore America’s Wetland,” Young said.
To date, Ducks Unlimited has conserved, restored or enhanced almost 55,000 acres of Louisiana coastal marsh and is presently working on six North American Wetland Conservation Act grants with its partners that will protect, restore or enhance more than 155,000 acres when completed. Young says the new initiative will continue DU’s long-standing work in Louisiana and restore and enhance an additional 52,000 acres by 2008.
“Wetlands do so much for people. They are great places to hunt and fish. They help purify and clean our water. They trap and hold storm water, reducing floodwater damage. And in the case of hurricanes, coastal wetlands play an important role in reducing storm surges,” Young explained.
Scientists indicate that as a general rule, one mile of coastal marsh can reduce a storm surge by one foot. The 29-foot storm surge recorded during Hurricane Katrina was the highest ever recorded during a Gulf Coast hurricane.
Before Katrina, scientists said it would take $14 billion to save Louisiana’s coastal marsh. Doing nothing would cost the public $37 billion in “public use value” by 2050.
Ducks Unlimited volunteers and staff nationwide have worked to help victims of the storm, and that work continues today.
“I’m proud of our employees and volunteers nationwide who have actively given money, food and supplies through relief organizations and churches,” Young said.
Ducks Unlimited Director of Communications
Ducks Unlimited Group Manager of Conservation Programs
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.