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Ducks Unlimited program to aid drought-stricken ranchers - ND

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Ducks Unlimited (DU) has announced a new program to cost-share water projects with North Dakota ranchers in portions of six drought-stricken counties. Under the Grassland Partnership Program, DU will provide 50 percent of the cost, up to $3,500 per individual, for various water projects. Types of water projects include new wells and other projects that benefit free-ranging livestock.

According to DU Director of Conservation Programs Jim Ringelman, livestock producers and waterfowl conservationists are both in a tight spot. “Most of North Dakota’s ducks nest in privately owned pastureland and raise their young on nearby potholes and stockdams,” Ringelman said. “If the livestock industry falls on hard times, and we start losing grassland, waterfowl will fall on hard times too. Our fates are tied.”

DU’s program may compliment state assistance by helping the landowner with cost-share for eligible projects. Landowners will be reimbursed by DU after the project is completed. To qualify, the pasture must be in McIntosh, Logan, Kidder, Wells, Sheridan, or eastern McLean county, and be located within a priority duck nesting area. A map of this area, along with applications and program information, are available on-line at www.ducks.org/GPP or by calling Ducks Unlimited.

Paul Bultsma, DU’s biologist for the Grassland Partnership Program, hopes livestock producers will take advantage of the $50,000 that has been set aside for the program. “We want to help as many ranchers as we can,” Bultsma said. “The only thing we ask is that landowners agree to maintain the water project and keep the land in pasture for at least 10 years. That way everyone recoups their investment.”

Jeff Essler, regional director for Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota, says the Grassland Partnership Program is an example of how DU gives back to local communities. “This program shows how DU is working with local producers and private landowners.” Essler said. “The funds going to this program were raised by local DU volunteers who put on our fundraising events, and by DU supporters from all over the country. We’re very connected to communities.”

Landowners can obtain more details on the program by contacting Paul Bultsma at 701-355-3528, via email to pbultsma@ducks.org, or by writing to Ducks Unlimited, 2525 River Road, Bismarck, ND 58503.

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 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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