South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks receives two DU achievement awards 

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 24, 2006 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) recognized both the South Dakota D epartment of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) and it's secretary, John Cooper, as part of the 2006 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards and the State Grant Awards handed out today at the 71st annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

DU named SDGFP as one of its State Grant Award winners. The state agency has been a partner in DU's conservation program contributing to waterfowl breeding habitat in Canada. With this year's contribution, SDGFP has exceeded the cumulative contribution milestone of $100,000, earning it the Bronze State Grant Award.

Each year DU recognizes state agency partners that have reached significant milestones in their contributions to conserve

John Cooper (left), secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, was given the state/provincial employee DU Wetland Conservation Achievement Award by Don Young (right). As vice-chairman of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, and President of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies he has made major contributions to wetland conservation programs.
critical waterfowl breeding habitat in important landscapes in Canada. States' contributions are matched on a 4-1 ratio with dollars from Ducks Unlimited, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and various Canadian conservation partners.

"This match is a great deal for everyone, not the least of which, the ducks and other wildlife that benefit from these conservation projects," said Alan Wentz, conservation group manager for Ducks Unlimited in comments made during today's breakfast award ceremony. "Through this program, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is providing the fiscal foundation for the long-term partnerships working together to conserve and restore the breeding habitats that produce waterfowl that migrate through South Dakota."

SDGFP Secretary Cooper won the individual Wetland Conservation Achievement Award for States/Provinces based on his work to improve habitat, enforce hunting regulations, and educate the public about all aspects of waterfowl management. Cooper, a former member of the law enforcement division of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, currently serves on several important councils. He is president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, chair of the Adaptive Harvest Management Task Force, and chair of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Habitat committee. Cooper has worked.

Each year DU recognizes the achievements of individuals from the U.S., Canada or Mexico who have made exceptional contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation in North America. These partners, colleagues and leaders are usually individuals who have made long-term contributions to the conservation of these vital resources. However, extraordinary accomplishments over a shorter period are often recognized too.

"Each of these citizens has made a profound difference in wetlands conservation," said DU executive vice president Don Young. "We are proud to honor them with Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards — testaments to their outstanding impact on our mission."

Contact: Becky Jones Mahlum

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.