Louisiana has the highest coastal wetlands loss rate of any state in the nation comprising more than 1,500 square miles of marsh over the past seven decades. Open-water habitats replace 25 to 35 square miles of the coast’s emergent wetlands every year. Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited, spoke to reporters in New Orleans, La., on Aug. 1 about the work Ducks Unlimited has done and is planning to stop the loss of coastal marsh.
The following remarks were made by Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited, at America's Energy Coast Press Conference in New Orleans, La., on Aug. 1, 2006 at the Audubon Aquarium of the America's Gulf of Mexico Exhibit.
"Thank you, Mayor Roach [mayor of Lake Charles, La.]. I am very pleased to be here today, representing Ducks Unlimited and our more than one million supporters across the country.
"Ducks Unlimited is the world leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Our vision is to have enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.
|DU Executive Vice President Don Young speaks in favor of a Louisiana constitutional amendment that all future offshore revenues that Louisiana receives be dedicated to coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Restoring Louisiana’s coast is a key initiative in DU’s Wetlands for Tomorrow fund-raising campaign. DU pledged $15 million to Louisiana coastal wetlands restoration following last year’s hurricanes.|
"Coastal Louisiana provides important winter habitat for more than 9 million ducks and 400,000 geese. More than half of all the waterfowl wintering in the entire Gulf Coast region use the coastal marshes of Louisiana. Historically, coastal marshes of Louisiana provided reliable, high quality habitat for millions of pintails, gadwalls, wigeon, scaup and teal, plus countless fish, shellfish and other wetland-dependent wildlife.
"The problem is Louisiana has the highest coastal wetlands loss rate of any state in the nation comprising more than 1,500 square miles of marsh over the past seven decades. Open-water habitats replace 25 to 35 square miles of the coast’s emergent wetlands every year.
"Since its inception 70 years ago, DU has worked to conserve more than 11.6 million acres of wetlands throughout North America, nearly a quarter million acres of which is right here in Louisiana. Our goal is to conserve vital waterfowl habitat…..saving and restoring Louisiana wetlands is a key strategy to help us reach that goal.
"I am here today because the Gulf Coast is one of DU’s top five priority conservation areas in North America, given its importance to continental waterfowl.
"Today, we are proud to stand together with Governor Blanco in support of the constitutional amendment that will support coastal protection and restoration.
"You may think that this is an interesting stance to take for a conservation organization – but, it is not.
"Ducks Unlimited strongly supported the three constitutional amendments passed by Louisiana voters in 2002. Saving coastal Louisiana is vital to our conservation efforts and this amendment shows that Louisiana is ready to stand up and make coastal restoration a priority.
"So, I call on all Ducks Unlimited supporters to vote for this worthy and necessary constitutional amendment.
"As evidence of DU’s strong commitment to the passage of this amendment, DU has or will take the following steps:
- One week after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, DU pledged $15 million to help restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana. This pledge is the focal point of DU’s new Louisiana Coastal Initiative, one of 9 such initiatives in our $1.7 billion Wetlands For Tomorrow campaign. I leaked news of this campaign during my remarks to the America’s Energy Coast Forum in early May. I am happy to say we officially launched this campaign at our national convention on May 27, and that we’ve already raised $500 million toward this 7-year goal.
- We will contact our 15,000 adult members throughout Louisiana through e-mail, ads on our Web site, list servs and other means of communication, to urge them and their families to vote yes on this important amendment.
- Further, we will place articles and advertising in our popular Ducks Unlimited magazine, read by more than 3 million people, to promote Louisiana’s strong commitment to using new revenues to restore our coast.
- We will run a segment on our popular radio program – The World of Ducks Unlimited heard on 314 stations across this great country.
- And we will work with the state of Louisiana and the America’s Wetlands campaign, to discover other ways we can help support this amendment.
"We want to save America’s wetlands so the skies over Louisiana will be filled with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. Help us do that by voting yes on this important constitutional amendment on September 30, 2006.
For more information on the Louisiana Gulf Coast Conservation Initiative, and to donate to this initiative, click here.
Contact: Gregg Patterson
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature' s most productive ecosystems - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.