Prairie conditions good, but help from hunters needed

Farm bill Sodsaver provision needed to protect grasslands

BISMARCK, N.D. August 27, 2007 - News in the Dakotas is mixed for waterfowl hunters. Late-summer habitat conditions look good in many breeding areas in the Dakotas. The bad news is many areas face imminent destruction. Ducks Unlimited is asking duck hunters across the country for help. 

“We’ve seen good brood numbers throughout the Missouri Coteau in North Dakota, but we also see native grasslands converted to cropland. This is bad news for future duck production.” said Dr. Scott Stephens, director of conservation planning for Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Office.

Increased crop prices driven by demand for corn for ethanol production put even greater pressure on native grasslands. These grasslands produce 70 percent of the continent’s ducks.

“We have a chance to protect these native grasslands through the farm bill,” said Scott McLeod, DU’s farm bill lead for the Great Plains Regional Office. “The Senate will draft its version of the farm bill in September.

McLeod says DU and many other conservation groups want a strong Sodsaver provision in the farm bill to prevent further loss of native grasslands. 

Sodsaver would eliminate all federal payments for crops planted on land with no previous cropping history. Landowners could still farm native grasslands, but at their own risk with no federal assistance.

Sodsaver would also level the economic playing field between ranchers and crop producers, and provide substantial savings to U.S. taxpayers by reducing subsidy and disaster payments.

“Given the strong waterfowling tradition in the South, it’s important that all southern duck hunters understand what’s at stake with Sodsaver. Now is the time to be heard loud and clear,” McLeod said. 

During August, senators are back in their home states, giving constituents a great opportunity to voice their support for Sodsaver.   

The Prairie Pothole Region annually produces nearly three out of every four ducks harvested in the South. If Sodsaver is not included in the 2007 farm bill, it could have dire effects on the continent’s duck populations and hunting in the South.

“We are very concerned that without a Sodsaver provision, 30-day seasons may become the norm and closed seasons a real possibility over the next decade. None of us wants to see that,” Stephens said.   

To find your Senator’s state offices go to:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

For more information about Sodsaver go to: www.ducks.org/sodsaver


Contact: Scott Stephens
701-355-3500
sstephens@ducks.org
or
Scott McLeod
701-355-3500
smcleod@ducks.org

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. 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.